Vermiciro's Repository: Backstories, Shorts, and S

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A backstory for Judith Penderghast, a character of mine being used in the roleplay On the Lam with WistfulBeast.
Roughly 10,000 words. Contains violence, lesbians, and drug use.

Judith: An incorrigible vagrant doing what she finds necessary to get by.
Camilla: A vivacious, free-spirited college student who takes interest in Judith's lifestyle.
Marta: A college student Judith is presently living with and perceived to be dating.
Adam: Camilla's boyfriend and an inflexible realist.
Meredith: Judith's elder sister and the middle child of three. She works as a nurse and is currently caring for their ailing mother on her own.
Miriam: Judith's eldest sister who married an abusive high-school love.
Craig: Judith's supplier.
Autumn was a lucrative season. Fresh faces in the college community, most going on their parent’s dime, provided a plethora of pockets to tap. Judith could hear their vivacity; smell the musk of bills lining their folds. Curiosity, caprice and youth clouded their judgments; Judith intended to capitalize on it. Like year, and year before, it was time for harvest.

Mid-September, in the final gasps of summer heat, most of the new students had settled in and were looking to fan-out. Bars and nightclubs proved to be their typical haunts. And such was a place Judith found herself, a nightclub.

The dance floor throbbed with neon and repetitive bass. It was filled to cloying with sweat slick college students clad in less than lingerie. Their bodies undulated en mass, lights electrifying the sheen of their skin. A kind of low-budget rave, a scene Judith was much too old for.

From the blue-dark of the booths, she looked on, incongruous and smoking. The cherry of her cigarette flared with each drag, a beacon luring potential customers. She was only there to sell. Entertainment and conversation weren’t part of the job description, though Marta never understood that detail.

“Hey, Judes!” She was crossing the floor, a young woman followed in her wake. “You still selling?” Marta asked, breathless and grinning wide.

“Only if you’re paying.”

“Can’t we at least get a discount?” she whined, gesturing to include her friend. “I’ll make it worth your while later.”

The lewd lick of her lips was unequivocally not enticing. That Marta even thought she could rival a misanthrope’s masturbation was risible. Unphased,Judith crushed her cigarette, giving an ultimatum. “Pay or fuck off.”

Marta’s features fell. “I bet you’d do well in business.” She mused. “Won’t even cut your girlfriend a deal.” A sigh, then, “Still robbing for the usual price?”

“Twelve dollars.”

“What the fuck happened to ten!?”

“Inflation.” Judith quipped with pithy enunciation. “Craig doesn’t just pull this shit out’ve his ass.”

Marta sighed in resignation, mumbling as she rummaged her pockets for money. “Who brings ones to a club anyway?” her rhetorical cavil prompted inquiry. “Do you have a couple dollars?”

The woman adjacent shook her head negatively.

Attention returned to Judith, Marta asked, “Could you break a five?”


“Shit, maybe the bartender can.” She pondered aloud, scanning the back wall for him. It was only in an afterthought that she introduced the two women. “Oh,uh…” Marta verbally stumbled, searching for words. “Judith, Camilla. Camilla, Judith. She and I have biology together on Thursdays.” She explained in brief. “So, uh, just-just hold on sec.” with only a passing word of return, Marta had absconded to the bar.

Her absence fell heavy between them, a palpable disquiet, two strangers measuring each other’s merits, casting judgments and assumptions in the mercurial dark. Camilla was young, perhaps not even of age to drink, child’s play glittering in her eyes. A warm, Hispanic cast to her skin, clay and sunshine in her cheeks, framed by wild, black tresses, she looked far from home in Nebraska. Judith set to lighting another cigarette.

Scintillation, then a flame. Camilla cast her gaze aside timidly. “You come here often?” she asked in jest with a small laugh.

“No.” Judith tossed her lighter on the table, exhaling nebulous, wending smoke.

“More of a go to where the customers are kinda job, eh?”

No response. Disinterested, Judith took another drag.

“How long have you and Marta been dating?” Camilla tried again, emboldened with curiosity.

“Few weeks.” Judith exhaled in a distracted sigh. “Maybe a month.” She couldn’t remember.

“She’s fun, isn’t she?”

“She can be.” Judith agreed conversationally without conviction. She couldn’t give a shit about Marta, the younger’s apartment, a rent free roof to sleep under, was Judith’s only interest.

Camilla quirked a knowing smile. “I once dated someone younger,” she confessed. “It can be a handful.”

“How much younger?”

“Two years.”

“I’m twenty-nine.” Judith deadpanned, expressing the ever widening gap between herself and those she took to sleeping with.

Camilla only simpered, rolling her bottom lip between her teeth in a charmed manner. “That’s cool.” She commented banally. “Wish I was dating someone that mature.”

“Yeah, shaking up with strangers and selling,” Judith clarified pithily. “Real role-model mature I am.”

She laughed coyly. “You know what I mean.”

Judith didn’t, could only guess at the implications, wondering what value age had beyond a superficial image of experience. But graced with distraction,she needed neither to reply nor snub the statement. Marta had returned, bills in hand.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.” She apologized in greeting. “That asshole kept trying to ignore me. Hope it wasn’t too awkward between you two.”

“No, no.” Camilla dismissed. “I was just asking Judith about you.”

“Nothing embarrassing I hope.” Marta smiled nervously, eyes shifting from one woman to the other in question.

Judith took a drag. “Never would I.”

“Yeah right,” Marta scoffed, exchanging cash for two baggies of tabs, yellow smileys winking out at them. “Thanks babe.”

She wasn’t anyone’s babe. “Anytime.”

“It was a pleasure meeting you!” Camilla added in farewell, coquettish trill and youthful sweetness in every word. Judith only grunted in reply, busying herself in counting the bills. It wasn’t until she was certain they’d left for the floor that she dared a second glance. And it was in doing so that she locked eyes with Camilla.

The distance between them was swallowed in that moment, reduced to a proximity bordering intimate. From over her shoulder, Camilla had watched, waited for Judith to look up before she stuck her tongue out in puerile teasing and touched a tab to it. Slow as syrup, she took it into her mouth, lips closing behind with a smile widening to a grin. The crowd closed around her.


Judith stubbed out her cigarette on the table. Youth thought so highly of themselves. Thought they were hot-shit, that their age alone made them sexually desirable. They weren’t and it proved to be a trait Judith exploited time and again, if only to have a bed for the night. Anywhere better than a park bench. The naive weren’t granted mercy, not by stray dogs.

House parties, another breeding ground for misdemeanors and private iniquity, a cesspool of youthful, decadent curiosity. A place where the disingenuous and specious come out to prey. Judith found herself part of such crowds often enough without Marta’s assistance, but this one was her idea. She had extended invitation to Judith in hopes she’d make a few reputable contacts, start a path to a more legal lifestyle. But Judith was only there to deal. That was the only reason she ever took to crowds, to turn a penny.

