Hidden Mall 53: Death

None of them were quick enough for the way the abandoned Liv moved.  She dove at Abby, a glint of metal in her right hand and murder shining out of her eyes, tackling Abby to the ground.  Abby grabbed her arm just in time, holding the metal thing – a box cutter, what a shitty way to die – away from her chest by only an inch.

She got a foot into the mix and pressed it against Liv’s stomach, remembering, entirely ridiculously, this time when she and Liv, both much younger, had gotten into a wrestling match over a Barbie doll.  The doll had lost its head and an arm by the time they calmed down – that was the sort of fight that the two of them’d had, back when they were younger and they could solve things by throwing things and breaking dolls.  

It was suddenly too much.  Her grip on Liv’s arm went limp, and it was only the other two Livs that saved her from a really unpleasant end. She pushed away and curled up on herself, laughing or crying or possibly, probably, both.

“It’s… It’s a really nasty Barbie doll,” she snorted weakly, and wiped her eyes with her hand.  “But I really don’t want it to pull my head off, okay?”

“What?”  One of the Livs was staring at her.  Skinny-Liv?

Her Liv, the one she’d grown up with, was coughing. “Oh, god, that Barbie.  I wanted it so bad, and you wanted it, I don’t even remember why, and by the time we were done…”

“The mobile.”  She snorted. “We made a damn mobile out of its parts and entered it into the school art competition just because of…”

“Mrs. Halloran.”  This time it was angry-Liv, much quieter.  “I always wondered if that was some sort of moment where you something in you broke or turned.  Because you were *so smug* about that damn Barbie, it made me think that maybe you’d wanted it broken in the first place.  Better broken than shared with me, that sort of thing.”

“What?  What, no, no, I was just mad you wanted to play with her RIGHT THEN.  I was willing to take turns, you just…”

“She’s right.”  Liv cleared her throat. “Um, Abby’s right.  I was being selfish that day. I wanted all the dolls except Ken.  I don’t remember why, something about a girl band or something. But I really didn’t want her to have any of them, and there I was just throwing a tantrum.  We painted the Barbie. It was kind of awesome. And after that… Abby and I got better at sharing.”

“After that,” Liv-angry muttered, “I stopped trying to take Abby’s things ever.  Except that one time with Kevin…”

“There was a one time with Kevin?”

Skinny Liv was holding very still, barely listening to anything they were saying.  “Did you hear that? There are split points. And they’re not, uh. They might be entirely perception based.  What if they’re entirely US based? Me, you, you,” she pointed at the other two Livs.”

“…Your dad didn’t survive,” Abby’s-Liv pointed out.  “I don’t think that is your fault.”

“But what if it was?” She whispered it so quietly, Abby could barely follow her. “What if… There was this time I was going to go to church to pray for him…”

“…and it was snowing….” Angry Liv was very very quiet.

“…and I didn’t go.” Liv put her hands over her face.  “And then he… he died.”

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