Rise of a Queen

By: Rina Kent

The flashlight that’s gripped tightly in my hand outlines a clear path on the black dirt. The distant hoots of an owl echo in the otherwise silent night.

It’s been a few months since the discovery of the murders, so the police eventually lowered the security around the crime scene. Currently, it’s almost as if nothing happened here.


Now that Maxim Griffin has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison and the victims’ families were able to give them proper burials, there’s nothing left here.

Nothing except for the yellow ‘Do Not Cross’ tape.

I do cross it, not because I’m bent on breaking the rules, but because if I don’t do this now, I won’t be able to in the future.

My hair sticks to my face underneath the baseball cap I’m using to cover my identity. I went from one bus to another to finally get to where I am now.

The few hundred pounds I have from my savings will be able to get me a motel room and a plane ticket so I can fly outside of England. Not far, though. Maybe Northern Ireland or Scotland. Since I’ll be seventeen soon, I’ll have to figure out a way to forge the new identity I was given in the Witness Protection Program.

I’ll figure it out. I have to. It’s the only way I’ll be able to escape the hell I’ve been living through during the last couple of months.

It’s the only way I’ll be able to start anew.

I wrap the coat around my body when a shiver goes through me, and I clutch the flashlight tighter. The graves in which Dad buried the women are still open.

Tears stream down my cheeks as I talk to them and apologise as I did to their families.

That’s all I’ve been doing during the trials — apologising. No matter how much I do it, it doesn’t seem to be enough.

Sometimes, when they hit or throw insults at me, somewhere in my brain, I feel like I deserve it. I’m the one who smiled and laughed and danced with the monster who ended the lives of their daughters, wives, and mothers.

I’m the one who didn’t see the devil, even though he was right in front of me.

If I’d searched before, looked before, maybe I would’ve noticed it. Maybe I could’ve stopped him.

But it’s useless now. It’s already done, so all I can do is apologise.

When I reach the empty grave, I kick dirt in it. My stomps are fuelled with the rage and the injustice I’ve been living through. The lie. The smoke and mirrors.

“I hate you, Dad!” Stomp. Kick. “I hate you so much! I wish you’d killed me first. I wish you’d never let me see you like that. I wish I was never your daughter.”

My throat burns with the force of my words, but the tears won’t stop soaking my cheeks and slipping into my mouth, making me taste salt.

I throw my head back and stare into the night, just like I did that day I begged for all of this to be a lie. A shooting star crosses the moonless sky, and instead of finding the beauty in it, a wave of grief hits me again. My sister loved shooting stars, but now, she’s no longer here to enjoy them. Alicia used to tell me to make a wish whenever we saw one, but I said those don’t come true, because Dad never let me believe in illusions. He never let me believe in Father Christmas or in the bogeyman or in the Tooth Fairy.

He forced me to live in reality and told me that actual monsters are scarier.

However, he made me believe in him — my superhero without a cape. Then he pulled the carpet from underneath my feet and left me as this shell of a person with nothing behind or in front of me.

I don’t know what to believe in anymore. My own sense of self is starting to fade and I don’t even have Alicia to talk to.

There’s Jonathan and Aiden…

I shake my head frantically at the thought. I won’t bring my baggage into my nephew’s life. And Jonathan is scary — he’d probably be the one who’d chase me off.

As my tantrum against Dad withers away, only a bitter taste remains — the fact that I’m truly on my own in the world now.

The sound of the crunching of leaves echoes behind me. At first, I think it’s one of the night animals who roam around here, but then I hear it again.

In the days when I used to hunt with Dad, he taught me how to recognise the noises animals make. We were marvellous stalkers and could find prey in no time.

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