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all the same to me

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Lily's hands are shaking when Amanda finds her, the knife clutched in a tight grip, the yellow kitchen gloves slick with reddish, brown blood. Her body is ramrod still, her spine a sharp, straight line arching upwards towards the ceiling.

Mark is on the ground, twitching, already in the final death rattle, already dead, his body just not caught up yet. Amanda heard the thump all the way downstairs, startling her awake and she thought, Lily, you’re going to get caught, already knowing what she had done, Lily, this isn't the plan, Lily, you're too emotional for this. It wasn’t hard to put together the pieces of what she'd done.

Amanda can’t tell how many times Lily stabbed Mark--it was all a little too much. Blood splatter, blood pool, blood spurts of it, all over his ergometer, his pristine exercise room. Messy and ugly and reeking, but not as a byproduct, not as a failed attempt at execution. By design. Passion and emotion, red hot.

Here lies Mark, crossed out. Here lies Honeymooner, spineless and broken.

“Lily,” Amanda says. Nothing else. Nothing else to say. She's not angry and she's not disappointed. It is what it is.

Standing right behind her, Amanda can smell the acrid scent of blood, and Lily's own musky sweat. She reaches out to Lily. Takes her bloody hand in her clean one. The rubber is slippery wet, yet clung to her skin. The blood is warm.

Lily turns back to look at her. Her face is wet with tears, eyes red-lined. Splashes of red on her neck and cheeks. Her white shirt, soaked in blood. It would have to be burned. There was no salvaging that.

“You should have done this naked,” Amanda says. “Lizzie Borden style. If you were going to do it here.”

“You're supposed to be asleep.” Lily's voice is a low, cracked sound, like broken glass.

Amanda shrugs. “I heard you.”

Lily doesn't say anything. Her body shakes like a leaf.

“C'mon,” she says, tightening her fingers, tugging Lily towards her. “We need to get out of here.”

 

*

 

Lily confesses, in tears.

Not to murder. To frame Amanda. The rohypnol, the screwdriver.

“You spilled my screwdriver,” Amanda points out. She drank about half of it and Lily “bumped” into the table, spilling the drink on the carpet. Oops, she said, which was obviously fake, even not knowing why.

“Obviously, I didn’t go through with it,” Lily says, wringing her hands. Clean hands. Glove and clothes in a black garbage bag, ready for disposal. This would be a tightrope act, if they pull it off.

“You should have,” Amanda says. “It would have been logical. Smart.”

“You would be in jail,” Lily answers, her voice muted, dropping low in pitch. Voice modulation, trying to be horrified.

“It’s not like it would matter to me,” Amanda says, thinking about it--going to jail, to prison, for Lily. “You should have let me drink that screwdriver.”

Lily's eyes are so wide, the whites are showing. Even covered in blood, she didn't look like a murderer. But then again, Amanda didn't look like a horse butcher.

“Amanda,” she gasps. Breathy. Wild eyed.

It's a little much.

“You don't have to do that, all of this,” Amanda waves her arm around. “You don't have to pretend to be guilty.”

 

*

 

They hide out with Tim. He lives in a run down apartment that smells of mildew and weed and burnt toast, with yellow-white peeling wallpaper and blaring fluorescent lights that give Amanda a headache. Lily hates it, she can tell. She is too easy to read, with her tight smile, pulled up high at the corners of her mouth, the twitch in her jaw. She smoothes her hands down over her jeans, over and over. Tugs her jacket around her. She hates this, this neighborhood. She hates this plan.

Two days of this, and Lily will turn Amanda in for murder, deciding she should have framed her after all.

Tim stares at them both when they show up at his door, not quite believing them, eyes wide. Tim looks the same, which means he smells like cigarette smoke and unwashed sheets, his face covered in day old growth of scraggly hair, the whites of his eyes noticeably red like he just took something. He had a sort of skeletal look to him, a hollow eyed gaze alight with mania and drugs.

