There have been occasions when I scrolled through my phone and liked an #OOTD picture on Instagram, only to see an ad with models wearing the exact same thing on my laptop later.
Then there was the time when my friends got into a heated discussion about which sex toys we have tried and which ones we were curious about experimenting with in the future. I never typed ‘vibrator’ or ‘lingerie’ or anything risqué into Google. But later that same day, there was a banner across the bottom of the YouTube video I was watching for an adult shop selling erotic pleasures.
I joked about how someone must have been watching us through my webcam, but in reality I figured it was only a weird coincidence. Until earlier this week.
To make a long story short, Giavonni is not a good person. He fits the standard cliche of what everyone imagines an evil step-father to be. Alcoholic. Abuser. Asshole.
When I noticed the extra bruises on my mother’s arm last Monday, I blasted Pandora in my bedroom and mumbled through the sounds about how I wanted to fucking kill him. I wanted to slit his throat from end to end. I wanted to taste his blood. I wanted to watch the devil drag him away. I never meant the words, not really, but it felt good to say them.
When the song ended, the ad that played next was for kitchen knives.
I Skyped one of my equally self-deprecating friends about how fitting the advertisement was after the rant I had given to my empty bedroom. The conversation veered into how, if I was being practical, I probably wouldn’t be able to kill someone so hands-on. I would need distance. I would need a gun or something.
After the call ended, I checked Facebook, chatted with a few friends I hadn’t seen since summer, liked some photographs from family members I was happy I hadn’t seen since Christmas, and stopped scrolling when I noticed an ad for firearms.
I thought it was weirdly placed, considering I heard Zuckerberg tracks whether you’re a liberal, moderate, or conservative and provides ads based on your political beliefs. I consistently liked posts about ending gun violence and supporting gun control, which made the advertisement inappropriate for someone like me.
A part of me wondered whether my Skype conversation influenced the ad, but I pushed the thought away. The government listening through webcams was a meme. An overdone joke that people liked to make because they knew how ridiculous it sounded.
Ready for bed, I logged out from Facebook and Xed out my paused Pandora playlist. While I was closing down tabs, I noticed one that I hadn’t remembered opening in the first place. It was an article from Thought Catalog called 16 Steps To Kill Someone And Not Get Caught.
I didn’t have a logical answer for how an entire page materialized onto my screen without my knowledge, but I read through the list anyway. It gave me ideas, it gave me reassurance, it gave me the confidence getting Giavonni out of the picture might be easier than I thought… It might actually be possible… It might…
“No,” I said aloud, closing the entire browser. “My mother deserves to be safe and that asshole deserves to die but I’m not going to be the one to do it. I couldn’t do it. I could never look at someone and watch them die. I could never actually see it happen. I’m not as badass as I like to pretend in my daydreams. I’m just not.”
Words flashed onto my empty screen and faded away just as fast. I swear they said:
YOU DONT HAVE TO WATCH
I slammed the lid of my laptop closed. I must have been seeing things. I must have been overtired.
I passed out the second my cheeks smushed against my pillow and in the morning I felt better, more sane, more stable.
But before I left for class, my mother asked if I had ordered something online, because a box wrapped with Amazon Prime had appeared on our doorstep. I shook my head, but I grabbed the package anyway.
A baggie of powder sat inside. Poison. Poison that I could easily slip into one of my step-father’s beers the next time he asked me to grab one from the fridge. And I wouldn’t even have to be there to watch him die.