by Mackenzie — After They Died

I sat in my car in the nearly empty lot, Metallica blaring out of the speakers and causing my eardrums to bleed; but it was so much like a lullaby to me, taking away all the pain of what had just happened. Almost making me forget that he was gone… for good. But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.

I let the last note play before I turned my key in the ignition and placed the car in park, opening my door and not even bothering to lock it behind me before I stumbled up the stairs to my friend’s apartment, exhausted from the past three days of not getting any sleep, and knocked on the door.

“Chris!” I yelled, throat raw, “Are you there?” I knocked some more. “Chris, please open up. Please…”

It seemed like hours before he opened the door but it was probably no more than 2 minutes before he emerged from behind it. He looked at me with a worried look on his face, “Katelyn?” he inquired. “What’s wrong? Why are you here?”

I only shook my head, “Just let me inside, Chris.”

He moved aside and pushed the door open wide enough to let me through, then closed it behind me with a click, locking it so that nobody would come in. I plopped down on the couch, my head in my hands, my body shaking so much because I didn’t want to cry, but I was ready to.

He sat down next to me and I could feel his eyes on me, watching me with concern. I knew he was worried, but what was I supposed to do? Explain to him I came here for no reason, that everything was fine even though he lives two hours away from where I do. Even though I’m only 16 and I just got my license but still came here. Even though I essentially just ran away from home since my parents have no idea where I am. No, I couldn’t do that. He worried enough about me as it was.

Besides, good girl turns bad wouldn’t exactly make him less worried.

“Katelyn, what’s wrong?” he asked.

I shook my head, as if that could make what I was about to say false. “My grandpa’s dead. He died this morning.” I said those words while choking back sobs.

Chris seemed to not know what to say for a moment, but then he wrapped his arms around me and said, “I’m so sorry, Kate.” He always called me that when he was trying to comfort me.

But even though he was trying to help me, I pushed him away, literally, and got up, going to his kitchen and searching in the cupboards. I knew that he kept a lighter somewhere in there. And right then, that’s all I needed, was a flame. Fire always took away the pain.

“Katelyn,” he began, just as I found it. “What are you doing?”

I clicked it on and started to put it on my skin just as he turned the corner and rushed towards me, grabbing it from me and putting it back where it belonged. “No, Katelyn Marie,” he said, “You can’t do that. I won’t let you.”

He wrapped his arms around me tightly and basically carried me back to the living room to the couch, sitting down next to me in the process. “Katelyn,” he said in a serious tone, “Do your parents know where you are?”

I shook my head and looked at him, then started crying a little bit, burying my face into his chest.

He rubbed my back and hugged me tightly, as if he could take away the pain from me by doing this. I’m not sure anything but that flame could take away the pain though. Hell, even that probably couldn’t have taken away the pain.

“Come on, Kate, let’s go to bed.” He told me.

I lifted my head and told him, “I don’t need to go to bed. I just need a lighter.”

“No, you don’t, Kate. Come on, let’s go.” He lifted me up and took my hand to do the same for me. I followed him unwillingly but too tired to fight, to his bedroom. He pulled back the covers and made me get in then put them back over me and said goodnight, kissing my forehead. “It’s gonna be ok, Kate, I promise.” he said, before closing the door.

Not too long after that, I heard him on the phone talking to someone.

“Karen?” he inquired of the voice on the other end. “Yes, this is Chris Ruthmeyer… uh huh, yes. Well, I called to let you know that your daughter is here with me and not to worry.”

I could hear the other voice distinctly by this point. First of all, the walls were bare thin. Secondly, he was probably right outside the door. Thirdly, the other person had a very loud voice and sounded like she was shouting. Fourthly, I also have supersonic hearing.

The voice sighed and said, “Thank you so much, Chris. You have no idea how worried I was.”

“Oh, I think I do, Karen. I think I do.”

“Things have been really hard for her ever since her brother died. And she was really close to her grandpa. I’m worried that she may not get through this without doing something drastic.”

“I’m keeping an eye on her, Karen. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she doesn’t do anything. I know how hard things have been for her. It was hard for all of us when her brother died.”

“Thank you so much, Chris. Can I ask one last favor?”

“Sure. What is it?”

“Can you bring her home tomorrow? We can come pick up her car soon but I don’t want her driving home by herself. She’s gotten no sleep in the past three days.”

“Oh really? She hasn’t? That’s news to me.”

“No, she hasn’t and I certainly hope she lets herself sleep tonight.”

“I hope so too.”

“Thank you again, so much, Chris. I can’t thank you enough. You’ve done a lot for Katelyn since her brother died.”

“It’s really no problem. But I have to get off the phone now, so I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay, bye Chris.”

“Bye, Karen.”

