Status: Complete.

Carved in Crimson


The street is deserted in the early morning hours. My eyes flick to the dashboard clock. Not long before the sun calls it's good morning. Not long before the burning house is found.

My stomach is in knots as I stare at the quiet house before me. The windows are inky, not a night light glowing inside it's cavernous walls. Nothing to cause shadows to dance, so that I know she's okay.

The minutes continue to pass, and I'm growing more and more tired. My nerves refuse to let me rest, though. I've strained my eyes from watching the front door so closely. Where is she?

Finally, a silhouette appears from the side of the house. I press my nose to the glass and watch at the casual way she ambles across the front yard. As if she belongs there. As if she didn't just break into that house and kill two more people.

Once she's seated and buckled in, I stare and wait. I raise my brows, eyes wide. She gives me and tender smile and pats my knee in a gentle way my own mother never did.

"You're safe now, Hannah," she says before pushing my hair behind my ear.

For the second time tonight, I'm in tears. The crushing fear has been released, and the dark clouds of trepidation are gone. I'm free.

The car slowly begins rolling forward, leaving all my worries behind. No more mother that always turns a blind eye, and no more step-dad that does the nasty, vile deeds. No, I've found a new place in this world.

"Where will we go?" I ask in anticipation.

Sirens wailing in the distance catch my attention before she can voice a response. My throat constricts with fear. They're coming for her!

I turn to her with wide eyes and sweaty palms. If she's afraid, it doesn't show. Her fingers tap the wheel to a beat inside her head. She appears to not have a care. Maybe in her eyes, the world is right again.

"I'm not sure, love," she answers, blush colored lips widening into a smile. Briefly, she glances towards me, eyes twinkling. "Out west somewhere. Maybe the Colorado mountains or a big city in California. Some place we can get lost."

Satisified, I slump back into my seat and pull my legs up underneath me. The baggy sweatshirt she gave me falls down past my fingertips. I don't mind. It smells of cinnamon and pine. Christmas.

My heart overflows with the thought of spending the holiday with her. It's been ages since I've looked forward to this time of the year. We should be settled in to our new place by then.

Images of drinking hot chocolate in front of a fireplace dance through my head. I hold the sleeve to my nose, letting the smells thrust me into the new life that awaits me.

"Colorado sounds nice."

"Anywhere you want, dear," she replies, briefly taking my hand and squeezing it.

Tiny crow's feet appear at the corners of her eyes every time she smiles. It gives her a youthful look. So different from my mother's stiff, plastic looking face. Instead of fighting age, she has embraced it, and made it work for her. I've never known anyone so effortlessly beautiful.

Bright red and blue lights fill the inside of the car, forcing my joyful thoughts to a careening halt. I rocket upright, fingers digging into the seat. My breathing accelerates as the cop car gets closer.

"Relax," she soothes, patting my knee. Her honey colored eyes hold no concern. "He won't bother us."

She turns up the heater, then reaches for the radio knob. Christmas music fills the interior. It's a false sense of security and sets my nerves on edge. I grit my teeth, stomach churning.

The cop cruises up behind us, then crawls past us. There's only a man inside. He nods and touches his brow in a one finger salute. She answers with a wave, and he's gone. My mouth gapes open.

Curiosity gets the best of me. "How'd you know?"

"An old friend," she replies, then begins humming. She must notice my further interest, because she elaborates. "You remember how I said the key to success is kindness, loyalty, and honesty?" I nod. "I went to school with him. He was what others called a geek. Picked on a lot, especially after he came out."

"You protected him," I guess, admiration growing.

A fond smile forms. "He's always been one of my very best friends. I took care of him. Now, he'll take care of me."

I'm blown away at how strategically this whole thing was planned. Amy only died a few days ago. She had so little time, but had managed to cover all of her bases. There were a couple things that I was wondering still, though.

She picked up on my hesitation. "You can talk to me about anything you want. Even last night."

My eyes round. "How'd you know?"

"Motherly instinct." A knowing expression overtakes her face.

I chew my lip a moment, debating on whether it even matters or not. She remains silent. I give in and proceed. "Why did you just kill Hallie? Without taking anything from her?"

Her eyes darken at the sound of my ex-friend's name. "With a soul as dark as hers, there was nothing beautiful to take."

Fair enough. "One more," I promise as I sling my hair back. "What were you originally planning on doing afterwards?"

Her lips roll, nostrils flaring. Fists roll the steering wheel, and I'm afraid I've made her mad. She lets out a defeated breath.

"Kill myself." My forehead wrinkles. She runs a thumb over the creases. "I had nothing else to live for, but now I have you." She cups my chin with a warm smile.

I smile back and she pulls away. A comfortable silence forms between us. Only the lovely carols can be heard. I hum along as I watch the scenery go by.

"You can talk about her, you know," I tell her, suddenly thinking about it. "I won't mind."

"Thank you, love." She pauses a moment, and I notice a droplet dangling from her lashes. "Every sunrise makes me think of her. I made up this silly little poem for her when she was a baby. I would still say it to her even with her in high school."

The idea is foreign. I was never read books or sang to as a child. My mother sure as hell never made any poems up for me.

"I'll think of one for you, too."

I flush with joy.

The sun is now climbing into the sky, and I'm fascinated by the rich color it's producing. "What color would you call that?"

"Crimson," she replies, then links her fingers through mine.
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And there it is. First time writing anything like this. Thanks for reading!