The recurring alarm I set on my phone for the weekdays woke me up. I swore this ringtone was never this annoying before. I grabbed the parading device and ended the nuisance it made with a thumb slide on the screen. Then, I dropped the phone onto the ground.
I had school today. Figures. But my body simply didn’t have the will to rise from the bed. It wasn’t the lack of sleep that gravitated me to the solace of my mattress. It was the debilitating guilt that weighted me down as if a massive piece of concrete was sitting on my chest.
A stray tear rolled down my cheek. Then, another tear followed. And another.
Memories of what I did to Laura came back to haunt me like a wronged poltergeist. It was relentless as it was suffocating. I placed my arm over my eyes as the guilt-induced sorrow ripped through my body in gasping sobs.
Why didn’t I notice it earlier? The question plagued my conscience and strangled my morality.
I remembered Laura’s bellowing cries. I remembered how those cries excited me more that I would admit. I remembered how the cries made me wanted to rip more out of her. The cries of delight, as I first thought. Nothing sounded better than the shrill voice of my sister punctuated the secret room. Only after a minute did I register the distress reverberating in those cries. By the time I had removed her gag, half suspecting she was joking with me, it was already too late.
“My leg! My leg!” the words came back to me. “Ahhhh…my leg! Cramp! Ahhh…”
I shuddered and curled tighter under the sheet. My heart cringed at the memory of the spasm on Laura’s right thigh. I almost thought her leg would simply snap under all those strain. I must have looked like a clueless idiot then, gawking in fear with no bearing of what to do.
When I wanted to untie her leg, I only made the rope tighter by pulling on the wrong end. More precious time was wasted. When I wanted to cut the rope, there wasn’t any tool in the room that would do the trick. Another wasted minutes there. Out of option, I ran back up to the kitchen, grabbed a kitchen knife, and went back to Laura. Even that took a few seconds. When I wanted to cut the rope, the pathetically blunt knife barely able to tear out a few meager strands.
“Hurry! Layla!” Laura screamed in pain.
“Fuck!” I threw the knife to the ground and went back up to my room where I kept a pair of scissors in the drawer.
By the time I came back down to the secret room, Laura’s face was as pale as moonlight. She was no longer screaming, or thrashing…she was no longer doing anything.
“Laura?” I rushed to her with the scissors. I quickly cut the ropes tying her limbs, starting with the rope around her right ankle. The ropes were more robust than I expected and took me quite a bit of strength to cut them.
“Laura?” I asked again, my voice thick with desperation and fear, hoping against all odds that she was fine.
There was no response. Laura’s eyes were half closed, her pupil rolling around as if she couldn’t focus her sight. Her lips were quivering and her body trembling. Cold sweat beaded her forehead.
“Laura?” I called to her again.
And that was when I knew something terrible had happened to Laura. Without a choice, I called aunt Mary. The following event was a blur, a mangled mess of memories. I vaguely remembered it didn’t take long for aunt Mary to come back home. She made a few phone calls. She dressed up Laura with loose pajamas she brought down to the basement. Then, she carried her out to her car. I simply followed behind as I didn’t know what to do.
Thinking back what happened yesterday eradicated any hope for me to resume my sleep. I simply lied on bed, hoping that aunt Mary would soon come in and tell me to go to school. She always did that when I slept through my alarm. Perhaps using that opportunity to apologize to everything that had happened.
The morning sun rose above the horizon, casting its very first glimmer of light through the window blinds. I turned to the digital clock and it was already nine forty. My heart sank. Aunt Mary didn’t not come.
Reluctantly, I crawled out of my bed and went down stairs. I went straight to the kitchen since that’s where aunt Mary would in the morning. But instead of finding her, I found a plate containing a piece of toast and a fried sunny side up. I went to check for her car and it was not at the curb.
I dropped onto the couch and I let out a sigh. Pulling up my knees, I hugged them tightly against my chest. I felt my heart cracked, for my aunt to ignore me to this extend. I had never been in so much trouble that aunt Mary shunted herself from me.
I tipped over and stretched my body out along the couch. I eyed at the walls absentmindedly. There’s nothing I could do now, is there? The damage in the family’s relationship. It was like a fracture in our family that could never be repaired. Will we ever be the same again?