“Lost” by Cezarija Abartis
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, join Cezarija Abartis in Sartell, Minnesota and encounter some teenagers with deadly intentions. Next week, journey to Australia’s Moreton Bay with Iain Ryan, where summertime throws all trust and clarity out the window.
Elizabeth heard the door bang and footsteps clatter in the kitchen. She was relieved that it was not her daughter’s gait. This was another teenager. A girl holding a gun. Dear God, where did these children get these weapons? What possessed them?
The boy on the couch sat forward and let out his breath. “Lily,” he whispered. He released his knife in his lap.
“I got lost,” Lily said, “but I’m here.” She stared at Elizabeth sitting on the chair beside the fireplace. “This the teacher? Cordelia’s mom? She looks helpless.”
Lily’s eyes glittered under the ceiling lamp. She was thin, undernourished, with sharp bones in her face. She had a greenish purple bruise on her upper arm and wore a sleeveless blouse, as if displaying a badge.
“Circle round and round in these fucking ’burbs. Excuse me, effing ’burbs. I gotta watch my language around this English teacher.” Lily pointed with her gun as if it were her finger. “Are you Cordelia’s mom?”
Elizabeth nodded. She hated that they knew Cordelia’s name. “Do you go to school with her? Are you friends with her?”
“Yeah, sure.” Lily paced around the living room. The late light coming through the window blinds striped her. She stopped by her friend in front of an oil painting depicting a brick house set back from a lush summer lawn; it could’ve been a fortress, really, if it only had a moat surrounding it. She looked at the rotary phone that Robbie had dropped and kicked, and she walked past it. Her nostrils opened as if she were sniffing the air, testing it like a wolf. “What did you cook for dinner? Spaghetti?”
“Yes. There’s some in the fridge, if you—”
“Nah, I gotta watch my weight.” She winked at Robbie.
Robbie pursed his lips, touched his fingertips together, and blew her a kiss. She stretched out her hand to catch it and smiled, looking like a medieval Madonna. He lowered his head, swallowed hard, and mouthed, “I love you.” She nodded and patted her chest at heart level. Elizabeth saw that in his pantomime, he didn’t stutter; he was as eloquent as Lincoln or Demosthenes.
“I was lost and now I’m found,” Lily said, her gun hanging from one hand while she sauntered toward him, as if they were the only ones in the world.
“You’re . . .” His eyelids fluttered as he labored to shape the words. “You’re . . . you’re mine. We belong to each other.”
Elizabeth thought their obsession was intoxicating, even to an observer.
Robbie rubbed at his eyes with his curled fist, a sleepy child. “When I napped this afternoon I dreamed that a bunch of Elvises were coming after me, their arms reaching, reaching for me, like zombies.”
“Man, that’s creepy,” Lily said softly. “Still, it’s better than an army of Michael Jacksons or Gangnam Style horse dancing.” She stroked his head with the hand that wasn’t holding the gun. She was trying to make a joke, Elizabeth thought.
“In my dream one came toward me, and then the others followed and surrounded me. I wanted to say a prayer, but I couldn’t. I thought about my Cream Puff and how no one would be there to take care of her. I was sadder than hell.” His knuckles gleamed white around the hilt of his knife. “I saved that doggie from the streets.” He stammered, “And now . . . now I couldn’t save her.”
Lily caressed his shoulder and kissed the top of his head. “It was just a dream.” She touched his stammering lips. “It’s okay, baby. You’re here now, and Cream Puff is safe at home.”
“Yeah.” Robbie’s eyes shone as he raised his face to Lily. “It seemed so real. I was scared. And then I thought of you.”
Lily smiled like an indulgent mother. “I would protect you from an army of Elvises.” She leaned toward him. “I would be your savior.”
Elizabeth believed her. There was no way of getting between these two. They would save each other forever. Even when the world collapsed.
The kitchen door clattered again. It was not Cordelia’s step.
CEZARIJA ABARTIS’s Nice Girls and Other Stories was published by New Rivers Press. Her stories have appeared in Per Contra, Pure Slush, Waccamaw, and New York Tyrant, among others. Her flash “The Writer” was selected by Dan Chaon for Wigleaf’s “Top 50 online Fictions of 2012.” Her story “History,” published in the Lascaux Review, was chosen by The Committee Room as Story of the Month. Recently she completed a novel, a thriller. She teaches at St. Cloud State University. Her website is http://magicmasterminds.com/cezarija/.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jul 21, 2014
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