Friday, July 17, 2009

Accidental Collection

I remember the day at the hospital. It had been a difficult childbirth with hours of painful labor. My father could not stay in the delivery room the whole time since he fainted at the sight of blood, and bleed my mother did. In the end it was only my youngest sister Anna who survived. A five year difference between us was enough time to make me the new matriarch of our home. A job that I was forced to take, seeing as how dad had become useless without mom. We lived off of grilled cheese sandwiches and the hope that grandma could watch us on the weekends. And so we grew.

Any normal child would have felt the pangs of guilt associated with being their mother's murderer, but not Anna. Sweet Anna. A girl born with no sense of right and wrong, or the ability to stop herself from doing terrible things. The words of a scorned sister, no doubt, but also the truth. Anna was born early and had all the disabilities associated with one who was brought into the world too soon. I loved her all the same.

Early on we noticed Anna has a penchant for scents. She would collect dried flowers, essential oils and anything she felt graced her nose in bottles. Some of them large, holding almost full-sized plants of dried rosemary and oregano. Others no bigger than a thimble containing something that could only be smelt by her. And then there was one bottle of perfume, my mothers, and the only connection we had to her. Together we would open the bottle and imagine what having a mother must feel like.

I moved away to go to college and moved back when my father passed away two years into it. Anna was again my responsibility. When I moved back her collection of bottles and jars had grown to fill the house. You could barely walk the steps without almost knocking over a vessel of some sort. I confronted Anna explaining to her that we must find a better way to store them. She was uncomfortable with the idea at first, but I was sure that I could convince her. Perhaps having them all in her room would be the best thing for her and myself. I built shelves all along her room, lined the walls with them and began packaging and moving the bottles.

To my surprise Anna began to help. She carefully wrapped the jars in cloth and moved them one by one to the shelving units. Eventually we were down to the last half a dozen or so so I piled them all into a box and carried them gingerly into her room. She was sitting on the floor with mother's perfume, rolling the bottle between her hands and letting the smell waft into nostrils. I watched as she began to cry. Perhaps she did regret being the cause someone's death.

I went to her side, hugging her back, stronger than mine ever would be. As I did so the bottle dropped from her hands and smashed on the floor. The smell raced through the air just as fast as Anna did. She attacked screaming like a banshee, ear piercing cries. I could not fight her off. She was wild with her blows, kicking and hitting simultaneously. Then she grabbed my shoulders and smashed my head into the floor. I could feel the blood gush through the newly placed hole in my skull. I couldn't move as my neck had also been snapped. I could just watch her, an eternal child, an ignoramus, a monster, and a killer. She grabbed two small empty viles. In one she scooped up what she could of my mother's perfume, in the other she put a bit of the blood that was oozing from my head, smelling the sickly sweet metallic scent as she snugly put the cork in.

It was an accident. Everything was an accident.