I heard him get off the phone and walk into the kitchen, hanging it up and plopping down on the couch. I was exhausted but I didn’t want to sleep nor could I, really. My mind was racing at a thousand miles an hour and I had no idea how to stop it. I really didn’t. I think that I must have thought about over a million things before I finally fell asleep somewhere around four in the morning, drifting off into dreamland. Or should I say nightmare land? Since all my dreams that night were terrible, so terrible that I woke up a couple of times in a cold sweat, thinking I had screamed but since Chris wasn’t there… I assumed I hadn’t.

I finally woke up for good around 1:35 or so in the afternoon. Chris was sitting at his desk, writing something on a notepad, reading glasses over his eyes and desktop light turned on. I sat up and the bed creaked, grabbing his attention.

He turned around in his chair and said, “Hey, Kate, how you feeling?”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Okay, I guess.”

He walked over and sat down beside me, brushing the hair out of my face. “I think we need to talk, Katelyn.”

“We do?” I asked.

“Yeah, we do.”

“Why?”

“Well, first of all, you lost your grandpa and I know you need to talk about that. Secondly, you ran away from home and drove two hours to get here on no sleep. Thirdly, you tried to harm yourself last night with the lighter in my kitchen. And fourthly, because I know that your brother’s death has made all of this five million times harder for you.”

I stared down at my hands, wishing I could just disappear because I didn’t want to talk to him. Of all the people in the world, I didn’t want to talk to Chris about this.

“So let’s talk,” he said. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Chris. Ever since Bryan died, I haven’t known how to handle anything.” I stared at his left hand and the ring on his third finger. “I was uber excited to have you as a brother-in-law and to finally see the two of you get married after New York finally legalized gay marriage. Then you guys got in that car crash and he… you made it but he didn’t. It ruined everything.” I said. “I loved him so much. Bryan helped me through a lot, Chris and I still don’t know how to get through things without him.” I paused, thinking. What I’ve said before. Chris wasn’t just a friend, he was my brother-in-law. “I don’t know what to do anymore.”

He took my hands in his and looked directly at me, into my eyes. “Bryan is still with you, Katelyn. He loved you very much and he wouldn’t be happy to see you doing this to yourself.” he paused. “I’m not exactly happy to see you do this to yourself either. You worry me.”

“I know,” I replied. “And I’m sorry.” I paused again and when I realized that he wasn’t going to say anything I continued on. “But ever since grandpa died it’s like things got way worse. Maybe I wasn’t doing well after Bryan died but once grandpa died it’s like the whole world crashed down on top of me. I don’t want to sleep anymore and I can’t. And all I want to do is burn myself to ashes. I can’t live without them here, Chris… I can’t.”

He rubbed one of my hands with his thumb, looking into my eyes with deep concern. He looked like he just wanted to hug me and never let go of me but instead he said, “So why didn’t you talk to me about this before you came here? Why didn’t you just call me instead of driving when you’re so tired and running away from home? I would have come to get you, Katelyn or I would have stayed there with you. You know I would have done that.”

“I don’t know why I didn’t do that. I guess I just wanted to get things off of my mind and what I did at the time seemed like the best thing to do.”

“Well, Katelyn Marie, it certainly wasn’t.” I gulped. When he said my full first and middle name, it was never good. “I have another question for you.”

“What?” I asked him, staring down at my hands again.

“Why did you try to burn yourself last night? I thought you were through with that. I thought you promised me you would never do that again and to come to me first if you felt like you were going to do it.”

“I don’t know.” I replied, finally turning my head away from him. He pulled it back and lifted my chin up with his finger, still holding onto one of my hands with his right hand.

“Katelyn, I care about you and your brother still does. I don’t like seeing you do this to yourself and I want you to talk to me from now on when you feel you need to do that. Do you promise me that?”

I looked at him pleadingly, tears in my eyes. I didn’t want to, but I nodded anyway, not sure I could keep that promise.

“Good,” he said. “But there’s another matter to attend to.”

“What?” I asked him in a weak, barely audible voice.

“Your running away.”

I stared down, ashamed. He put his finger under my chin again and lifted my head up so that my eyes met his. “That was very dangerous, Katelyn. And driving two hours away from home? What were you thinking?” he paused. “I know that you miss your grandpa and I know that you miss Bryan. I understand that things are hard for you right now but to drive two hours somewhere and not tell your parents where you’re going, essentially running away from home, is unthinkable. I wouldn’t expect such a thing from you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Just promise me you won’t do any of this again,” he was practically pleading with me.

“I promise.” I replied.

“Good girl,” he said as he kissed my forehead then leaned back against the wall and sighed, rubbing his temples.

It seemed unnatural for the conversation to end here. He was just going to give me a talking to and that was it? Bryan never did that. Neither did he. When I stayed with Bryan and I did something wrong he had always done more than just talked to me. Chris had always done the same after Bryan’s death when I stayed with him and did something wrong. This didn’t seem right.

I stared up at him and asked out loud, “That’s it?”