It was a middle-class residence, two stories with a backyard pool and furnished basement, the kind of place that begged for filching. A gent sat on the steps plucking chords on a guitar despite the autumn chill. Around him people stood smoking in mild conversation, the throb of indoor music pulsing beyond the house confines, framing their clique in juxtaposition. Judith stepped passed them, entering the house.

The punch and rhythm of rap immediately swelled around her. Its sheer decibel intensity drowned out all conversation in the vicinity, forcing her to move deeper in, seeking an ideal location to deal. Taking a confluent path with the crowd, she came to find herself in the dining room. Pong was being played along the table despite a low-hanging chandelier. Too rowdy, but the foot-traffic was propitious. Judith hadn’t lingered more than three minutes in an empty corner before a familiar face approach.


Ever in the wake of bacchanalia, following one good time with another, it was nothing beyond credence that she’d be there. Half-trashed and solo cup in hand, Camilla greeted her enthusiastically. “Judith! Aye! How you like the party?” she asked conversationally. “Marty said you’d be showing up eventually.”

“Money’s money.” Judith replied dismissively.

“All work and no play, business, business, business.” She sighed liltingly before simpering. “C’mon, let’s get a drink.” At once her hand was on Judith’s forearm, pulling gently in attempt to encourage agreement.

Judith jerked her arm free, settling Camilla with a cold stare. “I’ll pass. I only just got here.”

“All the better reason to have a couple!” she insisted in ascending tone. “It’s boring as fuck sober.”

“There are things I have to do.”

“C’mon, pretty please?” Camilla pleaded petulantly, before attempting to reason. “Halloween’s around the corner. There’ll be plenty more parties.”

Judith remained reticent despite the truth in Camilla’s statement. There would be a surfeit of occasions in the next few weeks to deal. The more people celebrated, the greater the profits.

Camilla tried to proselytize her once again. “There’s free alcohol and body-shots in the kitchen.” A statement she emphasized with a waggle of her cup.

“What kind of alcohol we talkin’?” Judith inquired, temptation fostering interest, diligence waning.

“A full case of Patron and more limes than the British navy.”

“Fuck it.” She hardly needed a more cogent reason to get drunk on another’s dollar. “Show me.”

Camilla whooped in genial victory, long locks swaying as she rolled her hips in dance. Her delight was punctuated with a long quaff, the empty cup set aside. “That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!” she agreed, smile so wide it touched her eyes. “Let’s get fucked up.”

When she reached for Judith a second time, it was only a brief tug, a means to galvanize her into following. Her fingers sluiced from Judith’s cuff in the subtle flow of purling water. With a shrug of adjustment to her jacket, Judith fell into the tide of Camilla’s wake.

They weaved like liquid through the environment, Judith echoing each of Camilla’s steps before the crowd could close around them. Her path was cut without discrimination. A cat, Camilla sauntered, both languid and confident, even stealing an unwatched drink from the counter before breaching the palisades of party-goers which encircled the kitchen island. At its center was a cluster of plastic shots, a girl opposite filling them to surfeit with a hiccupping stream of tequila.

Camilla passed the spoils of her theft to Judith, an earlier filled shot, its sides damp from excess.

“Have a drink.” She spoke above the pulse of music. From the center, Camilla slipped herself one freshly poured and a wedge of lime, its raw edge collecting grains of salt as she did. “Wanna do a body shot?”

In response, Judith downed her drink and set the empty vessel aside, the plastic lacking the weighty satisfaction of its glass counterparts. “I can get my own limes.” Judith assured her. “Don’t worry.”

Camilla only grinned, delight pure as a child’s. In similar fashion she finished her own shot, chasing the bitterness with lime’s tart taste. The way her lips pursed around the citrus wedge, Judith diverted her gaze. Tequila was more promising.

Two more shots were taken from the counter, each finding their way down Judith’s throat. They felt heavy in her empty stomach, but the taste was sharp,cleansing, a temporary panacea for all that ailed her. She reached for another. About to throw it back, Judith noticed Camilla’s stare.

“What?” askance in the low tone of a threat.

Camilla was unphased. “C’mon.” she insisted, gesturing for Judith to follow. “You’ve gotta see what they did with the basement.”

She wasn’t interested, would rather have clung to the kitchen, an alcoholic leech feeding and filching what nourishment she could. But Camilla had a charm about her. There was something raw and pure that glittered in her eyes. Puerile as a puppy, she waited in the door way, her carnivorous and playful smile promising pleasure.

Judith knocked back her fourth shot. In resignation and circumspect she followed.

The basement steps descended into a cloying heat of vacillating fluorescents and palpable darkness. Music, loud and electric, gave pulse to the room. With each flash of light, the crowd of profligate youths was photographed in chiaroscuro blue-white and pitch. Judith could feel the onset of a headache before leaving the stairs. Camilla led them toward the crowd verges.

“Dance with me.”

“I don’t dance.”

“You don’t need to.” She clarified, taking a step back. “Just be my focal point.”

It was a task Judith found difficult to repudiate, incapable of looking away. Beneath the strobe of the lights, every flash burned an image of the curve and sway of Camilla’s body. She moved in a rhythm out of sync. In a world of her own, there were only the tides of inebriation to sway her. As though enthralled in a bruja’s spell, the crowd slipped from Judith’s perception, Camilla subjugating her senses in hypnotic motion.

Her balance began to falter, and with slow, heavy steps, Camilla approached to rest her weight against Judith.


Her face upturned in askance, Judith dared to suspect the woman of kissing her. The tension in her back imploring she leave. “Yeah?”

Camilla blinked slow, lips parted. “I’m gonna barf.”

“Ah fu-“

Camilla jerked her head to the side, vomit purging from her in a viscose wave of bile, froth, and booze. It streaked the shin of Judith’s jeans, slapping heavy onto her shoe. The second wave hit the floor, spattering both their legs. Those nearby backed away and began jeering in chant.

“I’m so sorry.” She murmured, spitting free the remnants that coated her mouth.

“Let’s get some air.” Judith suggested dictatorially, leading Camilla to the stairs by a hold under her arm. Play and cavorting was over. Judith had work to do.

Cumbersomely, she managed what felt like a herculean feat. While burdening most of Camilla’s weight, Judith found a path through the crowd, eventually bringing them to the backyard. They rested against the privacy fence, nearly a foot taller than Judith’s conservative height, still bearing its summer coating of paint. The support and presence it offered appeared to give Camilla little comfort. Judith watched as she slowly curled inwards, clutching the nausea that knotted tight inside her.

