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Credence
Author: Penelope Douglas


“Blue Blood” by LAUREL

“break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored” by Ariana Grande

“Dancing Barefoot” by U2

“Devil In a Bottle” by Genitorturers

“Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” by Joan Jett

“Fire It Up” by Thousand Foot Krutch

“Give You Hell” by The All-American Rejects

“I Found” by Amber Run

“Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down

“Look Back at It” by A Boogie wit da Hoodie

“Nobody Rides for Free” by Ratt

“The Hand That Feeds” by Nine Inch Nails

“Way Down We Go” by KALEO

“Wow.” By Post Malone

 

 

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

-Frederick Douglass

 

 

Tiernan

 

It’s strange. The tire swing in the yard is the only thing that makes it look like a kid lives here. There were never any drawings in the house. None on the fridge or walls. No children’s books on the shelves. No shoes by the front door or floaties in the pool.

It’s a couple’s home. Not a family’s.

I stare out the window, watching the tire sway back and forth in the breeze as it hangs from the oak, and absently rub the red ribbon in my hair between my fingers, feeling the comfort of the smooth surface.

He always had time to push her on the swing, didn’t he? He had time for her.

And she for him.

Walkie talkies shoot off beeps and white noise somewhere behind me while footfalls hit the stairs and doors slam above me. The police and paramedics are busy upstairs, but they’ll want to talk to me soon, I’m sure.

I swallow, but I don’t blink.

I’d thought the tire swing was for me when he installed it ten years ago. I was allowed to play on it, but my mother was the one who really loved it. I used to watch them out my bedroom window late at night, my father pushing her and the magic of their play and laughter making me want to be in the middle of it. But I knew as soon as they saw me the magic would change. It would disappear.

So, I stayed at my window and only ever watched.

Like I still do.

I bite the corner of my mouth, watching a green leaf flutter past the swing and land inside the tire where my mother sat countless times. The image of her white nightgown and light hair flowing through the night as she swung on it is still so vivid, because the last time was only yesterday.

A throat clears behind me, and I finally blink, dropping my eyes.

“Did they say anything to you?” Mirai asks me with tears in her voice.

I don’t turn around, but after a moment, I give a slow shake of my head.

“When did you last speak to them?”

I can’t answer that. I’m not sure.

Behind me, I feel her approach, but she stops several feet back as the clank of the first ambulance gurney jostles and creaks down the stairs and is carried from the house.

I tip my chin up, steeling myself at the distant commotion outside as the paramedics open the front door. The calls and questions, the horns honking as more people arrive, beyond the gates, where the media can no doubt see the body being wheeled out.

When did I last speak to my parents?

“The police found some medications in your parents’ bathroom,” Mirai broaches in her soft voice. “They have your father’s name on them, so they called the doctor and learned that he had cancer, Tiernan.”

I don’t move.

“They never said anything to me,” she tells me. “Did you know your father was sick?”

I shake my head again, still watching the tire sway.

I hear her swallow. “Apparently, he tried treatments, but the disease was aggressive,” she says. “The doctor said he… he wasn’t going to last the year, honey.”

A gust of wind picks up outside, churning the swing, and I watch the rope spin the tire as it twists.

“It looks like… It looks like they…” Mirai trails off, unable to finish her thought.

I know what it looks like. I knew when I found them this morning. Toulouse, my mother’s Scottish terrier, was clawing at the door and begging to get into their bedroom, so I cracked it open. The thought occurred to me that it was weird they weren’t up yet, but I let the dog in anyway. Just before I closed it again though, my eyes shot up, and I saw them.

On the bed. In each other’s arms. Fully dressed.

He wore his favorite Givenchy suit and she was in the Oscar de la Renta gown she wore to the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.

He had cancer.

He was dying.

They knew, and my mother had decided not to let him leave without her. She decided that there was nothing else without him.

Nothing else.

A sting hits the backs of my eyes, but it’s gone almost immediately.

“The police haven’t found a note,” Mirai says. “Did you find—”

But I turn my head, meeting her eyes, and she instantly falls silent. What a stupid question.

I lock my jaw, swallowing the needles in my throat. Over all the years of nannies and boarding schools and summer camps where I was kept busy and raised by anyone but them, I’d found little pain in anything my parents did anymore. But it seems there are still parts of me to hurt.

They didn’t leave me a note. Even now, there was nothing they wanted to say to me.

I blink away the tears and turn back around, trying to stare hard at the swing again as it twists and glides back and forth in the wind.

I hear Mirai sniffle and sob quietly behind me, because she knows. She knows what I’m feeling, because she’s been here since the beginning.

After another minute I see her outside the window, walking past me, and I hadn’t even realized she’d left the room.

She carries shears in her hand and charges right up to the tire swing, and as she raises the scissors to the rope, I clench my fists under my arms and watch her press the handles together, working through the rope until the tire hangs by twine and eventually falls to the ground.

A single tear finally falls, and for the first time since I’ve been home all summer, I feel something like love.

 

 

Hours later, the sun has set, the house is quiet again, and I’m alone. Almost alone. Reporters are still lingering beyond the gates.

Mirai wanted me to come home with her to the small, one bedroom she was certainly paid more than enough not to have to live in. But since she had always been here night and day and traveling wherever my mother went, it made more sense not to keep an apartment at all, much less rent a bigger one. I politely declined.

She took Toulouse, since that dog gets along with me about as well as he would a wet cat, and said she’d be back first thing in the morning.

I should’ve been nicer to her. When she offered to stay here instead, I just wanted everyone gone. The noise and attention made me nervous, and I don’t want to hear all the phone calls Mirai has to make tonight, which will just be a reminder of how all hell is breaking loose out in the world and on social media.

They’re saying things about my parents.

They’re speculating about me, no doubt.

The pity. The predictions of when I’ll follow my mom and dad, either by overdose or my own suicide. Everyone has an opinion and thinks they know everything. If I thought I lived in a fish bowl before…

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