Savage

by HLR

Content warning: murder/violent death, grief, mental illness, suicidal ideation

The night before you were killed, I was drinking
at the pub where you were tending the bar. After the fact,
I thought yes, I remember you, thought I vaguely
acknowledged you (pretty, petite, brunette, tattoos,
just like me—we even have similar Greek names)
maybe even got served jagerbombs by you. But now
I know that that’s likely untrue, I probably didn’t
even notice you: the conjuring of specificity, of
significance, is just what memory tends to do
in the wake of tragedy. No, I probably didn’t look. Now,
2 years later, I’m standing at the spot where your life was
so savagely stolen from you, and all of your displaced
hope and cancelled dreams just shot right through me.
Your killer was “treated” by the same mental health team
as me: him and I, we drank from the same water cooler,
crossed paths in sticky lino’d corridors, were handed
the same pamphlet on what to do in a crisis. (Now look at us.
Me: sectioned, him: imprisoned, you: murdered). Frantically
I find myself searching for signs of loss, for evidence of cruelty
at the local beauty spot—old blood in the grass, the sound
of your last gasp, path carved with drag marks—but I know
I won’t find anything. And sadly, to so many, you’re just another
Pretty Little Lady murdered in a Big Bad City, forgotten
to most now you’re long dead and buried. And your story
should make me worry for my safety but it doesn’t because
I wish he’d taken me instead of you: me, a young woman
who is not fit for living, no smiles reaching my eyes
the way that they lit up yours in the photos of your face
that were printed, blurred, on damp newspaper pages
and really, I just want you to know
that I am so fucking sorry.