From one of Judith’s coat pockets, she produced a small pipe, its bowl she filled with a bud of marijuana. The skunky, acidic scent clung to her fingers,wafting to her nose as she took a test of the herb’s quality. Smoke warmed her lungs. She held it, savoring the sensation before exhaling. It would do.

“Here.” She offered it to Camilla. “Take a hit, it usually calms my stomach.”

Her head inclined with interest, quizzicality knitting her brow. “Thanks.” Camilla managed to croak before accepting the pipe. She slid closer to Judith.The lighter snapped irritably before finally catching. Gingerly she breathed the flame into the bowl, and pulled pacifying smoke into her lungs. Camilla coughed, smoke clouding her face like breath on a winter’s morning.

“Do you have any idea where Marta is?” Judith asked, once Camilla settled.


Judith sighed vexedly. She’d have to find the other herself. “Gimme a sec-“

“Don’t!” Camilla gripped her suddenly as Judith made to stand. Then quietly, “Don’t leave me.”

Lips pursed with impatience, Judith pulled her arm free.

“Just, fuck Marty.” Camilla insisted. “Fuck her, you don’t,” she stumbled over her words, momentarily losing thought. “You… You don’t need her.” Camilla finally managed.

“Yeah.” Judith agreed. “But you sure as fuck do.”

“She’s trying to break you.” Camilla explained, idiot babble and drunken thought pouring from her. “Like that Patti Smith song. You know, ‘bout horses?You’re like this wild horse an’ she’s tryin’ to break you.”

“Thanks.” Judith said without sincerity. The song Horses had nothing to do with breaking beasts of burden, she had no idea what Camilla was trying to reference, and was beyond listening to her inebriated garrulity. Judith made to leave only to find Camilla holding fast to her once again.

“Don’t, don’t let her. She doesn’t know shit about living. She’s like everybody else, just wanna earn cash and buy the picket fence. Fuckers don’t know howto live.”

“Right.” Judith lied, focusing on prying Camilla’s vice grip from her coat.

“See.” She implored. “See, you’re doin’ it right. You don’t answer to nobody. You’re free as a bird. That’s the way to live.”

“Yeah. All right” Finally she managed to slip free. “I’m gonna find Marta and she’ll get you home” Judith sighed, “or something.”

“I wanna stay with you.”

“I’ve got shit to do.”

“I know.” Camilla said softly, eyes glossy with shame. “I know I’m drunk, and annoying, and barfed on you but,” she swallowed hard, “please stay. Just call Marty. Don’t leave me.”

Judith wouldn’t look at her, couldn’t stomach being pulled into another’s drama and suffering. She watched the guests across the lawn. Two, young and drunk, jumped into the pool, shrieking in consternation from the cold of it. The halls still remained congested, teaming with people despite the hour.

She sighed, leaning back against the fence. “Fine.” There was no use reentering the house, not when a call was easier.

“Thanks.” Camilla smiled, delicate and fragile. She reclined beside Judith, looking to the sky. “I’m gonna be free too someday. Free from all this shit.”She promised.

The wind gusted, pulling wild at the cumulus clouds, their rolling bodies shifting to blot the heavens. And gradual then sudden, the stars went out.
The cat returned. Though shamed and stultified by her inebriated display, Camilla was not shy, frequenting Marta’s apartment so much as to be mistaken fora third resident. Hardly a day passed that Judith could find respite from her. Ever in Marta’s wake, a shadow whose eyes always lingered too long on Judith, it was obvious Camilla wasn’t visiting for Marta’s company alone.

Upon learning Judith’s preferences, Camilla would bring take-out and alcohol that catered to them. She’d buy cigarettes and carry a lighter though never smoked. Furtive glances, coy smiles, and lewd gestures behind Marta’s back, anything to ameliorate favor. Anything to be close. Even going so far as top ass-out drunk to stay the night, a trick that worked so well against Marta’s sympathies that Judith caught Camilla feigning the state on occasion.

She was at once both vexatious and charming. Always moved to a tune below others’ perception. Always bruised and frequent to accidents she’d laugh in apology for. A petty thief who’d steal from others’ plates at her own expense. Would stand on furniture and lay on floors, incapable of stoicism or a poker-face, a free-spirit who’d bend any rule for a simple pleasure. That was Camilla. So young.

In time, she began turning up while Marta was out, under the pretense of buying or to get away from her boyfriend, Adam. She would drink and talk. So loquacious, never reticent. Judith couldn’t put to words what made Camilla’s presence tolerable. Something raw and undiminished. Perhaps it was naivete, a youth neither jaded nor bound with responsibility.

Whatever the charm be, it was subconsciously taking affect.

An hour past midnight, Marta fast asleep, and Judith was already two drinks under before ringing her sister. At the cluttered kitchen table, beneath sallow light, she waited for Meredith to pick up, the patient burr in her ear like a gallow’s bell among the kitchen-quiet.

The tone sounded nine times before finally answered.

“I told you not to call me at work.”

“Yeah,” Judith greeted in drawl, syllable fading to a death-rattle sigh. “I know.”

Meredith only scoffed at her acknowledgment. “Do you need money or something?”

“I wouldn’t take your money even if I did.”

“Yeah, well, we both know that’s a lie.” And it was, one Judith would only ever confirm in act, not word. “What do you want?”

“Tell mother I said Happy Birthday.” Reply followed by the scratch of metal, Judith lit a cigarette.

“You should tell her yourself.” Meredith bit out before something solemn and somnolent stole the bitterness from her voice. “She worries about you; all the time.” She finally said. “You know she’d pay all your expenses. She doesn’t give a shit what you’ve done. Just come home.”

“You know I won’t”

“Why?” he voice ascended in pitch, the ire seeping back in. “Her emphysema is getting worse. She can hardly walk around without getting winded. Enough of your recalcitrant, misanthropic bullshit! We’re not kids anymore. Just-“ a sharp retraction of her breath, as though the thought had physically struck her.A quivering exhale before, “Please, Just come home.”

Judith could feel her chest tighten, regret and weakness swelling there. A cost met could not be regained. Easier to fall further than to rise. Where the strong would stomach suffering, the weak lash out in reciprocation of it. Judith took a drag, exhaling bitterly. “Taking care of her and working the nightshift must be a real bitch for you to beg me to come back.”

“Fuck you, Jude.” Meredith fell for the jibe, her patience and pride as thin as her sister’s. “Just, fuck you. You don’t know shit. Miriam runs off with some abusive fuck and your selfish ass high-tails it to play cops and robbers, dropping all the responsibilities to me!”

“Doesn’t bein’ the middle child bite like a motherfucker? Spendin’ all your prime years lookin’ after the old bitch who fed and sheltered you since birth,bet it’s just killin’ you.”

