Disclaimer I don't own the song "Isn't She Lovely?" by Stevie Wonder.
Author's Note Hello, everyone! Welcome to Lovely, a hopefully very different sort of story, which would not have been possible without a lot of help from a lot of wonderful people. You know you who you are.
But before we continue: this story does continue mentions of suicide (not the actual depiction of it). If that is not your cup of tea, sorry. It was nice having you.
Hope you enjoy,
chapter i: baby
She was cornered, and she knew it, too. Her eyes darted this way and that, searching for something or someone to save her. She was waiting for her precious knight in shining armour, her sacred prince charming. But the walls were solid here, and no one could break them. She was stranded here without the pillars of her support. She was alone, an island unto herself. There was no one to run to, nowhere to hide. She knew that, but still she fidgeted, as if she had a hope of escaping.
You can imagine how proud I was.
I mean, it’s not every day that you manage to snag her of all people in your trap. That’s pretty revolutionary. Or at least I think so. But that’s not important. This is important.
“Good evening, Clara.”
The look on her face made me laugh.
“Sit down, Clara.” I sat down myself to show her the chairs here weren’t instruments of torture or whatever it was she feared. And she feared a lot of things, obviously.
“Why do you look so afraid, Clara?”
She sat down, but on the floor. Happily it was carpeted, but I bet she could feel the stone beneath it.
“That was not a rhetorical question.”
She was as silent as I’d ever seen her. And I knew her better than most people did, I assure you.
“That means you have to answer it, Clara.”
I looked forward to breaking her.
I considered steepling my fingers, but decided that was too dramatic. This whole thing was plenty dramatic.
“What are you afraid of, Clara?”
She drew her legs up so that her knees reached her chin. With her arms wrapped around her legs and her expressive, flighty eyes staring at me, it almost seemed like she was unduly here. As if she didn’t deserve dying at so young an age. But that’s a blatant lie.
“Clara, I’m getting tired. I’m asking you nicely to answer my questions. And if you do, well, maybe…” I ended on an ambiguous note, to give her the impression that she could haggle her way out of the trap. False hope.
But it worked. Or maybe she was tired of playing the victim when we both knew she was nothing of the kind. I wasn’t too fussed about the reasons for her speech, pleased that I’d forced her, some way or other, to obey me.
“I’m not afraid of anything,” she muttered. Her words were cut short because her chin kept hitting her knees, giving her voice a staccato, uncomfortable tone. Which, I have to say, did suit the situation quite well.
She closed her eyes briefly, letting the word roll off her back. She’d heard it often enough, but never from me, and never with such conviction. You see, everyone suspected her of being a liar, and when they did call her that, it was teasingly, halfheartedly. I had caught her in the act. I knew it. I was going to kill her.
“You are a liar, Clara,” I said again. “You’re a fraud and a cheat and a liar, and you know what else? You’re a monster. That’s what you are.”
She did not contradict me. As I suspected, she was tired of playing the victim, the innocent. That was not her place anymore. She was not going to be the beloved anymore; she was not going to be the coddled one, someone’s baby. She was going to pay for her mistakes with her life.
“You don’t deny it.”
“Because you are, too.” She stared at her bare feet, unable to meet my eyes because of guilt and what I thought was some sort of defiance. “You’re all monsters, every last one of you, and if you think I hid it well, that’s nothing compared to you, is it? Look at what you’re doing. Look at what you’ve done. Say what you will about me,” she spat, “but you can’t say that I meant to hurt anyone. I didn’t, and I think you know that.” She raised her head, fixed her gaze on me, and said, very clearly, “I think you know that, and that’s why you’re confronting me here, alone, so no one else is around to see what you have done. Not me. No one cares about me, except I guess for you. It’s you everyone truly hates, it’s you no one can stand, it’s you who no one trusts–”
“You’re delusional, Clara.”
“So are you.”
“You don’t deny it.”
But I was tiring of this back-and-forth. That’s not what I was there for. That’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to be the one dragged into the dialogue. That was her place, not mine.
“There is no easy way I can put this, Clara,” I said. “But I’m about to kill you. So if I were you, I’d start talking. Or else.” I’ll kill you.
“Talk about what?”
“I want to hear it from your lips. I want to hear you say it. You’re going to admit to what you’ve done and you’re going to do it now. So start talking, before this becomes much worse for you than it already is.”
She flinched at the image. She could imagine how much this could escalate, and she could do it easily. Liars like her have good imaginations, but they are not imaginative. They are not creative. She could never have imagined that her end would come this way. It had never occurred to her that anyone was actively out to get her. She couldn’t fathom that it was by my hand that she would fall and die.
It was almost poetic, in a way.
“I’m waiting, Clara.”
She glared balefully at me, but I expected nothing less. “Yeah, I killed her. I killed my sister. I’m the reason she’s dead.” She tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “I killed her.”
“Tell me how.”
“Do I look like I’m joking, Clara?”
“I don’t believe you,” she said. “I think you’ll be too scared to tell other people, because then you’d have to tell them what you did to me, and then they’ll see you for what you are and they’ll see that you’re so much worse.”
I couldn’t believe her. She was bringing this up again even though we’d already discussed this. She was mad. Absolutely mad. Then again, she killed her sister. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“I never killed anyone.”
“You just threatened to kill me yourself.”
“Oh, Clara.” I smiled at her, perhaps the first genuine expression of warmth I’d given her in months. “You didn’t think I would murder you, did you? Dear God, no. I would never do that. There are other ways–better ways–to ruin someone. And you deserve the best.”
“I still don’t believe you.”
“Tell me why your sister is dead, Clara.”
“She’s dead because she was stupid.” When she saw that I was not satisfied, she sighed. “I already gave my statement to the real authorities. I’m not guilty and I’m not going to be prosecuted or put in Azkaban. You can’t do anything to hurt me.”
“Clara, Clara, Clara. You keep saying these things, but I don’t think you truly understand what you’re saying. You don’t understand what I can do.”
“I do, actually. I’ve just decided that I don’t care.” She got to her feet, smoothed her blouse, and watched me from on high. I stood too, to remind her that I still towered over her–she could disguise it however she wanted, but the truth was that I was tall and she was short. And the truth cannot be ignored. “I’d like to see you try to kill me, whatever that means. And you know what, darling? I wish you the best of luck. Believe you me, you’re going to need it.”
She swept past me and exited the common room without so much as a glance backward.