Blood, Crayons & Hayley’s Imaginary Friend
“I know Frank.”
Hayley knew. Her toes were numb. Everything was blurry.
But fuzzy Frank kept staring up at her with his black, glassy, teddy bear eyes, as if to say, “Can’t you turn on the heater, so we don’t need all these blankets?”
“I can’t,” she said, “thermostat’s broken.”
“Get Mom to fix it.”
“Mom’s still asleep.”
“Tell Dad then.”
“Dad’s sleeping too. They won’t wake up and they smell funny.”
(1 day later.)
New adults came. They seemed surprised. They ran to her quickly, and picked her up. Kidnapping, she thought, like in CSI, and it scared her.
They pulled a white sheet over Mom and Dad.
(3 months later.)
Adopted. Fostered? It happened so fast.
They gave her to new adults. Parents. They smiled a lot, in front of the other adults. Agnes wore great globs of blue eye makeup. Terry was fat and wore a tie.
They both smelled like the homeless lady on 23rd, most of the time.
Auntie Agnes liked to draw in the air with a silver crayon and drink brown rum.
“Can I play with the crayon today Auntie?” Hayley would ask.
It was so pretty, like a mirror. Auntie told her it was magic and it drew red.
(One week later.)
She knew about the bedtime snacks with Frank.
She snatched up Hayley and raised the rod high.
This beating didn’t sting and burn like the others. It felt savage, like a steel bat on her black and blue legs, and it felt like her legs might break.
“Stay still you little RAT!”
(7 hours later.)
Everything hurt when she woke. Eyes were blurry.
There was a black shiny marble by her foot.
It was his eye. The scattered fluff, that was Frank too. Her best friend.
Hayley pulled her legs up to her chest and wept.
Things were different now, with Frank dead. To hit her like that. To kill Frank, cut him into pieces, sprinkle his body on her broken body.
No food for days. Scrubbing for hours. Now this.
She had to escape.
Then she heard it.
Something tugged at the corner of her mouth, and pulled it up into a grin. She’d know that voice anywhere.
It was Frank.
Snores came from the living room.
One step at a time, Frank said.
She tiptoed to the couch.
Standing on her toes, she reached over the back of the couch and drew a pretty pink-red line with the crayon, rose-red on Agne’s throat. Auntie was right about the silver crayon.
It’s a switchknife silly, not a crayon, Frank told her, you know, like in CSI. You need glasses.
Whatever it was, Hayley liked it.
It drew straight and lovely, leaving a long, magical line of dripping red across the pale white of her neck. It looked more like paint than crayon, Hayley thought, but it was pretty all the same.