“Don’t call me again.” Her tone that of a threat, though empty.

“I sent mom a gift in the mail.” Judith finally told. “Make sure she gets it.”

“Paid for it with drug money, yeah?” Meredith quipped. “You’ll be lucky if I don’t burn it.”

“Love you too.”

The line cut out. Kitchen ambiance, soft, dull as though cotton-muffled, fell thick around her. Its presence felt sepulchral, the pregnant quiet of mausoleums and winter nights. Judith tapped ash from her cigarette. Thrall to her private tortures, a guilt she’d always deny, the hope of sleep proved ephemeral. It was only with the help of soporific libation that Judith believed she’d find rest before Marta woke. She couldn’t stomach the younger’s concern.

Judith stubbed out her cigarette. With defeated hands, she poured another drink.

An hour before noon, Judith had woke only minutes prior. The curtains were still drawn, their edges haloed with white sun seeking entrance. Marta hadn’t opened them before leaving for class, but had made coffee. What remained now sat cold and bitter in the carafe. Judith switched the television on, a proselytizing infomercial to keep the silence at bay while she reheated what Marta left.

Those few hours alone, the brief respite of solitude, was something Judith truly relished. More calming than alcohol, safer than any weapon, but evanescent. Before she could finish her first cup of coffee Camilla suddenly arrived, not even a knock in warning. She leaned against the door as it shut behind her.

“Doesn’t Marta ever lock the fucking door?” Judith greeted in vitriolic question. Camilla didn’t reply in her usual garrulous fashion. Head bowed, she stared off to the side. Judith sipped her coffee before flippantly asking, “Hell happened to you?”

Camilla smiled bitterly, trying to appear strong, fighting down something that sat like a rock in her throat. She inclined her head with a sniffle. “Oh,nothin’ much.” Camilla began with a stark, self-depreciating laugh. “Y’know, just the usual. Adam throwing reality in my face, telling me I’m an idiot for trying to go against it. Always screaming at me, telling me to pull my shit together. You’d think he was my father instead of my boyfriend.” She finished with jest.

“Thought you broke it off.”

“Just took a break, y’know?”

“I don’t.” Judith couldn’t comprehend such dynamics between a couple. “If he treats you like shit y’ either drop ‘im or get even.”

“You’d do both, wouldn’t you?” Camilla asked knowingly.

Judith grinned wickedly around the lip of her mug. “And more.”

There was a moment of quiet contemplation, before Camilla spoke. “I can’t break up with him.” She confessed. “We’ve been together for two years?”

“And where does that leave you?”

A sigh of resignation. “I don’t know, Judith”

“It means you get even.” She clarified. “You can’t have someone disrespect you without repercussions. Makes ‘em think they can get away with it, can do it again.”

“I don’t hate him.” Camilla countered half-heartedly.

Judith shrugged. “If you don’t have the spine to, I’ll do it. Shit, I’ve got nothing better planned for the day.”

“Really?” Camilla’s voice ascended with hopeful interest. At once her coy smile returned, a glitter of mischief in her eye. “What would you do?”

“Break his windows, slash his tires, steal some shit.” She listed nonchalantly before finishing her coffee.

Laughter below her breath. Camilla asked liltingly in jest, “Don’t you do anything remotely legal?”

“Sometimes I borrow things.”

“You wanna borrow something with me?”

Judith set her with an appraising stare, trying to measure the possible iniquity suggested in Camilla’s simper. Judith set her mug aside. “Depends what you’re lookin’ to borrow.”

“Adam’s car.” She stated simply, a playful sway in her stance. “You wanna go for a ride?”

Eyes narrowed with devious intentions, Judith grinned in reply. “Let me grab my coat.”

A brisk November day, the sky yawning wide overhead, pale like that of bleached bone, the color of human intellect, it stung Judith’s eyes. Skin chilled,and veins nicotine-tight, she clutched her coat around herself, covering what its broken zipper left exposed. In consideration of it all, Judith was eager to borrow Adam’s sedan. Camilla appeared in similar spirits.

Nearly five paces ahead and a skip in her step, Camilla frequently glanced over her shoulder to Judith. Her smile ever effulgent, playfully teasing.Whatever Adam had said that snuffed her usual vivacity had since left Camilla’s thoughts. All focus had shifted to what pleasure the near future could bring.

Adam’s place was small, a tiny home his parents were renting out to him and Camilla. No second story, no attic, no basement, and no garage. The car sat idle in a tar and chip driveway, its weight wearing ruts into the material over time. Camilla jogged to the car and tested its driver’s side door. It opened without resistance or lock.

“Get in.” she hissed in a whisper, as though anyone was going to hear. “I’ll get the keys.”

Judith didn’t need further invitation to take shelter from the cold. As she took seat behind the wheel, Camilla sprinted across the lawn and slipped inside, screen-door slamming shut in her wake. Before even having chance to utter any abasement, Camilla was back out keys clutched inside her fist and Adam at her back.

He lingered at the door, barefoot and confused until Camilla wretched the passenger’s side door open. Like a sky rolling with storm, the tension of his face shifted. Then the screaming began.

“You fucking bitch!”

“Drive, drive, drive!” Camilla panicked, tossing the keys helplessly into Judith’s lap as she jerked the door shut behind her.

Adam was across the lawn in strides. The engine rolled over.

“The fuck do you think you’re doing?” His hand was about to pull Judith’s door open when she shifted into reverse and threw the car back with startling acceleration. Adam stumbled onto the grass in safe distance from the tires.

As she pulled onto the road, Judith offered him a single finger in gesture of her victory. His screamed curses and pejoratives fell silent behind them.

“Did you see the look on his face?” Camilla asked, incredulous, before laughing. “Oh my god, how’s he gonna get to work?”

“He can call in sick.” Judith offered dismissively, turning onto the main road.

It was then Camilla’s phone rang, its pop and synth ringtone feeling ominous in the quiet that followed Adam’s vociferous cavil.

Camilla checked the ID. “It’s him.” She said meekly.

“Take out the battery.”

“He’s going to be so pissed.” She continued, the worry of a child caught in the act began to dampen her enthusiasm.

“I’m willing to bet he already is.” Judith assured. “So let’s make the most of the day, give him time to cool down.” She suggested, catching Camilla’s eye with a devious grin.

She reciprocated it, pulling the battery from her phone. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Hours passed in confluence with the hashed lines dividing rural Nebraskan roads, the city long since lost in the distance, swallowed by rolling topography and sky. They made only one stop during their rendezvous, a gas station at the intersection of county route and back road. On Camilla’s dollar they purchased packaged sweets, bonbons, and salty snacks with a single six pack for toast.