“Oh, fuck no,” he says and moves to slam the door shut in their faces. It's funny, how scared he is of two teenage girls.

Amanda sticks out her foot, so the door slams against her when he closes it. It hurts, but not enough to react. She stares at Tim through the crack in the doorway.

Tim shudders. “Get your foot out of the way, Girl Interrupted.”

“Relax,” she tells him. “We don't care if you reneged. We're running away from home. Can we stay here?”

It's a perfunctory question. They are staying regardless.

Lily smiles, tugging a strand of hair behind her ears. It’s perfect simulacrum of politeness. “Please?”

“You're running away together?” He asks, dubious, eyes darting back and forth between them, but his gaze eventually just lands on Lily. He only looks at Lily when speaking. He doesn't want to look Amanda in the eye, darting away from her when she tries to make eye contact. Lowering his voice, he says, “You don't have to do what she says, you know.”

“You don't have to whisper,” Amanda tells him--it's not as if she's going to get offended--at the same time Lily says, “we'll pay you.”

Lily, with her well done hair and her smiles and her glamour doll looks, registers as a real person to Tim. Amanda thinks Tim maybe wants to fuck her, but the more important thing was that Lily was who Tim wanted to be; rich on a hill with a masion and everyone's attention to command at her feet.

Tim did not want to be Amanda.

Amanda doesn't wait for a further response. She shoves in past Tim, dropping a dark garbage bag on the floor. It was triple wrapped, so it wouldn't leak. “We’ll be out of your hair tomorrow. Promise.”

Later, Tim retreats to his bedroom, but Amanda can still hear him, pacing around, nervous like an animal. “He's going to crack,” she says. Their house of cards were only held together with duct tape and the whims of an emotionally volatile, drug dealing sex offender.

Lily sleeps on a couch, in a threadbare blanket, shivering. “Do you think they found him yet?” she says.

Amanda takes the floor. It's sticky with spilled soda, and smells like cheese puffs. Under the couch, she sees month old food, gone stale and hard, a fork, old receipts, scrunched up. A meaningless life, spilled out on the floor.

“Not here,” she says, shushing Lily.

 

*

 

Amanda wakes up to an argument, lowered voices, in the kitchen, but Tim's kitchen was a hop step away from his living room, no boundaries, no dividing lines. It was easy for it all to spill out. There is no line in the sand.

She inches herself slowly off the ground, peeking up over the couch.

Tim is talking in hushed, dramatic whispers but what really catches her eye is the gun in his hand. It was aimed towards the floor, his hand carelessly lingering on the trigger. Not a threat, not yet. Lily's body is all tension, her shoulders hunched, as if she could back away from the force of his gaze and words, but she is pressed against the counter, one hand gripping the edge so hard her knuckles were white from stress. Tim both looms over her and leans in closer to her all at once, their heads inclined towards each other, like co-conspirators. Amanda catches words like, did she make you do it, and you don't have to defend her.

Tim didn't look like a threat to Amanda. Tim was all talk and bluster, despite the gun in his hand. A runaway variable, dangerous in intent but wholly predictable.

Amanda walks out into the kitchen, and she doesn't have to say anything for Tim to jump like a startled cat, yelping and rounding around to face her. Lily backs away almost immediately as soon as his attention was taken off her.

Tim is staring at Amanda, his gun hand trembling. He advances towards her, so convinced of his rightness, convinced of the safety of the gun. He doesn't aim it at her, but Amanda knows, it's any moment now. “You did it, didn't you? You fucking killed him. I saw it on the goddamn news.”

Oh. They found the body.

Amanda frowns, blinking at him. She looks down at her hands and she's washed off all the blood, all trace evidence that Lily got on her. She examines her nails, her cuticles, searching for familiar red. None.

Moment of truth. Amanda searches for Lily--she is inching back in the kitchen, until she’s only at the edge of Amanda's vision, in the corners of it, disappearing and fading away.