He looked down at me, “Yeah, that’s it, Katelyn.”

“You’re not going to spank me?”

“Should I?”

“I don’t know. I just thought you would.” I replied.

“I don’t know if I should, Kate. You’ve been through a lot. It doesn’t seem like right now is the time for that.”

I sighed and leaned back against the wall as well, not saying anything.

“Do you want me to?”

“No, I don’t want you to…” I paused. “But maybe you should.”

“Maybe you’re right,” he replied. “Maybe I should spank you,” he paused this time too. “Alright, Katelyn, follow me,” he said, getting up and lifting me up with him, then walking out to the living room and to the couch.

He sat down and pulled me in front of him, tugging at the button of my khakis and at the zipper then pulling them down to my knees before guiding me over his lap. Before I knew it, he was pulling my panties down too and resting his cool hand on my bottom.

“Do you know why you’re about to get this spanking, Katelyn Marie Mitchell?”

“Because I drove here after three days of sleeping for two hours and without telling my parents and because I’ve only had my license for a few months it’s especially dangerous.”

“That’s right. You could have gotten killed, Katelyn. It’s dangerous on the highways in winter around here and even more dangerous when you haven’t slept for three days straight. I hope that from now on you’ll use better judgment.”

“I will. I promise.”

“Good.”

With that he lifted his hand in the air and slapped it down on my backside with a resounding smack, quickly gaining a one two beat and getting harder and harder as time went on. I bit my lip, afraid of crying because I hated crying. Instead, I just kicked my legs a little bit and allowed myself to bear with it. That was until the smacks got harder AND faster, until he began peppering my backside with smacks. Then, I started screaming a little bit. But I still wouldn’t allow myself to cry. The worst part of all of this was… he wasn’t even scolding me at all. He was just spanking me. I think that made me feel worse.

I wasn’t sure how many times he had spanked me before he finally lifted me up. I tried to rub but he caught my hands as I did so and then smacked both of my thighs, saying, “You’re not getting off that easy, Katelyn Marie.” I whimpered at these words before he said, “Go to the bathroom and get the hairbrush… and hurry.” he added with a smack to my right thigh.

I walked quickly to the bathroom and opened the drawer underneath the sink, looking at the brush my brother had used on me before when I had gotten drunk for the first and last time. I almost cried looking at it, thinking about how he was gone and how he would never use it on me again. But I pulled myself together before doing this and grabbed it then shut the drawer and walked back out to the living room.

“Good girl,” Chris said before pulling me back over his lap.

He rested the brush on my bottom for only a split second before raising it high and smacking me quickly, harshly and very hard. He picked back up that one two beat pattern very quickly. Soon, I was screaming and kicking my legs. I’m not sure what it was that finally made me break but something inside of me just cracked and not too long after he had started, I was crying, my tears flowing freely.

And then he stopped.

“You worry me, Katelyn. You worry me a lot.” His voice was shaky. “Your brother would not be happy with what you decided to do last night. And I can guarantee you he would have done the same thing I just did if he were still here. He loved you, Katelyn. And your grandpa loved you. They both still do. You don’t have to do what you did last night to forget about them. Neither of them would have wanted that.”

I don’t know what it was about that last sentence but the moment he said those last few words I just broke and started bawling like a baby. With this, Chris gave me the last few smacks with the brush and stopped, putting the brush down on the coffee table and then started rubbing my back softly and in small circles, sighing.

To be honest though, I’m not really sure I knew it was over until he spoke to me again. Not until he said, “I love you, Kate.” And lifted me up, putting me in his lap.

He put my head against his chest and let me sob for all I was worth, soothing me with his voice. “It’s okay, sweetie,” he said. “I’m done. I’m all done.”

“I’m sorry, Chris,” I sobbed. “I’m so… I’m so sorry.” I was wailing by this point.

“It’s okay, honey. Shh… shh… calm down, calm down.” he whispered as he rubbed my back.

It must have taken at least half an hour before I finally calmed down enough to where I could finally talk to him in a normal voice. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you, Chris.”

“It’s okay, sweetie. You’re all forgiven now.”

“It’s just been so hard without him here, you know.”

“I know, baby, but he loves you. He always has. He always will.” On these words he broke, and started crying.

“I know,” I whispered, throat sore from crying so much and saddened even more when I heard him break.

He pulled me away from him and looked me in the eyes, tears in his own, “Promise me you won’t do this ever again.”

“I promise,” I replied, wrapping my arms around him and hugging him tightly.

“Good” he said, rubbing my back some more then lifting me up and onto my feet. I took this opportunity to pull up my pants and panties.

“Go ahead and get ready to leave. I’m taking you back home.” Chris told me.

“Okay… hey, Chris!” I called after him as I went down the hallway to the bathroom.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

He smiled, “You’re welcome.”

Needless to say, the drive home sucked. But at least I knew I was loved.

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