Don’t Look Back, You’re Not going that Way
Chapter 9: Don’t Look Back – You’re not Going that Way
Inside Kara’s car, the smoke was becoming thicker, the clicking louder. She opened her mouth, but no words escaped, instead she inhaled a mouthful of smoke. She coughed several times, nearly missing Ethen’s next words.
“I was already going to be rescued,” Ethen said, speaking so rapidly he stumbled over his words. “He would have come. That’s why you-you made a mistake. It was a mistake for you to come. A m-mistake for you to take him from me… so why-why did you?”
Love blinds people to the truth.
“You haven’t answered a single question yet.”
Though Bartholomew’s laughter was weak, it was still there. Laughter which clearly and plainly told Kara that this had been his backup plan for revenge, for losing 14 years of his life – the reason he had risked this face-to-face meeting with her.
Bartholomew had wanted to act the savior to Ethen and so had blindfolded him, preventing Ethen from seeing the true face of his torturer. And he was accurate his assessment. There was no way that she could bare to ruin the good image he had to have of Bartholomew – she owed that to Ethen, to let him have memories untainted by betrayal and pain. Memories unlike the tainted ones Ethen had to have of his relationship with her.
Despite how hard she had tried to bury her past, it had resurged in the worst way possible. After Kara had left home her mother had called the police on her father, making her father an official criminal on the lam. And not only had her mother turned in her father, her mother had turned Kara over to the police as well.
Therefore, while Kara hated her father for leaving her all alone, her mother had turned her into the police and in Kara’s books that made her mother even worse because at least her father had offered to take Kara with him. The problem with that proposal was it would have made Kara a criminal on the run, and, if she had been caught she would have never been able to try to live a normal life.
As Kara had been only 8 years old when the crime happened she was released fast. She didn’t return home. She asked to be emancipated, which eventually succeeded.
Because she had wanted a normal life so badly, wanted a life away from everything. Therefore, she had moved first chance she could to a new state, where she had met Ethen. Things had been good for a while, until they weren’t. And now, even after trying to escape her past, it was all crashing down on her as the result of the very accident was glaring at her with such hatred if looks could kill Kara was positive she would have been dead the second she had met him.
But she wasn’t dead. In fact, she was now a murderer. She had finished what her father had started, she had dealt the killing blow. Now lifeless, Bartholomew’s eyes still seemed to glare up at her, taunting and self-satisfied. There was no longer any chance for her and Ethen to reconcile. And there was no way for her to escape that reality. She would be seeing Ethen soon, she could feel it. And yet, unlike in the past, there was no eagerness, there was no hope.
Mechanically, she bent down and rummaged in Bartholomew’s pockets, searching for any clue to free Ethen. She found a rather large room key. It was completely white, unstained by the blood now staining the floor, and it was labeled with the room number 666. The devil’s number.
She smiled inwardly at the irony as she clutched the key tightly in her hand. Then, without looking back, she walked out of the room, closed the room door behind her and then walked up the stairs.
* * *
When she still said nothing, Ethen yelled, “Answer me!” Then there was a heart-crushing silence before the one-sided conversation continued. “He was pretending to be bad, I know he was. He was coming for me because he loved me. He told me so,” Ethen said, though the conviction was weakening in his voice with every word. “He loved me; he had to have loved me before you took him from me…twice. So please,” he added in a strangely soft voice as Kara and the gun barrel stared at each other. “Tell me the truth.”
The truth. Even if she did not, she knew she couldn’t get nor deserved Ethen’s forgiveness because, even though Bartholomew didn’t know the truth –didn’t know that Kara had been distracting her father when Bartholomew had been hit – Bartholomew still blamed her. Bartholomew had sensed the truth, sensed that it really was her fault, that she had murdered him twice.
And because of that she deserved to be punished. She didn’t deserve any kind of forgiveness at all. Instead, the best she could hope for, what she really wanted was for Ethen to move on from her. She wanted to prevent Ethen from getting trapped in the past. To do that Ethen’s hatred had to be focused on one person: herself.
Not on Bartholomew. Not on your brother, she whispered to herself. Not on the brother who blindfolded you. Blindfolded you to conceal the truth. To conceal that he was the perpetrator to your torture.
Finally. Finally she was able to speak. “Yes, I took him from you twice. I killed your brother.” She took a quick breath and added. “Yes, he-he did love you. That’s-that’s the truth.”
Did. As in past tense. But Ethen had no need to have that knowledge. He would be happier with this beautiful lie she had created for him, the lie Bartholomew had cruelly ignited; she would fuel so it was a full fire.
Ethen seemed to relax infinitesimally beside her. However, a small moan of pain, almost a whimper, left his lips, quickly followed by a watery and whispered, “Liar.” Abruptly the clicking from the car stopped and the smoke increased; it had started getting in their lungs causing them to cough and splutter. The clicking had been replaced by a high-pitched crackle. Their time was up.
But Kara’s attention was elsewhere. As though in slow motion she watched Ethen adjust the aim of the gun away from her and towards his own face. Before the silence was broken by the loud bang of the gunshot, Kara gasped, lunging forwards purely by instinct; she rammed into Ethen at the same time as she reached behind him and yanked the door open. The gun let off several more bangs as they both tumbled from the car, rolling over and over each other until abruptly they stopped with Kara on top of him. The gun was sizzling slightly from the end, having gone off several more times as they had rolled around on the dirt ground. Now it was above his head, the barrel pointed at the sky.
Even in the darkness she could see tears falling down Ethen’s face along with trails of blood from the bullet that had grazed his cheek, yet missed taking his life.
Blood also streamed down her own face, clouding the vision on one side of her face from another of the stray bullets.
“You hurt my big brother. You took him from me for 14 years. You changed him, ruined who he was. And yet why…why can’t I…why can’t I hate you? Why?”
Slowly, very slowly Ethen started to point the gun into Kara’s face. However, she knocked his arm aside.
“You want to know my truth?” she whispered. She placed his face between her hands and bent over him, gently pressing her lips to his. He tensed in her arms, but eventually relaxed into her, the hand holding the gun falling limply to his side; at the same time the car exploded behind them, yet not, as Kara had predicted, consuming them in its deadly flames.