For a while Camilla sang softly with the radio, but gradually her voice faded, thoughts turning inward as she watched the sky darken, the landscape’s depths growing thick with mercurial shadows that retreated under their headlights. Both knew an altercation with Adam was inexorable, but the topic remained tacit. Those hours of freedom were better savored than spent in discussion of the inevitable.

As midnight came to pass, Judith pulled into a warehouse parking-lot and killed the engine. In the absence of its noise, the radio felt oppressively loud.Judith reached to turn it down while Camilla handed her a beer.


Camilla only smiled in acknowledgement before reclining with her own in hand. They shared a moment of quiet together, watching as insects gathered ‘round the lot lights. It wasn’t until Camilla finished her first beer that she spoke.

“Y’know, when I first started dating Adam, he wasn’t so uptight, didn’t care so much about money.”

“Ain’t much you can do without money.” Judith shrugged.

“You’ve got an awesome life without ever having a job.”

Judith set her with a hard, incredulous stare. “First, there’s a difference between a job and money.” Judith began, “And second, my life is shit. There is no security in my life. If I need something I have to risk my ass to get it. If I get sick or fucked up I can’t go to the hospital. I have nothing.” She finished emphatically. There was no glamour in indigence.

“But, because of that you’re free.” Camilla stated in askance. “Isn’t that why you live as you do?”

“You think this is a choice?”

The mere suggestion of penury beyond one’s volition left her stumbling for words. “I- I just,” Camilla sank deeper into her seat, confessing with timid embarrassment, “I just thought you wanted to be free like I do.”

“There are a lot of reasons I live like shit.” Judith amended with a shrug. “Some of them ain’t so nice. But yeah, I like not dependin’ on no one, not owing anyone shit. Take orders from nobody. That’s a benefit I’d sooner keep than trade for a mortgage.”

Camilla’s spirit returned with a smile. She twisted the cap free from her second beer, changing topic as she did. “Do you love Marta?”

Judith scoffed, air whistling across the lip of her drink. “No.”

“She thinks you do.” Camilla said simply before enlightening. “She thinks you’re head-over-heels for her but can’t express it, too reserved.”

Such a thought evoked only apathy in Judith. “She’s a kid.” She explained nonchalantly. “Likes to think she can change shit, including people.”

“Don’t you want to fall in love?”

Judith was unable to stifle a staccato, bark of a laugh the sudden question brought. “Please,” Judith begged wryly, “My lifestyle doesn’t entail lasting relationships.”

“Even if you were to find someone who lived like you?” Camilla pressed.

“You mean a fucking bum?”

“I mean a partner in crime.” The simper and coy lilt in her tone, Judith knew immediately what Camilla was suggesting.

“No.” she shot her down succinctly. “Nuh-uh, not in a million fucking years. You ain’t cut out for it.”

“But I can be,” Camilla insisted, eyes imploring. “I can learn.”


“Please, I can’t keep living like this.”

“Like what?” Judith scoffed. “Safe, sheltered, fed?”

“Please!” she repeated, leaning closer, bracing her weight against the median armrest. ”I’d rather die than spend monotonous day after day a slave to a job I hate.”

Judith only stared, searching Camilla’s face for a more cogent reason. She set her beer down. “Prove it.”

Camilla looked aside in thought, her brow knit with mounting frustration. She shook her head, nothing. And in that defeated moment caught an idea. Wadded in the shallow recess of her jeans pocket, Camilla pulled free a twenty dollar bill and the lighter she’d never once used. With it, she set fire to the greenback.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” Judith demanded in vociferous shock. Smoke, acrid and black as murder, wended in ropes between the front seats. As the flames licked lower, Camilla rolled down the window and dropped it to the bitumen.

“I won’t be controlled by money or any paper.” She explained, a scintillation of defiance in her eye. “I’ll sacrifice. I’ll through away until I have nothing, until I’m free.”

“You realize you’re fucking insane, right?” Judith questioned after such profligate display.

Camilla bit her lip in a grin. “I like to think of it as a passion.”

Judith was still incredulous. “You’re fucking serious?” she asked, “You realize the shit I do could get you killed if not imprisoned?”

“Yeah.” Camilla acknowledged succinctly, “But we all die one day or another. I just want to go knowing I’m free.” She paused, looking off into the lot before back at Judith. “Y’ know?”

In her own recalcitrant, iconoclastic way, Judith did. She knew intimately the desire to break away, to be truly independent and self-sufficient. Her eyes met Camilla’s. “That’s all you want in life?”

Camilla hummed in affirmation.

“Fucking Christ.” Judith exhaled, looking off into the lot as she reached for her drink.

“Please,” Camilla begged once again. “Promise me when you leave you’ll take me with you. I won’t be a burden, honest.”

Bottle raised to her lips, Judith tried to stare the younger down, intimidate or shame her into withdrawing the supplication. Camilla only waited, eyes pleading, but determined. Judith sighed in resignation. “Yeah sure. What the hell.” She finally agreed.

Delight, like purling water and the tinkle of bells, such pure joy bubbled from Camilla in excess. A eupathy beyond Judith’s understanding gave smile to Camilla’s face, creasing her eyes and lighting her voice with laughter.

“You’re lucky you’re cute.” Judith warned in jest, taking drink from her beer before tossing the empty bottle into the lot.

“Thank you, Judith”

She made to dismiss the sentiment, words of indifference on the tip of her tongue before suddenly Camilla had pushed herself over the console and set a kiss on Judith’s cheek. Dry and delicate as the touch of a dragonfly’s wings. Such contact sent an electric surge of warning through her.

“You shouldn’t-“ her caveat remained unfinished.

Audacity, brazen youth staking claim, taking without inquiry, Camilla pressed forward. In a kiss rougher and more willful than her nature ever intimated,she sealed Judith’s words. Out of habit, the gesture was reciprocated, though gauche and brief it was in Judith’s disbelief.

As their lips came to part, Camilla didn’t pull away. Her smile twisted with prurience. “Don’t tell me what to do.” A playful threat that Judith took with predatory grin, she liked a challenge.
After that night, a clandestine relationship began between them, fostered in their empty hours over the next month and a half. Camilla would cut her morning classes to lay beside Judith in the comfort of Marta’s bed. They’d meet in antiquated and unprofitable shops, avoiding curious eyes. Hours were spent in each other’s company, desperate kisses, surreptitious glances, fleeting embraces. Every encounter falling just short of satisfaction. A longing for time and a chance to sleep the night at each other’s side would eventually unravel their web of deceptions.

