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Andrew J. Hogan
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free.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2017

FREE

 

by Andrew J. Hogan

 

 

“Run,” she said. My sister’s eyes pleaded with me.

 

“Why?” I said.

 

“Because I am going to kill you.” The pupils of her eyes started to widen and darken. “Run!”

 

I started to run. I don’t know why I believed her. It didn’t make any sense that she would want to kill me. But there was something in her, I guess, that did. After about fifty feet, I looked back. She had gotten to her feet. She picked up a large, jagged rock. She glared at me and started running in my direction.

 

I ran up the trail, back to the parking area where our mother was waiting for us. I ran as fast as I could, but I wasn’t fast enough. Something was wrong; my sister could never run as fast as I could, but she caught me and cracked my skull with the rock.

 

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

 

          It’s been twenty years, and today my sister brought her two daughters to the same spot where she killed me. My sister led my two nieces down by the creek and then walked back to the picnic area at the top of the hill near the parking area where I have stayed, ever since she killed me. I think only one of my nieces is going home today.

 

          “I don’t understand why you killed me,” I told my sister. 

 

          “I don’t know myself. I only know that I had to do it,” she said.

 

          “It doesn’t make sense,” I said.

 

          “Only one of us can live.”

 

          “But why?”

 

          “That’s the way it is.”

 

          “Don’t you feel guilty?”

 

          “No,” she said.

 

          “You killed your own sister.”

 

          “I told you to run. You could have gotten away.”

 

          “I don’t understand. Why should I need to get away?” I said.

 

          “You didn’t need to understand. You only needed to die.”

 

          “It must be wrong. I’m here haunting you,” I said.

 

          “Not for long.”

 

          “What do you mean?”

 

          “Look,” she said.

 

          My nieces ran up the hill toward the parking lot, where my sister and I were talking. Julia chased Vicki with a large, jagged rock, like the one my sister used to kill me.

 

          “Why are you letting her do this?” I said.

 

          “To get rid of you.”

 

          “What do you mean?”

 

          I heard the crack of the rock on Vicki’s skull; I could still feel it, even though I’d been dead for twenty years.

 

My sister was right. Julia came up the hill, followed at a distance by Vicki’s ghost. My sister led Julia to the car and drove her away. As they left and Vicki came closer, I faded away. My sister was free, and I am gone.

 

“Free” originally appeared in February 2012 Issue of Twisted Dreams Magazine.

 

 

 

Andrew Hogan received his doctorate in development studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before retirement, he was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, where he taught medical ethics, health policy and the social organization of medicine in the College of Human Medicine.

 

Dr. Hogan published more than five dozen professional articles on health services research and health policy. He has published seventy works of fiction in the Sandscript, OASIS Journal (1st Prize, Fiction 2014), The Legendary, Widespread Fear of Monkeys, Hobo Pancakes, Twisted Dreams, Long Story Short, The Lorelei Signal, Silver Blade, Thick Jam, Copperfield Review, Fabula Argentea, The Blue Guitar Magazine, Shalla Magazine, Defenestration, Mobius, Grim Corps, Coming Around Again Anthology, Former People, Thrice, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Black Market Lit, Paragraph Line, Subtopian Magazine, Pine+Basil, Festival Writer: Unpublishable, Fiction on the Web, Children, Churches and Daddies, Midnight Circus, Stockholm Review of Literature, Lowestoft Chronicle, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Spank the Carp, Beechwood Review, Pear Drop, Marathon Review, Cyclamens and Swords, Short Break Fiction, Flash: International Short-Short Story Magazine, Slippery Elm Online, Story of the Month Club, Birds Piled Loosely, Zero Flash, Canyon Voices, Alebrijes, Rose Red Review, Yellow Chair Review, Serving House Journal, Funny in Five Hundred, Penny Shorts, The Thoughtful Dog, Front Porch Review, Minetta Review, Silver Pen Anthology, and Zany Zygote.

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