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  • Writer's pictureCathryn Grant

Novel Excerpt: The Good Neighbor

Updated: Nov 11, 2019


There was so much blood. It wasn’t at all what I’d expected.

I thought it would flow smoothly, not emerge with thick clumps, stopping suddenly. Then, just when I thought it was finished, starting to ooze again.

I cleaned it up as best I could.

But when I looked at my hands, my fingers had absorbed it. Red lines snaked along my cuticles, and blood was lodged beneath my fingernails. I scrubbed my hands, watching the water and liquid soap run red and pink down the drain. Faint stains clung to the porcelain. It required rinsing with several jars of water before it gleamed white again.

Once everything was cleaned up, my fingers began to tremble uncontrollably.

To calm them, I opened the bottom drawer in the vanity. Behind the bottles of bubble bath and the fancy body scrubs, I felt for the empty tissue box I kept there. Inside was a chocolate brown notebook and a pen.

I placed the notebook on my leg and, with sloppy writing, recorded my thoughts about what had happened. I wasn’t sure why I kept this tiny journal. Sometimes I wondered whether I was writing to my future self.

No one knew about my small, almost insignificant journal. I’m a secretive person, but I’ve had to be.

I started to think about whether it was possible to keep her from finding out what had happened. She would be livid. I’d seen her fury before.

I had no doubt she would say it was my fault. She would accuse me of going out of my way to hurt her. She would blame me, as if I could have done anything to stop it. Nothing I could say would convince her I hadn’t been able to help it. I did try. I really did.

The way she behaved lately, the things she said…it was almost as if she was insane. A diagnosable disease ate at her brain, the tissue-thin, connective net of sanity decaying every day. It was the lock her in a room with padded walls and bars on the windows with the bed bolted to the floor variety of insane, not just your typical oh she’s nuts kind of insanity.

Of course, she didn’t look insane. It wasn’t something that could be seen from the outside. She didn’t have the stereotypical appearance of a madwoman with filthy hair, ragged, grimy fingernails, and a wild look in her eyes. She was perfectly pleasant and normal, on the surface.

But she was insane. And I knew she would prove it when she saw all that blood, the rest of the blood I hadn’t been able to clean up.

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