A week before Christmas, the world blanketed by a canvas of untouched snow. Winter was soon to show its claws, but rest quiet that day, crisp and bright.Judith sat on the couch, a space cleared on the coffee table where she segregated her earnings into piles for herself and Craig, her supplier. The television droned on in the background, news anchor prognosticating a flux in gasoline prices. If only they’d predicted the storm about to commence.

The quiet click of the front door lock took Judith’s attention. Half expecting Camilla, she was indifferent to note Marta’s early return from one errand or another. They exchanged no greetings. In uneasy reticence, Marta took seat in the living room, her mouth set with indecision. Judith paid her no mind.

Tension thickened with each passing minute in which neither spoke. Resigned that Judith wouldn’t take initiative, Marta began to prod. “So, um, can we just…” her words trailed into a sigh. “Can we talk about something?”

Disinterested, Judith didn’t look up from the coffee table. “What’s there to talk about?”

“Isn’t there something you want to tell me?” she pressed, patronizing as a parent confronting their child.

Such tone only provoked Judith’s recalcitrance. “I’m not a fucking mind-reader Marty. So just fucking say it.” She spat. “Is it your birthday or something?How’m I supposed to know that shit?”

“How about that you’ve been fucking Camilla behind my back!” Marta snapped, her patience thinned and severed. “Under my own fucking roof even! When were you gonna tell me about that, huh?”

“What difference does it make?”

“W-… what?” the question left her nonplussed, struggling to grasp Judith’s divergent train of thought. “That you’re sleeping with Camilla?”

“No, who you hear it from.” Judith clarified. “Wouldn’t make a fuck of a difference hearing it from me.”

“Of course it fucking would!” Camilla countered in sheer incredulity. “Do you know how humiliating it is to be the last to know, to hear from Adam that your girlfriend and best friend are sleeping with each other?”

It was inevitable, all secrets saw discovery no matter how specious or convoluted the lies that shroud them were. It was all a matter of time. The only shame Judith felt upon confrontation was that she hadn’t planned where to live next. She cleared away what she had on the table. “How’s Adam taking it?”she asked conversationally.

Disbelief momentarily stole Marta’s words. She blinked dumbly, trying to hold back the hurt she felt. “You don’t even give a shit about me.” She managed,“Do you?”

Judith spared her no sympathy. “No,” she said honestly. “And I don’t know how you got it in your head that I ever did.”

“How can you say that after everything-“

“I needed a roof over my head,” Judith stated, eyes cold and tone raised in assertion. “You were willing to supply. There has never been anything between us ever.”

“This is just some fucking charade to you.” Marta balked, eyes glossing with tears, lips quavering, the lines of her features etched in a language of hurt. “I’m just another girl in another city to you.”

“Bra-fucking-vo.” Judith jeered coldly. “I’m glad you’ve finally come to understand.”

Television dialogue and commercial jingles filled the silence that came between them, realization settling heavy. Marta swallowed hard, like she understood, and wiped a tear from her eye. “Get out.” Those two feeble words uttered in barely a whisper.

“Forever or the day?”

“Just get out.”

And Judith didn’t insist otherwise, wouldn’t beg to be expiated just to stay another night. She went to gather what few belongings she kept. “I’ll be out of the city soon. Don’t come looking.”

An itinerant lifestyle rarely fostered anything close to friendship in Judith’s life. Contacts were fleeting and often unreliable. Without the money to leave or rent, she was left with little choice except to turn to her supplier, Craig. He was a fat bastard living off unemployment with his nephew, a registered sex offender that never left the house, perpetually holed up in a room playing League of Legends. Having never cheated Craig out of money, he obliged her stay.

With nothing more to offer her than a sweat-smelling, dog bed of a couch, Judith took to spending her wakeful hours anywhere else. It was two days after discovery of their affair, that Judith found time to meet with Camilla and relay her situation.

“So he’s a pedophile?” Camilla asked in reference to Craig’s nephew.

“I don’t know what the fuck Kenny is.” Judith dismissed irritably. “I’ve never even talked with him, he just stays in his room all day.”

“Creepy.” Camilla commented, absently stirring the tepid contents of her coffee.

“Look no one gives a fuck about Kenny, or where I’m staying.” Judith forcefully segued. “The real question is why the fuck are you still staying with Adam?”

“Because I’ve nowhere else to go!” Camilla confessed in exasperation.

“Isn’t he pissed off? Why hasn’t he kicked you out?” her question intimating that he should have.

Camilla only shrugged. “Adam doesn’t give a shit.” She put simply. “He thinks it’s a joke, only cares if I sleep with other guys. Some male logic that is.Total bullshit.”

“Whatever.” Dissatisfied, Judith ignored the reasoning all together. “I’ll be leaving soon anyways.”

“What? You mean leaving town?” Camilla clarified in askance, incredulity quickening her words. “It’s almost January, there’s fucking feet of snow on the ground and you’re going out on the street?”

“After what happened with Marta, yeah, I need to. Better the streets than prison.” The suggestion of such fostered a solemn quiet between them. Marta wasn’t the vindictive type, and if Camilla’s words were true, then Adam hadn’t the enmity to contact authorities in spite. But Judith had out-stayed her welcome. There was no need to linger where malevolence could culture.

Camilla set her spoon aside, asking softly, “When?”


“When are you leaving?”

“Probably near the end of January.” Judith estimated. “I need to gather some cash, stockpile some shit to sell…” the quiet lingered, and Judith met Camilla’s eyes. “You still wanna come along?”

“Yeah.” Her voice almost doleful in its soft affirmation.

“You should probably start doing the same.” Judith suggested. “Never know how long it’ll take to make connections once there.”

“One month.” Camilla echoed absently.

“Yeah, pack light.” Judith pushed her own cup aside and rose. “I’ll call you later, when I’m free.” She said in parting.

Camilla nodded, understanding. “Be careful.”

The weeks were quick to pass, the preparation and sequestering of provisions kept Judith from her usual dalliances. She and Camilla met only but a handful of times within that month. Such stress and haste left little time for romance, and its effects were palpable. Distance grew between them. Wonderings and well-wishes went unanswered, potential meetings declined in favor of profitable pursuits. Judith surmised it was nerves on Camilla’s part and enervation on hers. Never would Camilla shy away or keep distant without reason. Their passion, chilled on the back-burner, could be rekindled once on the road. Or so Judith planned.

January 23, a date like a countdown, one, two, three. It was then that Judith found propitious to leave. Little more than a backpack of clothes, money, and pilfered drugs to weather the sojourn, but it would do. Restless, circumspection peaked to paranoia, she couldn’t wait any longer. Through the January snow, Judith walked to Adam’s house.

The driveway was empty. Adam had likely gone to work. With cold-stiff fingers, Judith knocked. There was no reply. She placed fault on the wind filling her ears. Judith knocked again, and was once more left in the cold, no reply. Had Camilla not received her earlier text? There wasn’t time to waste, the next bus would be arriving soon. Judith tried the door knob to no avail.


