Murder dripped from my mind as a dark and unctuous treacle; it coated me in death.
And so it was I stole upon her unawares, my once love, my once life. She combed her long, raven hair with the brush I had bought her when first we met, a trinket to me, rather more to her. Here I watched from the shadows of an unlit hallway. Here my spite grew bestial.
I launched myself upon her with the vicious confidence only fear could manifest. Exactly ten years to the night, on Halloween, to be exact, I would end the turmoil of our love. My fingers closed about her throat, a sick adulation shining from my eyes.
She did not die. She would not die. The mirror as always stood empty and silent.
I’d married a witch, my fault, my lapse. I’d married a witch, and I sought to end it. As ever, she refused. She tossed me aside like a rag doll. I crumpled. She laughed.
“Maybe next year,” she sneered.
She could be sure I’d try.
They hear us at night
Tinkling in the jet darkness
As spiders build webs
I bumble my way across the dining room to the foot of the stairs. Here, I pause. I know full well the first three steps creak from shoddy workmanship. Even though our house is still new in the timespan of such things, the stairs are a constant noisy annoyance. I step to the right which negates said creaking, but creak it does and I curse again. I blame my new shoes. It must be them.
If I wake Helen, she’ll get cross. But if there’s someone here, an intruder, as I suspect there is, then time is of the essence. What to do? What to do?
In my usual way, I compromise. I’m a man who always compromises. From the house we live in to the shoes on my feet, I have made compromises. I moved here for Helen to be close to her mother, an ailing chicken of a woman who hates me. The shoes I wear are brogues; I hate brogues. I bought them because Helen liked them and now their stupid, unforgiving leather is slowing my climb to save a woman who, in turn, is a compromise. Hey-ho, what’s a man to do? I climb. I ascend.
To Be Continued…
I run my fingertips across our new kitchen doors; they seem less polished, more ragged than the lacquered finish that cost me a holiday and a year of moaning. I don’t know why this is because I bought them for Helen, or so I convince my obsequious self each new day that I fawn upon them. One… two… three doors to the left and I reach back to the light switch. The switch has gone!
More alarmed now, I manoeuvre myself into the open-plan dining room banging my foot on a chair that usually resides pressed back to the wall. My new shoes are going to hate me, they’ll be ruined before the day is through.
It is a relief to grab the patio curtains and fling them aside, but I’ve forgotten there’s no moon tonight and it’s still as dark as ever. I curse under my breath. Cursing is a frequent pastime.
I want to shout out, to hail my wife and receive an answer. I don’t though. Whether it’s because it’s close to midnight, or whether I fear the reply, instead, I shuffle to the stairs.
Where are you Helen? Where are you?
To Be continued…
In the middle of the night, I wake up screaming. I don't remember the why, how or when of my terrors just those terrible, haunted eyes. They flick open like Venetian blinds, quick and bright, then stare into my soul. I hate them. I really do. They're just like mine.
He was unknown to us that night. A tall, dark figure framed by the lightning of an uncommon storm, the stranger tipped his hat, grinned, and then ordered a beer. He drank this with the eyes of the town upon him, wiped his mouth, nodded, then left.
"Bye," I said, out of nerves more than politeness.
He grinned the grin of a crocodile and winked. The storm swallowed him in moments.
"What did he say? What did he say?" asked the others once he was out of earshot.
"For now," I replied.
I shivered then though I didn't know why. I left in a hurry with no intention of ever going back because I was sure of one thing with a clarity like polished glass, when the unknown man did return, I wouldn't get the chance.
Book written. Laptop closed. Now run.