“Yes, I did,” Amanda says plainly. There is no proof she didn't, except her word. She says it, and it becomes true. It didn't matter that Amanda didn't stab Mark. She did it now. It's her word.

It's her gift to Lily.

She wonders, head cocked, if this is what Lily wanted all along.

Tim lets out a shaky breath, running his free hand through his hair.

“Jesus Christ. You're a motherfucking psycho, I knew it.”

“I'm very in touch with reality,” Amanda clarifies. “More than you, even.”

Behind Tim, Lily grabs a knife, a dull blade from the sink. Gross. It’s probably not clean, covered in food residue. Amanda has a moment of wondering if that knife will cut through anything, when Lily pads over to Tim until she is behind him. Lily stands on her tippy toes, grabbing the back of Tim’s hair for leverage, and slices Tim's throat.

It all happens really quickly after that.

Tim makes a gurgling strangled noise, almost like a wheezing sound. His hand immediately goes to his throat, which wells up with thick, viscous blood immediately, dripping all over his hands, his shirt, the floor. He tries to shove his hand against the wound, like he could put enough pressure on it, save his own life, but the wound was far too deep for that. His eyes are so wide they look like they're going to pop out of his skull. He's crying.

Amanda lets out a breath. “You didn't hesitate.”

Lily isn't paying attention to her.

Tim manages enough strength to spin around to face Lily, stumbling about. The gun slips out of his hand, clattering on the now slippery ground.

Fucking evil children,” is the last thing he chokes out. Lily stabs him in the throat then, not hard enough so it goes out the other side, but it draws a startled, choked out scream from him.

Then Lily stabs him in the chest, and now it's just excessive. Tim falls to the ground, finally, hitting his sticky linoleum floor with a loud thump. Lily falls to her knees as if collapsing with him. She grabs his shoulders, knife still in hand, the blade scratching against his shirt and skin. She watches him die, not letting him go.

Amanda approaches Lily, placing a hand on her shoulder. “That's overkill.”

She expects a biting comment, some remark about how she would know. Lily doesn't hold back with her.

But when Lily gazes up at Amanda, her eyes are bright, glittering, and not with tears. Her pupils wide, blown open. Her mouth parts open, her teeth perfectly white. She runs her tongue over her lips, and breathes in heavy and deep.

Oh.

“You like this,” Amanda realizes.

Lily kisses her then, hard. She lunges up from the ground to press their lips together. She wraps her arms around her, pulling her close, smearing blood all over her. The kitchen knife digs into Amanda’s back, like she may just stab her if she trips or stumbles, if angles herself the wrong way.

It’d be an odd way to stab someone in the back, right where they can see it.

 

*

 

With Tim’s corpse five feet away, blood pooling around out towards Amanda, Lily fucks her. Her eyes are dark and her face flushed with heat and she had this look about her like she wanted to tear Amanda apart just as much as she did Tim, with two fingers in her cunt instead of a knife.

Amanda thinks this should worry her, but the worry was strange and distant, and not like worry at all. It was like touching an electrical wire to her brain, making her legs kick, her insides sparkle and go all aflutter.

It was Lily’s thumb on her clit, pressing down, not gently. The sensation shuddered through Amanda, all the way up her spine. It feels nice and she relaxes enough to close her eyes, spread her legs wider.

“I thought you didn't feel?” Lily asks. She smirks as if she's won something.

Amanda is the prize here.

Tim’s blood inches towards her head like a halo.

“I respond to stimuli,” she says. She cants up into Lily’s fingers, angling for more. “If you hurt me, I'll bleed.”

Lily grabs the knife, laying just barely out of reach, and presses the bloody edge to her throat.

“Will you?” She asks. Her eyes flutter with excitement. Tim’s blood adorns her face. It makes Lily look wild, fierce. Like she could take a bite out of her and devour. Like she knew Amanda would let her. “Will you bleed for me?”

Amanda’s cunt throbs, flashing heat throughout her body, and clenching around Lily’s fingers.