An effort to call was met with similar results. Faced with such an impasse, Judith did what she felt necessary, she broke in.

Ambling through snowdrifts, knee-high at their deepest, Judith carved a path to the adjacent most window and shoved up its screen. Had the glass not budged when tested, she was not above breaking it. Between being cold and ignored, Judith was in no state to be tested.

After what felt like a heroic measure of strength, she managed to lever herself up to the sill and pull herself inside, a confetti of snow in her wake.

The house was eerie-still, sepulchral in its quiet. Across the plush carpet, Judith stepped lightly, afraid to disturb the unsettling peace. The foreign smell of another’s home, of unknown laundry detergent, soaps, stale food, and human musk subtly filled her senses. It was unwelcoming. Judith began checking the rooms, set on vandalism until a sharp intake of breath caught her attention. It was a sniffle, another sucking free the rheum of their running nose. Judith followed the sound.

And in a bedroom, disheveled with stray clothes and pocketable chattel was Camilla. She sat hunched on the edge of her and Adam’s bed, only a curtain of hair to grant privacy in her moment of chagrin.

“What’s got you cryin’?” Judith asked flippantly. “We’ve got to go.” She reached to pull Camilla to her feet, but was rejected.

Recoiling, ebbing from Judith’s touch, Camilla shook her head negatively. In the dull light of Adam’s shade-less bedside lamp, Judith saw the wet-glitter of Camilla’s upper lip, the sheen of tears brushed from her cheeks. She was breaking down. Her body shuddering as something unsaid tore her asunder.

“Did Adam do this?” tone flat, incapable of sympathy’s softness.

Camilla shook her head, denying as much. “No. Please, please just go.” She begged in a voice below whisper. “You’ll miss the bus.”

“We can take another.” Judith countered quickly. “Just tell me what’s going on, what’s gotten into you?”

And all the tears she was fighting back began to fall. Her face contorted with agony, eyes pinched shut to prevent further purging. Through the pain lodged in her throat, Camilla sobbed. “I can’t go.” She sniffed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “I can’t, Jude. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you earlier,I just couldn’t”

“Why?” Judith implored, emphasizing her perplex with a gesture of her arms. “What fucking happened?”

“Adam was right.” Camilla explained softly. “When he said I was ruining my life, throwing it away for the thrill of it. I’m a fuck-up.” She confessed with a croak. “I don’t know shit about living. How the fuck am I supposed to support myself? I can’t even graduate now, my grades are so fucked.”

“What are you talking about? You’re going to be living like me, remember? Free. You don’t need any of that shit.”

“I can’t.” Camilla’s voice shook, trembled in understanding. “I can’t do it.”

“Because Adam talked shit to you?”

“Because I’m pregnant.”

Like a gunshot, the statement struck Judith physically, leaving in its wake a silence like static, the ambiance of an oscillating fan. She forgot how to breathe in that subsequent moment. Ephemeral catatonia, time slow like waiting in fear, like seconds before trauma. Disbelief. “What?”

“I’m pregnant.” Camilla repeated. “I just found out three days ago, I-“

“How the fuck are you pregnant?” Judith cut in acerbically.

“I don’t know.” Camilla rushed to explain. “Maybe Adam’s condom broke or it was old or- fuck. He’s always careful when we-“

“You’re still fucking Adam!” Judith’s body went cold, sick with ire. Her fists clenched, aching for physical relief. “After all the shit he gives you.”Judith hiss incredulously. “And what about us? I’m just your bitch on the side, eh?”


“All that fucking flirting, wanted a taste of what it’s like to live on the edge of fucking society. Fuck me, yeah? ‘Cause that’s all you wanted to do.Could never be with me because I can’t offer you the money, the house, the security!”

“No. No, Judith.” Tears welling in her eyes, tracing the contours of her face, Camilla struggled for words. “It was never like that.” She pleaded, “I loved you, I still love you.”

“Yeah,” Judith spat in pithy agreement, “just like you love Adam.”

“That’s not the case.”

“Then what is?” Judith snapped. “Go on, tell me.”

Verbally cornered, Camilla keened, hands knotting in her hair as she tried to explain. “I… I can’t. I can’t live on the street pregnant.”

“Get a fucking abortion!”

“I’m not going to kill my child!”

Camilla’s voice, suddenly firm in its resolve took Judith aback. Such defiance was met with derision. “What?” Judith asked mockingly, “Did I just fucking hear you right? Suddenly you want to be some suburban soccer mom, pushin’ kids out while Adam slaves away. What happened to living free?”

“You’re not free.” Her words quiet, but resolute.

“What?” Judith dared her to say it again, jaw tight with indignation.

And Camilla did, finding courage in knowing her reasons why. “You’re not free Judith. I finally realized that. You’re homeless. You struggle everyday just to eat. You’re barely surviving, not living. All you are is a leech in society instead of a cog.”

Impulsive, a visceral reaction that executed without cognition. It was only upon contact that Judith realized she’d swung, her knuckles cracking against Camilla’s cheek, the force jarring the bones of her hand, sending pain, liquid electricity, surging along her ulna. The suddenness of the act left Judith nonplussed, inert as a maelstrom of ire, denial, and shame seeped like heat from her core, trickling through the tributaries of her bloodstream.

Camilla had recoiled against the headboard, clutching her injury, checking for blood. “You hit me,” she breathed in disbelief, her eyes wide and pained.“You-“

She couldn’t stomach hearing anymore. Galvanized by the feeling coursing through her, Judith struck Camilla again. The sound of it, of a heavy blow striking something dense, something firm but padded, it was electrifying. She didn’t relent. Again she punched downward, Camilla’s clawing hands and shrieking unable to stop her.

Like a record skipping, she could hear Camilla plead between hits. “You’re hurting me! Please, stop!”

But she wouldn’t, not until Camilla did, not until she’d finally shut her fucking mouth. By a fistful of hair, Judith tore her from the bed, Camilla’s floundering arms searching for purchase, weaponry, anything in her plight. The nightstand was knocked over, the lamp falling innocuously to the side, out of reach.

“Please!” she sobbed, folding into herself, trying desperately to hide from Judith’s assault. Hopeless against the inexorable. Like prying the legs of an insect apart, Judith forced herself between Camilla’s defenses. Knuckles split, blood slicking between her fingers, but still Judith continued, laying blow after blow against Camilla’s face until it began to swell and break beyond recognition. Half-conscious, Camilla capitulated, ceasing both struggle and resistance.

