The Night I Died

We went to Home Depot to steal pipes. I felt guilty even in the dream, felt the heat flash through my body. Like sweating in a too-hot bath. We needed the pipes, PVC, and in specially measured lengths, for the shadow cast production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was my second year directing. This tank will be my legacy, I told you, sketching out my plan

We planned to go after dark, wearing elaborate masks. Stock characters of the commedia dell’arte. I didn’t know my own name, and the smirk in your voice when you said it made me rethink who was in charge here. 

The lights were flickering. We stood in the parking lot. You smoked. I thought about the red glow pinpricking the dark, and if it was noticeable. Smoke drenched our clothes and glitter stained our skin, red-handed indeed. 

I was reading The Master and Margarita but nothing could have prepared me for what we saw when you cranked the doors open. They were somehow subterranean, like we were preparing to board a submarine. The banner was hand lettered, painted with glitter paint. The policeman’s ball, and here we were, trespassing. You said, Do whatever it takes to fit in, and waltzed through the crowd, flirting with a redhead who gazed after you, stunned. I could hear his thoughts. An angel walking among us. Two cases of mistaken identity later, I was dancing with an officer above my rank in the center of the ballroom. Tools lined the walls, glinting, sepulchral. It was then I knew the risk. His mask was more Shakespearean, tied about his head and neck with silk ribbons, and mine was buckled on. I felt trapped, lungs crushed within my bodice, my high heels tangled in orange and black streamers fallen to the floor. Panic rose off my skin like smoke. Where were you? My officer whipped me around, hard, and I felt my elbow crack. His hand closed around my wrist. The cigarettes! We’d been seen. I caught your eye as you appeared from a distant aisle, shook my head. The light shone amber and my officer dipped me. I never saw it, but I had somehow always known it was coming. 

The next day you played music while I drove us. We paid for the pipes, flirted with an attractive employee as he cut them down to size for us, helped us find all the right corners and joints. The spray paint clanked merrily in the backseat of the car, and I felt sick that night as we spread everything out after dark. We had a tarp to protect the grass, to prevent another crime scene. You jiggled the can and sprayed. I crossed my arms and closed my eyes. I saw my own body, headless on the floor at the officer’s feet, the shining saw (of course) that had done it. You met my eye, gleeful. What had we done? What had we lost? 

Anna Press is a writer and educator. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and three errant dachshunds. Her writing appears in Kissing Dynamite Poetry’s print anthology Lift Every Voice, The Hellebore, The Columbia Review, Necessary Fiction, and Glass Poetry. Talk to her on Twitter @annaepress.


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