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It would be a week before the smell of rot would alert the worker on my grandfather’s farm to what had happened – to what I had done. The body of Holden was found crumpled and bloodied in a silo of grain by Hugh on his monthly equipment check-up – he noticed the stench and of course alerted the police. This was huge news for such a small town and gossip spread at an alarming pace. The body was described as “viciously mangled” by the local news channel two days later. I wouldn’t describe what I did as vicious, I think that’s the wrong adjective – I’m not an evil person, but I doubt others will see it that way. He was ‘the golden boy’. But I stand by my actions – I did what I needed to do, and I do not regret it.
My boyfriend Holden and I drove up past the ‘Sunny Vale’ sign just before the sun broke over the farm. The first light peeking through the trees danced over the windshield, making me squint as we bumped along the gravel drive. Holden was asleep, out cold. I don’t think he uttered a word beyond a grunt the entire ride. It was a four-hour drive to Sunny Vale farm from the city and I insisted to Holden on leaving as early as possible. I needed to make the most out of the time we had there, and I didn’t know when an opportunity would present itself. We drove past the unkept fields of canola, meter-high gold plants, popping up through the yellow was the rich purple of Patterson’s curse, sending its toxins through the soil. A pest. A plague. My grandfather stopped farming livestock when he realised that keeping it away was just too hard. He always tried to spray it with chemicals, but the real and difficult way to get rid of it was to remove it from the very root – you can’t give it a chance to grow back. We continued up the drive to the farmhouse. It was a beautiful eighteenth century building, old and worn but sturdy. Either side of the front door were two hydrangea bushes, pink. I always thought it gave the house an innocent feel. It was simple, almost cutesy.
A small grunt of acknowledgement.
The day we arrived I spent alone in the sunroom that overlooked the property. Holden was having a rest. The warmth of the room was comfortable, making me lazy. I sat with my legs curled up as I did the daily crossword in the paper.
“Three across. Eight letters, devilish”.
I heard dragging footsteps coming towards me. Holden was clearly awake now, shuffling towards me in his slippers that he refused to throw out. I didn’t look up. He put his hands on my shoulders and I tensed. My amygdala pulsing in my head. But just then before I had a chance to get up fast and brace myself, a soft kiss on my cheek.
“Afternoon honey,” he said with a yawn.
He walked over to the chair next to mine and opened his novel and began to read.
All I could think for the rest of the day was if I could go through with it or not. Throughout the evening he made us dinner – something which I’d neglected for the two years we’d been dating – he joked around, laughed. I began to forget about the real reason I brought Holden here .
“God, you’re in an awfully good mood,” I laughed.
“Should I not be?” he replied almost defensively.
“No, of course you should be. I just haven’t seen you like this in a long time”
“So, what? You’re saying I’m always just miserable? For fuck’s sake, you know I’ve been under pressure lately. I just wanted a nice weekend away, but no. You had to fucking make it about what I’m doing wrong. How selfish can you be?”.
He stood up and slammed his chair and stormed off into the bedroom.
“Night,” he grumbled.
My eyes became hot as salty tears began to well. I looked down at my hands and noticed I had been wringing them throughout this conversation – hands red and sore and worn, a habit I had developed only in the last two years. The room was silent, and it made me feel a heavy sense of loneliness fall upon my shoulders. I found myself walking into the kitchen, behind the marble bench. My hands drifted to the top draw and I rifled around until my hands fell upon the smooth, sturdy handle of the pocketknife that lived there and I slipped it into the pocket of my trousers. Never did know when you would need one; it was a handy place for my grandfather to keep such a tool.
The previous night had solidified my decision, and, in the morning, we set out for my favourite paddock on the quad bike . My favourite part of Sunny Vale was the far paddock that bordered the neighbouring farm. It was sparse in terms of crop, just grass and dirt, the odd canola stem, but there was an abundance of the Patterson’s curse. In the middle, there was a willow tree that was leaning forward, precariously reaching over a dam. It’s not so obvious now as it exists as a mere tendril, but there used to be a rope with a thick knot at the bottom that we would swing on into the dam as kids, and then hurry out so as to not step on the resident yabbies. The two of us dismounted the bike then walked toward the willow tree. I put my hand in my pocket and felt the comforting weight of the pocketknife I had taken before going to bed the night before.
“I’m sorry about last night”, Holden muttered. “I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you”.
He reached for my hand, and I fought the urge to pull away. We sat at the base of the tree, the purple flowers tickling my shins. His head fell onto my shoulder, his fingers tracing the outline of my hand. It was so quiet. How could something so pretty be so toxic? It was such a delicate flower, and as he continued to apologise to me, I pulled the plant up from the ground. From the root.
“You’re always sorry,” I trailed off as I turned to face him head on and put my hands on his shoulders. I looked into his eyes as I felt around in my pocket. I saw confusion cross his face as he saw the knife appear in my hands. I flicked it open and saw the realisation of what was happening show on his face. He tried to reach for my wrist, but I was faster, and I plunged the knife into his neck. His hands wrapped around his throat, and he began to stand up, spluttering blood but not being able to make a sound. He lunged for me, and my heart stopped – would he have one last go at me before the end? But he fell onto his hands and knees, slowly crumpling. Red dripped onto the purple, down into the cracks in the dirt. Relief. I looked at the corpse in front of me and suddenly all the anger I had been holding onto was released. I turned his body over and stabbed him. Again, again and again. So many times, I lost count. Breathless, I stopped. He was done.
I existed in silence for the rest of the day, which progressively got harder as the day darkened into night. I thought the hardest part of the deed would be the actual killing, but the removal of the body was excruciating. Holden was solid, even in death, and moving the corpse proved difficult. I resorted to dragging the corpse by its legs and trying to walk backwards. I had to look straight ahead as every time I looked down, I saw the head of the man I once loved bump over rocks and grit, and his once beautiful face started to look unfamiliar with each new cut. I managed to haul the corpse over the back of the quad bike, his limbs dragging on both sides. The property had three silos and I lugged the limp corpse off of the bike and tried my best to drag it to them. I tied the ropes from the bucket elevator around the corpse and pulled. I pulled until my hands started to bleed. His body kept hitting the silo, and the thud made me shiver every time. Eventually, a blood-soaked length of rope later, the body was at the top, ready to be dropped into the silo. And then, all of a sudden, I felt simply free.
In the afternoon I drove back to the farmhouse with a blank mind. I knew he was gone, but I don’t think that reality had set in. I had a shower and I watched as the red dripped down my fingertips into the drain. I should have felt guilty – I know that. But I didn’t. I didn’t feel an ounce of remorse. I kept replaying my brutal actions in my head – the look on his face when he realised he was getting what he deserved. The satisfaction I felt from that moment was insurmountable. I knew this wasn’t a normal reaction. I dried off and went into the sunroom and sat down where I had the previous afternoon. I was so tired physically, but my mind was awake. People wouldn’t understand why I did what I did. I never questioned what it meant to be evil, and I never considered that to be a word others would use to describe me. I didn’t care if people found out I killed Holden, I cared about the way I would be perceived. The crossword was still sitting there; just yesterday I was an innocent. Three across. Eight letters, devilish. Diabolical.