The snow is falling far and wide. Whiteness surrounds everything. If you look about thereís nothing except the white layer of snow as far as the eye can see. No one else is visible. But you canít see anything because youíre lying on the ground. Your body is still and silent; you are motionless, unaware of any other existence. But youíre not alone. †††††††††††

Many months ago you first came on the scene, moving in next door to the family. Your dog was always barking at all hours, you would drown out the sound by playing Wagner at 2am. You didnít think anyone could hear, did you? But the noise carried more than you thought, especially when the wind picked up. You didnít introduce yourself at first, just nodding every now and then. But slowly people came to know who you were. †††††††††††

You would sit outside on your porch with a newspaper on cold sunny mornings, observing life. Or you would be out in your shed chopping wood for the fire. Your dog was now tied up and barking like crazy. Jess would come and stroke him, feeling sorry for him, all chained up like that. You let her pet him, at least it made him stop barking. After a while you didnít mind when she came around with treats for your dog. You started talking to her. And on the odd occasion you invited her in for a pot of coffee. You never had a daughter and were glad of her company; her presence lightened your mood - made you less grumpy and foreboding. †††††††††††

At that point you hadnít been living in the town very long, not as long as other people anyway. Some people in the town were cautious of you; it was just the way they were around here. Maybe it was because you didnít say much; you hardly spoke a word in fact. How did you sustain a conversation? Your voice always seemed trapped at the back of your throat. When you did utter a few words, a gravelly sound emerged, rough like a roar of a wild animal. But your quietness was comforting to Jess; a contrast to her noisy household and somewhere close by she could escape to.

Sometimes you were able to see her through the window when the family were home and the house was lit up. Jess would be with her mother and younger siblings.† A yellowish glow would emerge outwards as the light poured through the windows, aiding the fading daylight. You would see them talking, sometimes laughing, then you would go to your porch with an oil lamp and a cigar and watch the smoke as it curled up towards the evening sky. Your dog would often come and sit near you and you were glad of him then. ††

Once, Jess came over with a birthday cake for you. Youíd let slip it was your birthday, it wasnít like you - giving details away like that. Normally you were more careful. Perhaps old age was making you mellow. Jess stood there at your door, arms outstretched with a smiling face. You werenít expecting her. No one had made a cake for you before, not even your mother.† †††††††††††

Then one day Jess stopped coming to your house. The family who were now used to her popping out to see you asked how you were. Jess replied you were fine and turned away. They didnít think it was strange that she never came around anymore.† She was young after all, only seventeen and teenagers were fickle at that age.† Her mother was always occupied with her younger children. So she couldnít distinguish the subtle changes in Jessís demeanour. †††††††††††

On the surface everything was okay. But you knew different. However, months passed and seasons changed, it got colder and a harsh winter set in. You went into the town to get some extra supplies; you were approaching the grocery store when your dog ran ahead of you. When you looked up Jess was there, stroking him again, your dog lapped up the attention and smiled. Jess had been coming out of the store carrying shopping. You stopped and her eyes meet yours and an exchange of sorts took place. Her eyes were glazed and appeared to look straight through you. †††††††††††

Jess was having trouble sleeping, did you know? Yet you carried on as normal, preparing yourself for a long winter alone in your house. Your dog began to bark again, you couldnít stop it. Once you tied it up all day outside in the cold while you went off fishing. It whimpered and whined and almost froze to death. You were becoming mean again. At least with Jess around you werenít so mean. † †††††††††

Was it because there was something on your mind? Was something eating away at you? You could appear so normal and because you never talked much people wouldnít suspect you of anything. You had by that time been there a while, people would see you around, they knew you or at least thought they did in their small-minded conservative ways. You became part of the fabric of life around there. †

Time passes by slowly in a small town. And so your mind kept coming back to Jess. You had never experienced this emotion before. When Jess came into you life, she brought something new; she opened up your world. She would take your dog for a walk and you would see them through the window as they returned. You started to look out for them, before they emerged from over the hill. †††††††††††

You didnít know what was happening to you; it had never happened before.† Once your heart started to beat fast and a strange sensation came over your body. You told Jess to leave after she brought your dog back that day and you turned in early, thinking you had a fever coming.††††††† †††††††††††