Still, Judith was yet to be satisfied. In raw ire, she set her hands about Camilla’s neck and began to squeeze. Judith could feel the structures beneath Camilla’s skin shifting, fighting impulsively for breath. With a force born from adrenaline and numbing rancor, Judith cinched her grip tighter, leaning in with her weight against Camilla’s throat. Something rent beneath it, a subtle crackling noise, and like a sigh Camilla faded.

The stars in her eyes glittered, effulgent as scintillation, and then…

They went out.

A sepulchral quiet settled in the wake of her parting, only broken by Judith’s harsh breaths. As her blood slowed cold and she freed her stiffened fingers from their hold, Judith could think nothing beyond that one simple fact. Camilla was dead. The foolish dream of curing loneliness laid to rest beside her.That Judith could ever have believed in it, she clenched her jaw tight, the wave of shame and hurt twisted like brier inside her.

It was Camilla’s fault, Judith told herself, repeated it like a mantra in her head. If only Camilla hadn’t tempted her, hadn’t appealed to her predilections, hadn’t sworn on empty promises, hadn’t gotten fucking pregnant. It was all her fault, and in the end, Judith supposed Camilla had received what she desired most. She died free.

In a single act of guilt, Judith haphazardly pulled the comforter from the bed and covered the majority of Camilla’s remains. She couldn’t look at her anymore, couldn’t bear the weight of everything that ended in that moment. The world may as well have fallen to pieces. Judith knew her own, small microcosm of it had.

Without taking memento or trophy, she left. The memory, fleeting yet vivid, would be enough. The bus had long since gone. Judith fought not to think of it,fought not to think of anything at all. She wanted to be numb, indifferent, … asleep. Alcohol would be her panacea, a balm to sooth the emotions like glass, fractured in the knots of her chest. Alcohol to carry her through her darkest hours.

Judith spent that night at the police station, locked in the drunk tank for causing a scene at one nameless bar or another. She couldn’t remember what she’d done to end up there, couldn’t remember a thing except Camilla’s vivacious smile and what had taken it. When her backpack was searched they found the drugs she’d intended to sell in the next city over. Charged and arrested, it wasn’t until later that a print found in Adam’s house would be matched to hers through AFIS.

But none of it mattered, incapable of pulling Judith from her melancholy, because in the wake of so much loss, why not lose all?

A guilty plea felt just. Not for closure, or out of regret. No, Judith didn’t regret her actions, believed them fair. Camilla had torn Judith’s life asunder in a single moment, to take hers in return only prevented disparity. A guilty plea was simply the path of least resistance. With evidence mounting against her, a chance to remove the death penalty from the table, and avoid trial where prosecutors would play to the jury’s sympathy; the answer was unequivocal, her plea not an admission of guilt, but declaration.

If wronged, she got even. The unconscionable was not beyond her, and the law would not deter her. She was free.

Judith’s last call to Meredith wasn’t to her mobile. It was across formic counter, divided by glass and law. Plastic receiver pressed to her ear, its spiral cord snaking down her wrist, Judith waited. Meredith said nothing, only looked back as though appraising an object in a museum or menagerie. It was vexing. Judith reclined, the chair’s metal joints voicing protest as she feigned indifference.

“You come here thinkin’ to stare me down or you gonna chew my ass out with more “I told you so” bullshit?” she asked petulantly, prompting Meredith from her reticence.

“You’ve never thought of anyone but yourself,” her tone the soft solemnity of disgrace, “Have you?”

“Is that what you want to talk about? You think I got here for watching my back?” Judith quipped.

“Well you certainly weren’t looking out for that girl-“

“You don’t know shit about her.” Judith cut in acerbically, incensing Meredith.

“I know that you murdered her!” she countered, nose crinkling in scowl. “I know that you didn’t even think of pleading innocent, wouldn’t even try showing a glimmer of remorse for a lesser sentence, wouldn’t even give mother the hope of seeing you again.”

“You’re here because of mother,” Judith smiled solemnly. “Aren’t you?”

“She’s on hospice.” Meredith revealed, her eyes wandering as she struggled to enlighten her sister. “She wanted to come, to be here for you, but couldn’t. She’s almost completely bed-ridden.”

“She’s probably better off dead.”

“Of course,” she spat bitterly, “Pretend like you don’t give a shit, like she’s nothing to you.”

“Like you aren’t tilling her grave, just waiting for her to keel over so you can have a life of your own.” Judith scoffed.

“I’ve been taking care of her for years!” Meredith countered in defense, voice ascending with ire, crackling over the line. “Meanwhile, you’re off earning a record and killing college co-eds! Won’t even fucking visit her.”

“Bet you wish you could have done the same.” Judith smiled derisively. “Fat, ugly Meredith couldn’t run off with a man like Miriam, too spineless to walkout like Judith, left to pray to the reaper while slaving for ailing old mama and the hospital.”

“You’re exactly where you belong.” Meredith said, her tone low, bellying years of animosity. “Locked away in a prison with other animal scum just like you.I hope you fucking die in here you fucking cunt.”

“Wouldn’t hope to hard if I were you.” Judith admonished, her words heavy with portent in which Meredith found jest.

“Well,” she began sardonically, “if you do manage to get out, since you’re such a model prisoner, try to make it to mother’s funeral. She’d like to see you again, in person, not on television. But even if she wasn’t ill, I doubt you’d be so kind.”

“Tell her not to worry.”

Meredith scoffed. “About dying?”

“About me.” Judith corrected.

“Trust me, Judith. No one cares about you.”

“Right, why would you be here otherwise?”

Meredith’s features fell. “Enjoy your stay.” She expressed in sarcastic farewell, about to hang up the receiver.

“Even when she dies,” Judith warned, voice rose to be heard through the glass. “You’re never gonna be free Meredith.”

She set her sister with one final, hard stare, the subtle curve of an ironic smile to her lips. “Like you’d know anything about that.”

Without gesture or a word further in parting, Meredith hung up the phone and walked away. That was the last they’d speak. Their lives, once confluent as children, now parted for better or worse. And Judith could see only the good of it in that moment.

She’d bide her time, mend her broken mettle, regain her shaken equanimity. Because Camilla had given her something in murder; freedom. Judith only had her life, there was nothing else left to lose.

When I began working on Judith's history, I had only one goal in mind, and that was to maintain Judith's deplorable, incorrigible character. This meant that I couldn't have her murder be out of mercy, the death couldn't be to end another's suffering be it psychological or physical. The result ended up being a short story about coming into adulthood and questioning what it means to be free. A lot of the fluff and romance of Camilla and Judith's relationship was left out, ultimately deemed filler, keeping the raw skeleton of their bond exposed. Their love was never truly for each other, but for the hope, ideals, and expectations they saw therein.

Hope it wasn't too much of a drag. Thanks for reading. :)
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