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The Walking Dead

     Blood runs down her face, running into her eyes and spraying from her lips when she whimpers, 
staining the plush beige carpet. Jill hits her again, with her fists this time, the impact making a loud smack. “Oh God, Stop, stop, stop,” she says. The woman guards her forehead with a trembling hand. “No, Mama, I won’t stop. You didn’t, wouldn’t stop it for me. It’s my turn,” says Jill. The chains on her feet are short, so she takes small steps. There is an armed guard on either side of her, each holding one of her arms. A third walks behind them. She wears a version of the same bright orange jumpsuit that she’s had since they brought her here three years ago. “Hey, aren’t you guys supposed to be shouting ‘Dead Man Walking?’” she asks. The guards
continue to stare ahead as they all make their way down the narrow hall. Jill picks up the heavy lead pipe by the straight end. “No, please stop,” says her mother. “Quit saying that!” Jill shrieks, stomping over to her mother on the floor. “Why are you doing this?” asks her mother. “You heard it. You heard it every night and you wouldn’t stop it. You just laid there in bed and pretended it wasn’t happening,” says Jill “Sweety, please, you have to understand” says her mother. “I don’t have to understand jack shit. You are a coward, that’s all I need to know. You wouldn’t stand up for me. So fuck you, mom.” “Jill, no, let’s talk about this.” Jill raises the lead pipe. “Jill, honey, I love you.” Jill pauses. She reaches down with her free hand to touch her mother’s forehead. “Oh, Mom,” she whispers, shaking her head. Jill slams down the lead pipe, bashing it against her mother’s skull. Her mother mumbles. “…won’t change anything. Can’t go back. I would if I could,” says her mother. Jill brings down the pipe again. This time there is no more noise from the mother. Her chest spasms, stops. Jill stops and listens to the sound of her own breath, loud in the now silent room. “Last meal?” asks the guard. He is crouching down so that he is eye level with her as she sits on her bunk, hands in her lap. “Does it really matter?” says Jill, picking at her fingernails. “It does to some,” he replies. “I guess baked chicken, dark meat. Maybe some fried okra. And a brownie.” “Fine. Do you wish to have any clergy present?” “No, I’m not very religious,” she replies. He nods as he stands up to leave. Jill spots a family photograph on the mantle above the brick fireplace, her mother and father smiling at the camera. She picks up the photograph, smashes the frame on the floor and the glass shatters. She picks up the picture from the glass shards. Pulling a lighter from her pocket, she sets the photograph on fire. She watches it burn for a moment, the faces swelling and bubbling, then throws it on her mother’s body. It rests there for a moment, then catches her mother’s shirt on fire. She watches as the fire spreads from her mother’s shirt and onto the carpet. She tosses the pipe next to her mother and glides out the back door.