It was not the first time she had been here. She sensed that. Though she had no concrete memory of a previous experience at this exact place, with every fiber of her being, she knew that she had seen this place before. That she had heard these voices before. That she had smelled the stale smell of sorrow and regret that permeated the air in this context. But the stranger in her face assured her that she hadn’t. It could have been a dream, maybe you read it in a book, but you don’t know me, you don’t know me he repeated. You don’t know me. And she didn’t, but that wasn’t because they hadn’t met before, it was because he had long since ceased to exist. He didn’t know himself, his own mother probably would not recognize that harrowed face, those sunken cheeks, that crude sketch of a human skeleton. But she knew what he was like, because she had met his transformation a thousand times over. She knew what he would say before he opened his mouth, and she knew what she would say to push him toward the next cursory statement until all perfunctory actions and words had been exchanged and everyone left momentarily happy. You don’t know me, you don’t know me. I’m different. And she knew this was just a lie, but…but that was not in the dialogue. And that made him different, but only just so.
“Do you like to hurt?” he asked.
No one liked to hurt, not really, but sometimes it felt better than feeling nothing at all, and some people are masochists, and sometimes amidst pure excruciation, everything became silent and clear. She could not answer.
“Do you like to hurt?” he repeated. Just like he repeated “You don’t know me” but she did.
“I like to hurt.”
And he was different.
“You’re pretty,” he said.
“I’m not pretty.”
“Why aren’t you pretty?”
“I’m ugly on the inside.”
“I know you are.”
And of course he knew she was, because that’s why she was here. That’s why she liked to hurt, but he hated her because she used to be pretty on the inside. He used to know her, before her harrowed face, her sunken cheeks, her posing like the crude sketch of a human skeleton. And he hated to see her hurt, and he hated to see her lie and say she liked it.
“Can I hold you?” he asked.
She didn’t see why not. Maybe it would be nice to not have something hurt for once. Maybe it would be nice to feel the gentle touch of a human.
Or maybe it wouldn’t.
He put his arms around her from behind and put a knife in her back and watched her little body fall to floor and he prayed for forgiveness, he prayed she could finally cease to hurt.