I backstroked through the kitchen, watching the knife block. Dispatched ten minutes ago, I hoped the dreaded event would just happen already. I didn't really want to witness said event, but it was inevitable, so I practiced my swimming maneuvers as the yelling became louder.
A moment later, a clatter forced me to look down. A tall brown-haired man towered over his wife, who had fallen to the floor. The knife block lay on its side, the knives spilling across the tile. As the blonde woman struggled to find her balance, her fingers closed around the handle of a six-inch blade.
I braced myself for the impact.
She plunged the knife into her husband's stomach. I gasped in pain, feeling the hot slice in my own belly. The man's face turned white, his shout cut off mid-sentence. He fumbled at the woman's hands, his mouth opening to a round "o". I knew my face mirrored his.
She pulled the knife out and the blazing heat receded in my gut. Until she jabbed the blade in again, a little higher this time. It scraped my ribs, piercing a lung. I couldn't breathe. I sucked at the air, desperate for my body to work properly, thoughts that weren't mine clouding my mind.
Below me, the man fell to the ground, the knife still in his chest. Blinding pain shot through the left side of my body—no wonder the mortal was lying incapacitated on the ground. I hovered as still as possible, waiting for the crossover.
The woman dropped her shaking hands covered with her husband's blood. A strangled cry echoed through the otherwise clean kitchen and she turned away from the body on the floor. After retching into the sink—which didn't help the smell wafting up from the bloody body—she reached for the phone.
Three numbers later she cried, "Help! I just stabbed my husband!"
The pain subsided as a thousand pin pricks lightly kissed my skin. I closed my eyes in bliss; a smile crept across my face. I loved crossing over. It made all the pain worthwhile. Floating on a bed of feather pillows, the golden light passed over my body as I took the husband's place inside his own body.
As I settled in the foreign flesh, I wondered how long this placeholding would last. Those knife wounds looked pretty bad.
Owen's phone vibrated in the bowl of marbles, waking him before the ring could sound. He sat up and flipped the lamp on in one swift motion. He didn't even need to check the caller ID. He knew who it was.
"Baby?" he asked, pulling a shirt over his head. There was no talking on the other end of the line. A weak whimper came through. "Be there in a minute. Hang on."
He snapped the phone shut and strode from the room, wishing he had a pocket in his basketball shorts. The keys hung on a hook in the kitchen, but he didn't bother to be quiet as he descended the stairs. His older brother had moved out two years ago to attend college in another state. His mom, long since single, slept like the dead. He grabbed the keys and saw the time. Damn. He'd be tired tomorrow. And he had a game.
The ten minutes to his girlfriend's house were the hardest. Owen had to imagine all the horrible things her dad had done this time. They were usually worse than what he found, but the anguish he felt still simmered in him. Then the anger.
He'd called the police before. Her father hadn't been legally drunk. Autumn wouldn't say that he'd done anything, even though her eye had been puffy and red. Nothing had happened. The police left cards and looked apologetic. Owen hadn't called again. Now, whenever Autumn called, he just went and got her. She ended up sleeping in his basement, and everyone seemed satisfied with this arrangement.
He pulled in the driveway of the house with all the lights on. He didn't bother to turn off his car. As he sprinted up the steps, he could hear the shouting. Autumn would be in her room by now. She only called in private.
He barged through the front door without knocking. The two people in the room didn't even notice that he'd come in. If not for the wind, Owen could have made it to Autumn's room undetected. As it was, a large gust of air caught the screen door and slammed it against the siding. Owen was already half way down the hall and didn't stop when the cussing started, this time in his direction.
Autumn's door was locked. He knocked three times and leaned into the door jamb. "Baby? It's Owen. Let's go."
A few seconds later, the door opened and Owen was hit with a blast of icy air. Autumn moved into the light. He flinched, though he tried very hard not to. He reached for her hand and towed her down the hall. "Drinking again?"