Back in the summer of 2012, I was recovering from a mental breakdown which was mostly brought on by an overwhelming amount of anxiety due to university, work, my relationships with The Ex and my mom… I kinda just blue-screened and stopped functioning. I was trying different medications, packing on the weight and spent most of my time indoors (because I was terrified of leaving the house.)
So when a young woman was brutally stabbed to death right outside my house on this day four years ago, it’s safe to say that it added to an already potent mix of fear and despair. It all started when The Ex and I were woken up by a scream after some arguing between a couple stirred us a few times. I looked out of our bedroom window and saw her half-hanging out of the back of a taxi, the driver clearly distraught. Despite The Ex’s protests, I rushed downstairs to see what I could do to help – but the driver told us to go back inside, and that he thought the girl was dead.
Over the next few hours, the area outside on our road became a circus of paramedics, police and people desperate to see what had happened. Both The Ex and I were interviewed as witnesses, asked what we had heard and seen, before being asked to be witnesses should the case go to court. We’d sat in my bedroom at the window and watched as the paramedics worked to save the young woman’s life, but she was indeed dead. I can remember the sheer amount of blood, and the lack of dignity that came with her last moments as we saw her stripped so they could try to save her. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t. Twitter and Facebook were both ablaze with comments and speculations, and we were told by the police to keep quiet.
Then came the cabin fever. Even after the girl’s body was taken away, we had to stay in our house. If we opened the door, a police officer would be at the front gate ready to tell us to go back inside. It was the same for everyone on our road and up the grove opposite to us. It was a good few more hours before we were allowed to leave, as The Ex and I decided to just go into town for some semblance of normality after what we had seen. The crime scene clean-up were there in their white full body suits, cheerfully thanking us for our patience as they hosed down the blood off the concrete. I remember just walking down the road through the police cordon where TV crews were set up to talk to people who didn’t even live near us. Anything for five seconds on TV, I suppose. Nobody batted an eyelid at us, even though we had just left the crime scene.
I don’t remember what we did in town. All I know is that I didn’t want to go back home to where it had happened. I was worried about Mom, who said that there were hoards of people right outside our house and that the dogs were getting upset. (Both Shandy and Lady used to be far more anxious, due to my mom being a permanent coiled spring – they settled down when they fell under my care.) The Ex showed no real emotion about any of it, something which always upset me as I felt overemotional in comparison. He spent all day on his phone, and as I later found out he was talking to the American through the whole ordeal, giving her a running commentary whilst saying nothing to me.
That night, I dreamt of blood and screams, where I was the body on the concrete and the whole world saw me naked and dying.
They caught the man who had killed her, he was her partner and the father to her three young children. Over the months, the police kept in touch with us about going to court, the procedures and what we would have to do. In the end it was for nothing though, as he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. The spot where she died outside my house became a shrine to her. Mom and I did our best to keep it tidy, and I tried my hardest to deal with the floods of people day in and day out. I was still alive after all, I should’ve been grateful. But I wasn’t, and I still wanted to kill myself with each passing day.
In some ways, I grew jealous of the dead girl. How fucked up is that? She had everything to live for, and there I was stewing in deep depression and fantasising about ending my life.
I never speak about this incident in a serious way. I’ll tell people and they’ll say “Oh how awful that you saw that,” and I shrug and say it was just one of those things. But deep down, fuck if it didn’t mess me up a little. I think back even now and ask myself, why didn’t I go out to her despite what the driver said? Could I have helped save her? Why didn’t I just sit with her, so she wasn’t alone? I watched another human being die, and I didn’t do anything.
I wonder if The Ex still thinks about that day. I wonder if it affected him at all. You’d think that being with someone for over three years meant that you could read them enough to know, but I never could. And if I tried, I usually got it wrong.
Maybe that day will be just another one of those events in life that I put to the back of my mind until it resurfaces and fucks me up all over again. Or, maybe I have gone through enough hell in my own life that this kind of horror just doesn’t affect me as it should.