Bella Donna
rating: +10+x

Once I am into the park, out of sight from the road, I try to slow my pace down. I still can't calm my breathing.

I'm mentally retracing all my steps and thinking about anybody who saw me. I catch myself lost in my mind, then freeze and rapidly check my surroundings. It's dark and quiet, and I am all alone. I start to walk only on the grass at the edge of the paved trail, anything to feel more stealthy in this moment.

As I come close to the big rock by the creek, I am startled by a moving shadow. I tense for a second, but the clouds seem to move apart and the moon beams down on Donna.

Bella Donna. She goes by Donna, but Belladonna is, like, her real name. I think it fits, because she is beautiful. She has dark hair and green eyes and is the prettiest girl I've seen, I think.

She's not like the other girls in school; she doesn't seem to hang around with any of them in groups like they do. I don't hang around with many of the guys in groups like they do either, I guess. But she seems so confident about it, like she never wanted to in the first place. I wish I could seem like that.

But maybe, underneath that, maybe she is lonely too? Maybe, like, we could be loners together?

I tried to talk to her at lunch one day. I don't remember now what I said right before, but she laughed and smiled and touched my arm. Then ████ came over and started talking a bunch of shit. I hate this guy and he acts like he's my friend (even though we don't hang out or anything) and then just rides the shit out of me about all kinds of crap.

He straight up bought two milks in the cafeteria, so he'd have an extra one to "accidentally" spill on my pants, that jerk!

She laughed when that happened, but it wasn't nice.

"Do you still have it?"

I'm standing with Donna now, in the park at night. We're by the big rock near the creek; it's a little clearing off the paved walking/bike trail. This is a spot we stop sometimes while walking home from school together.

I reach into the pocket of my sweater and gently take out the cloth-wrapped object.

We are walking home from school one day. It's springtime and sunny, but the air is still cool. I hold her hand when we avoid a puddle from yesterday's rainshowers. We make our way toward the shade of the rock.

Donna has something to show me, she says. Bending down to root through the bottom of her bookbag, she stands again holding something leather. It's a sheath, and from it she draws an ornate looking dagger of some kind. I am in awe of how the handle looks so finely crafted, of how the blade glimmers in the sun's rays scattered between tree branches. Of how sharp it's every point and edge seem to be.

She tells me it is like a family heirloom - given to her father by his mother on his 16th birthday; passed down by him to her on hers. She tells me something spooky about this blade and the bonds associated with its use; that it has ties to a secret religion. Nalka. She makes sure I say it right: Nälka.

I didn't want to say anything that might hurt her feelings.

She takes it from me and gently pulls the knife out and away from the cloth. Even in the pale moonlight, it reflects an unsettling gleam.

I thought I had wiped it off, but the perfect sheen of the blade is marred by a few smeary flecks of blood left behind.

She asks me if I did it.

I am at the schoolyard earlier tonight; past the fence by the far end of the field, where it is out of sight. It is just after dusk, and I'm standing in shadows.

Then He shows up.

I step out of the shadow, and it takes him a second to recognize me.

"Is that you?" he says. "Oh my god, it is. Don't tell me it's you I'm here to see now; for the dime?" He thinks I have pot for him.

"Well, Donna didn't mention that on the phone. But I guess I should have known. I mean, why else would a babe like her be seen hanging around a loser like you, right? Yeah yeah, it's actually all coming together now."

My hand is shifting inside my sweater pocket, sliding past cloth and gripping a hilt. An anger is welling up inside as he says these things to me.

"Well alright, give me the bag then. What, you want the money first? Well if it's just you here, then you ain't getting it. Too bad. Hand me the bag before I punch you out and turn your pockets for it, you little f-"

My hand comes out of my pocket.

"Did you do it?" she asks again. "Did you do what I said you should?"

I want to say 'yeah' real cool-like, but it comes out more like a hoarse rasp. I say it again, but this time it's almost a yelp. I just nod my head.

She reaches out and touches my face.

I look into her eyes and she looks into mine.

"How did it feel?" she asks me.

I don't want her to see if there might be tears in my eyes, so I'm looking up at this cloud that seems to want to touch the moon but just can't … She pulls my head down to her shoulder, and I stand close to her.

She whispers gently in my ear. "How did it feel?"

I don't know what to tell her. His face had been in my mind for the whole walk over here. Every time I closed my eyes I'd see the changing expressions: the menacing sneer; almost a moment of amusement, before the stunned confusion; then panic; and fear.

I try my hardest to breathe without sobbing. I think my nose might start running, so I pull back from her.

She looks right at me now, her face suddenly so serious. "How did you feel," she asks. "When you killed him?"

I don't know what else to say but the truth. I say it felt awful. I say that I went and did this for her, and it was awful, and now I feel real bad.

I am really about to cry now, and I'll be sorry about getting snot on her shirt later, but I lean forward again. I feel a sting in my ribs.

I think I hear a small startled cry from her. Then a moment later I hear it again, only more like a chuckle. Something warm spilled on my shirt? It's running down my chest.

 Together, her and I drop to our knees. Gently, onto the grass.

I lean back and look up to her. She is smiling down at me. "Oh you," she says lightly. "I don't think that's what it felt like at all."

I'm lying on my back now, and with a full moon halo she looks more beautiful to me than ever before.

I guess this must be love.

X ♡ X


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