Gray light spilled into the living room through the curtain-less windows but did little to remove the darkness that had taken up residence there.
â€œJill you need to cover up or youâ€™re gonna get sickâ€
It was a feeble attempt at normalcy and even as I said it I knew I should have just kept quiet.
â€œIâ€™m not coldâ€ she replied icily.
Her honey hair flowed around her neck and pooled about her shoulders. An over-sized plum sweater dwarfed her small body and made her appear almost child-like. On another day and in a different time I might have mentioned that her shirt matched the couch, but not today. Today her arms held her together, but I knew she was on the verge of falling apart.
â€œWhat do you want to do?â€ My words broke the silence, but not the mounting tension.
â€œI am going to kill her.â€
It was the subtle way that she said it that sent a chill up my spine. Her words were so matter-of-fact, so final. My heart raced. I raked my hands over eyes that hadnâ€™t seen sleep in 2 days.
Jill got up and tied on a pair of New Balance running shoes and jogged into the kitchen.
â€œWhere are you going?â€ I said with a trace of irritation. I donâ€™t know why I asked, I already knew the answer. She was headed for the dining room.
Getting up so quickly that the chair vibrated across the hardwood floors, I followed her.
Linda, our babysitter, was bound to a chair in a near mummy fashion with two rolls of duct tape. Her dirty blonde hair was a nest of disheveled curls matted about a ghoulish face painted by tears and black mascara. Silver tape from ear-to- ear silenced her. The storm had made her our prisoner, but she had turned us into guards, wardens, and quite possibly judge, jury, and executioner.
Icy roads and malevolent winds had forced us to return early from our trip. The front door was open. Barney greeted us on the television singing and dancing. Jill called out our sonâ€™s name, â€œJackson! Jackson!â€ Her cries became more and more frantic and then they ended in a scream. I heard the back door open and the loud thwack of the screen door slamming. I was at the front of the house and by the time I reached the back yard what I saw broke me on the inside in a way that can never be fixed.
Time never really stands still and you cannot turn back its hands. It will never wait, you cannot press pause, and you cannot rewind no matter how hard you try. When I replay the events in my head they are vivid bits and pieces that are razor sharp like a Tarantino film.
Jillâ€™s body flying through the air slamming into our babysitter Linda. Linda in the position of a snow angel out cold from Jillâ€™s assault. Our son Jackson lying face down in the snow and shirtless, a patina of blood surrounding his little body, his back a canvas of bruises and lacerations. 12 inches of snow on the ground and more falling. Everything is so white, except for the blood.
For some reason the sound track that plays to this gruesome memory is an old Church hymn. Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snowâ€¦ nothing but the blood of Jesus.
The cold snowflakes pelt my face and melt on the hot tears. I donâ€™t remember moving from the porch to Jill, it was as if I had somehow teleported myself to her side. One minute I was on the porch, the next I was helping her and Jackson, and then I was in the dining room with Linda. I had so much rage for dear Linda. Part of me wanted to twist her neck with my bare hands, I needed to feel the crushing of bones and the popping of her carotid arteries. My initial fear had been replaced by an almost unquenchable wrath, but I held back because I wanted to know why.
Jackson lived, but we could not reach a doctor. The storm had killed the power. The roads were shutdown and our house was 4 miles from our nearest neighbor.
I duct-taped Linda to a dining room chair. We would deal with her later.
Jill and I tended to Jackson. He was alive and breathing, but he seemed to be in some sort of shock, or worse, a coma. I gripped the telephone like a stress ball, it would not connect, but I couldnâ€™t put it down.
We interrogated Linda, but all she would say over and over was, â€œJackson was bad and he needed to be punished.â€ It was making me crazy. Linda was our friend, not a close friend, but definitely someone we thought we could trustâ€¦ how wrong we were.
I paced back and forth in the kitchen not knowing what to do. It felt like God had taken the weekend off and left Stephen King in charge, and I have never been a fan of Stephen Kingâ€¦
Standing over the frozen lake, Jill and I cut a large hole in the ice with my chain saw. Strapped to a two-wheeled dolly and weighted with bricks, we lowered Linda into the frigid water. Her lips were red and swollen from the duct tape and from the cheap lipstick that she wore. Her blue eyeshadow and smudged mascara made her look like Tammy Faye.
In the final hours I guess both Jill and I snapped. We could no longer stand her silence or the silence from our son. Jill made the motion, I seconded it.
Two years ago I watched Linda’s eyes as she sank into the frigid water. She never closed them. The blue orbs drifted into the murky depths, but there are times when they resurface in my dreams.
Few scars remain on Jackson, his wounds have all but healed, but Jill and I will never be the same, we will never forget the storm