His body is still, but inside, he is rampaging. Ravenous. His eyes move constantly, watching for her, and his only other movement, almost imperceptible, is a slight pulsing of his knee as it quickly moves ever so slightly up and down. It’s all his mind can allow. She can’t know what is hiding in him.
He pushes it away as she steps out onto the deck and he immediately settles into his guy-next-door persona. It makes him smile to know that she has no idea what kind of man he really is.
She’s laughing now, as she grazes his shoulder with her fingertips and leans in close to place a drink in front of him. Her long hair brushes against him and he silently inhales her scent, eyes wide open, and he can barely stop himself from reaching up and grabbing her by the throat right then.
But it’s not how he does it.
As she straightens up and moves to the chair opposite him, he takes a long drink from the glass and turns his body towards her, smiling at whatever vapid thing she’s talking about. Somehow he grasp the context and laughs in just the right places. He joins the conversation and eventually asks her if she would mind if he lit a cigarette. She nods and says it’s fine and he stands, carefully removing a smoke from the packet and placing it between his lips, in the corner of his mouth. “Do you like living alone?” he asks. She pauses, looking up at him, considering, suddenly a little cautious. She takes a deep breath, and says she doesn’t mind living alone and goes on to talk about how easy things are, how she can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants.
He cups his hands around his mouth, lighting the cigarette and his eyes are momentarily red in the light of the flame as he looks down at her and asks, “do you ever get scared, being here by yourself?”.
She is silent now, and looks up at him, her eyes narrowing.
And it’s only at that point that he realizes that he’s leaning heavily on the railing surrounding the deck. And that his head is clouded and full of movement, even though he’s standing still. He tries to stand up straight but stumbles, falling heavily onto his knees. He reaches out to steady himself on the table and as his vision struggles to clear, he can see her smiling now. Smiling broadly at him, as she salutes him with her untouched glass.
And he realizes, too late, that he is the helpless victim this time.
The last time.
. . .
This dark little story is dedicated to my friend who recently asked me when I was going to write another one. It’s a short one, and hopefully you enjoyed the little twist. It was based on an actual conversation I once had with a handyman – good grief.
I’m finding it difficult to write these days, although to be honest I’ve been too tired and busy to even try. I’m having some trouble shutting my brain off again, but that will pass.
Some of you will remember my frequent flyer days, when I could write a story almost every flight. It doesn’t seem to work the same any other way – this one took some coaxing but I got there, which makes me happy.