She doesn't nod but she tilts her head back, baring her throat. The blade cuts into her skin, a sharp burning sting as Lily crooks her fingers inside, thumb grinding just against her clit, looking for a climax.

Amanda gasps, and a moan slips out of her mouth, unbidden, as a wave of mounting pressure unfurls through her.

Amanda doesn’t feel but excitement was a stimulus. It got her heart rating going. Jumper cables on a car.

Pressure and stimulus. Clench and unclench and release.

She comes as Tim’s blood reaches the side of her face. Warm.

“Look what I made you do,” Lily whispers, reverent.

She pulls out her fingers and pulls away the knife. Both fingers and knife glisten with Amanda’s fluids.

“We can say he attacked you,” she says, a little far away, watching Amanda’s blood run down the knife with rapt fascination. “We had no choice. He made us kill Mark. He killed Mark--”

“You should really cut me harder then,” Amanda says. She leans back, and grabs Lily’s knife hand, bringing it closer. The blade scratches against her throat. “C’mon. A little deeper.”

Lily’s eyes shine as she cuts deeper into Amanda, fever bright.

 

*

 

After that, it's all over. Roll snare drum. Curtain call. Time for the cast party and the drinks.

The plan works. Maybe because Amanda is in the hospital, recovering from a slit throat, that people think Tim tried to kill them. Maybe because Lily heroically defended her from him, that they'll believe any story she feeds them, including that Tim killed Mark.
.
Maybe no one wants to believe that Lily is a murderer.

Lily visits, dolled up, pastels and pink lipstick, all but glowing. With prying eyes, she is dead-eyed and teary, playing traumatized victim well. Away from everyone else, she is obscenely happy. She brings flowers and kisses Amanda's cheek, leaving an imprint in her skin.

Amanda brings her fingers to her cheek, feeling her sticky warmth.

Lily makes small talk, telling Amanda how the world drifts and moves on while she recovers here. Brookmore is off the table, internships coming in. Its all meaningless chatter, stuff reserved for other people, not her.

“C'mon, ask what you wanna ask,” Amanda tells her. She can see a question, burning in her mind, behind her eyes.

Lily pauses. She bites her lip. Her teeth glint white, like a blade’s edge.

“Did it mean anything, that I fucked you?” Lily asks.

Amanda shrugs. “Why does it have to? Why do you have to assign meaning to it?” She trails off, thinking about it. She's keenly aware of her cunt, a flash of warmth between her legs. Even drugged up on painkillers, she could still feel that. The phantom sensation of Lily’s thumb, driving her to a climax, over the cliche metaphorical edge. “I’ll fuck you, if you want.”

“I want to do it again,” Lily says, drawing herself up to full height. Towering over her.

“Fuck me?” Amanda asks, head tilting. “Hurt me?”

“Kill someone,” she clarifies.

Let’s just murder half of Conneticut, Amanda remembers saying, just a few days ago. It wasn't a joke then, but right now it feels like it could be. Like it should be.

“Okay,” she agrees, thinking it over. “Someone we don't care about,” she suggests. “If you really wanna do this. Harder to trace back to us. We’re going to have to be a lot more careful.”

“I really want to do this,” Lily says. No more hesitations. She preens, like she's reached apotheosis, self actualization. She steps closer, and runs her carefully manicured fingernails over the bandage on her throat, where she cut Amanda.

Amanda feels something spark down her spine, making her shiver. Her cunt grows warm. She thinks she might be aroused, and her hand darts to Lily’s face, and ends up in her perfectly coiffed hair.

Lily smiles. “I wanna keep you,” she says.

The way she touches her, strokes her, it sounds like ownership. Like a pet.

And Amanda says, “Okay.”

That's okay with her.

Amanda doesn’t feel the sensation known as love. She doesn’t particularly feel like performing it either. But she has this; her hands in Lily’s hair, Lily’s bloody mark left on her skin, and the wide bright expanse that was their future in murder.

That’s all Amanda really has to give, at the end of the day.