The next time Jess came over, she was busy making some coffee, looking up in the cupboards for the sugar, her small frame straining to reach the top shelf. Your eyes followed the contours of her body, her arms stretched upwards and her dainty feet on tiptoes. As you were sitting at the table drinking coffee you asked her if she could read the instructions on the back of some medication tablets. You told her your eyes were failing. You led her into the back of the house, she had never been this far in the house before - youíd never let anyone go there before. Her eyes seized upon some of your old Wagner records, she asked if she could put some on. The music mingled with your thoughts. †††††††††††

A short time after that something came over you. The oil lamp on the side cabinet illuminated Jessís face, which was framed by her brown curls. Those almond shaped eyes looked up and she appeared like an angel to you. Then something happened that had never happened before, it was all so fast. You didnít recognise yourself, it wasnít you there in that moment; you lost yourself. Motions blurred, your movements appeared like images flashing before your eyes. You choose not to remember what you did. You had a feeling you had done something wrong. † †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

***

Your body is cold. Do you feel pain? How long has it been now? Minutes can pass like hours sometimes and hours like days. But this never-ending whiteness still surrounds you. Do you remember how you got here? It seems like a long time ago. †

Nothing much ever seemed to happen in the town. But soon they began to talk about Jess. As her belly grew bigger, the gossipy women in the grocery stores would whisper amongst themselves. Such a nice girl, how could she get herself into trouble like that? This was how you found out; you were queuing in the post office and overheard everything. The news didnít register at first; you didnít add it all up. Then you remembered the look in Jessís eye that day outside the grocery store, back then you didnít know what it meant. †††††††††††

In those final months of her pregnancy even her own family didnít know the full story, no one knew. You were the only one that shared the secret. They would ask her who the father was and she would shake her head and say nothing. †††††††††††

Finally the story broke. Who knows how it got out, these things tend to happen, you should have known. But you were unprepared. Paint was daubed on your door, a brick through the window and the word, ĎRapistí scraped onto the paintwork of your truck. You looked at the destruction as you stepped outside, onto the porch. You needed some air and decided to go for a walk. †††††††††††

It had been a heavy few days of snowfall and the news reported more snow showers on the way. As you started to walk you didnít see someone was behind you. You werenít thinking about that. Your mind was cluttered with thoughts, you carried on walking, until you no longer knew where you were. Your boots made footprints in the snow. †††††††††††

You didnít realise you were near death. You didnít see the weapon so close behind you.† Suddenly a knife sliced through the front of your neck, easy as that. You stumbled, turned around. Did you see anyone? Perhaps. A voice emerged, it was that wild animal inside of you struggling to get out, it was the first time for years that such a loud sound came out of you. But no one heard your scream; it was just you and your killer out there alone in the wilderness. You had an intense look on your face as you fell; there was a moment of recognition in your eyes, before the life left them. Your blood stained the snow, deep red gushed out of your neck. Then it stopped. Everything froze. †††††††††††

So there you were nothing but a cold corpse. And you didnít get a chance to have your say - who would believe you anyway? Who were you kidding? You knew the town would never of forgiven you; youíd had it. As you rested there in the freezing snow and your organs ceased to function you were transported to another place, somewhere far away. †
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

***

The figure looms over you still wielding the knife, remnants of your blood congealing on the blade. The shaking hand drops the knife into the snow. The figure takes a step back and looks around. Then silently walks away; in turning, a strand of hair floats downwards forming a curl on top of your broken body. †††††††††††

You are discovered by police several days later. Your photographed corpse makes front-page news, the headline: ĎSuspected Rapist Found Murdered.í†



Sonya Davda: (b. 1979) is a writer living in London, UK. She is currently completing a part time Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Kingston University, London. Sonya also works in an art college in the city and has previously worked as a journalist. This is her first piece of fiction to be published. Further works will be published this spring in the annual literary journal Ripple, Volume 5, published by Kingston University Press. More of Sonyaís writing can be found on her blog: http://sonyaslondonwriting.blogspot.com/


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