Benji's heels skidded back and his toes lifted as he stumbled under my push. But he remained standing, a mocking statue of my decreased strength. And so I pushed him again, harder. This time he fell over the arm of the couch. His legs flopped over until he was sitting upright and staring at me.
I was aware of my chest rising and falling in deep, visible and audible breaths. I was aware of my eyes burning and the skin on my face heating as though the sun were directly above me. I was not aware of the bursting cry that would come out of me as I slapped him across the face.
A fresh, red print of my hand marked his cheek. He brought his hand up and felt the result of my slap with his fingers, staring at me continually with a content look. Without the need of words, a smile or a nod, that face told me what he wanted to say. That he deserved that.
The tears were out again and my hands were shaking with the fear and disgust I felt for what I'd just done.
"I don't care what you do with your life,” I said.
Benji opened his mouth to speak.
“I don't care,” I said louder. “I just want to be in it."
"Come here," he said.
I obeyed him. But once I was directly in front of him I didn’t have a clue what to do. I just stood there, looking down at him, confused and insulted. He reached up and wrapped his hand to the back of my neck. He pulled me down and kissed me.
His hands held my face. My fingers were in his hair and I felt the heat of his passion pushing out through his scalp.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said.
I smiled as his fingers curled under the hem of my shirt and he lifted it over my head. His hands pushed against my hipbones so that I shifted back. He lifted me and I flipped over, feeling the cushion of the couch wrap my shoulder blades.
I remembered my scar. I remembered how it had turned him off before and I refused to let Kyle take this moment away from me again. So I brought my hand up and curled it around the KW.
Benji noticed. He moved down to kiss my scar shielding fingers. With one brush of his hand, he swept mine away and left the giant, distorted KW exposed. He leaned down and kissed my scar.
The couch became our bed that night, though we never slept. His naked body became my blanket, one of his arms tucked under my shoulders and the other beneath his head. I rested against his chest while his fingers swam up and down my spine. I listened to his voice buzzing though his body to my ear. We talked all night.
The exhaustion was great enough to put both of us to sleep, yet we remained awake. There were long moments of silence in which I listened to his even heartbeat. And then there were long moments of conversation in which I listened to his tired, whispering voice.
"You could write," I suggested.
"Anything. You're a good writer."
Benji had been taking more jobs than usual. He didn’t have any victims to rob extra cash from. But Benji hated working and I could tell it was wearing him down.
The one good thing was that there really wasn't any rush. The house was paid off, as was his truck. And Sam and I were bringing in more than a decent amount of money. She could polish off a painting in three hours, depending on its size and complexity. Most of the time I spent not much more than a half hour posing for her. Therefore we had a lot of art in the bank and a lot of cash coming in.
"I have an idea," Benji whispered into my hair.
"I can't tell you."
"If I can pull it off, I'd like it to be a surprise."
"I hate surprises."
I lifted my head and planted a kiss on his lips.
"So, is this a good surprise?" I asked.
"I hope so."
“I owe you a lot, you know,” he said. “I think you deserve everything you want. And I'll stay for as long as you want me to."
"And I really do want to stay. I love you."
I'd come five months out of hell by the time April came around. I was twenty years old and had become a product of the rich men's dreams. I hung over their beds and taunted their wives. I inflicted insecurity and sexual curiosity in the rich women's eyes. Five months from escaping death and I'd become a star.
The people of French River and its surrounding communities knew me by name. Advertisements for Sam's upcoming auctions and art shows were in the form of Bloody Beth posters and were adhered to shop windows and hydro poles. I would be walking by and people would be staring at the poster. They’d get to watch my live reflection strut behind them. They would whirl around and point and whisper and some would try to strike up a conversation with me.
I can't say that I hated the attention. But I wouldn't say that I enjoyed it either. I think that everybody at some point in life wishes that they could be invisible. I would have to leave the town that I'd come to love in order to feel unimportant again.
One particular day of my new celebrity sticks out the most in my mind. I'd stopped looking in the direction of ogling people to avoid having to answer the same three questions again.
"How did you fall into this line of work?"
"Do you ever feel uncomfortable posing in these positions?"
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
But in my tactic to keep my eyes away from the admirers and critics, I almost didn't see her. From down the street she looked like just another girl entranced by the poster with a frown and wide eyes. I'd seen the teenage girls make this face often. But as I neared, she became familiar to me.
She spotted me coming and there was no way of avoiding eye contact. Her brown eyes locked onto me and we both immediately froze.
Her dark hair was grown down almost to her shoulders. She was wearing a short, jean jacket and a gray t-shirt. Beneath the thin fabric I could see a bright, crimson swimsuit. There was a large white print on the belly of it. It read, 'LIFE GUARD'.
I wanted to ask her so many questions. Did she know that I had survived? Did she know that Sandra had not? Why did she save us?
Sarah just stood there in a paralytic state. I knew that I couldn't ask her these questions. But I wanted to thank her. So I smiled, nodded slightly, and continued walking.
I’m not sure but I thought I could feel her smiling behind my back.
So they'll still talk about me when I die
Entry April 12, 2002
I can sit here and write about how I did it for her. I could try to convince myself that she deserved exactly what she wanted and what she wanted was to be with me. But that would be a lie. That would be calling rape to a victim more than willing.
Somehow she accepts me. After all I have done, she still wants me. She is the only one who knows the real me. And she loves me.
What was I trying to prove? What emotion was I trying to avoid? I know I’m still a monster, I know that. People don’t change that easily. Sociopaths don’t change. I still don't care about people. I only care about her.
But for her I am willing. I can start fresh. I can pretend to be normal with her. Now is a better time than ever for that. In the eyes of every potential victim, I see her.
Cold baths might become my best friend. I might start playing with fire again like I did when I was a teenager battling my urge to kill. I can satiate myself somehow.
I will always be a killer. But I won’t kill again.