Friday, May 18, 2012

Fun While it Lasted


by Kristina Wright

She stood at the bottom of the stairs looking up. With a sigh, she made up her mind, stomped up the stairs and stood at his door. She opened her purse, took it out and held it in her hand. She hammered on the door with her fist. "Henry! Open up! It's me."

Silence.

She pounded on the door again. “C’mon, Henry, don’t be mad. I told you I’d give it back to you. Let me in and I’ll show you.”

The silence was nerve wracking.

Not expecting anything, put her hand on the door knob and found that it turned easily in her hand. She opened the door slowly, sensing something was wrong like that feeling you get the day before you come down with the flu. Like everything is normal, but something is lurking. Waiting to get you.

That thought made her pause. Henry wouldn’t. Would he? Henry loved her. He would never hurt her. Never.

“No!” she muttered pushing the door all the way open.

The living room looked as it always did. Neat, tidy, masculine. Nothing seemed out of place, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very, very wrong.

“Henry?” she called softly. “Are you here?”

But of course he had to be here. Henry wouldn’t leave the door unlocked. He was careful. Meticulous. In everything, from his job as an attorney to his careful, attentive lovemaking, Henry was precise. Henry always did the right thing. But right now, it felt like Henry was doing something to scare her and that didn’t feel right at all.

“Henry!” she called, angry at him for making the hair stand up on the back of her neck. “I brought it. You said you wanted it and I brought it.”

She didn’t like the way she sounded. A little hysterical, like she was going to cry. She had been through hell and back and hadn’t cried; she wasn’t going to cry now. Hell, no.

She moved through the apartment she knew so well. The kitchen with its white walls and wood trim, white dishes stacked neatly on open shelves. She often made dinner in this kitchen, daydreaming of the time when she could do more than share a meal and a quick fuck with Henry before he sent her home so he could do some more work. He never let her stay over. He was busy. And she was lucky he fit her into his life.

She giggled. Henry would be so happy she was giving him what he wanted. He would realize he didn’t really want it at all, that it didn’t matter. Sometimes people thought they wanted one thing when they really wanted something else entirely. Her plan was beautiful. Perfect.

Well, almost perfect. Henry was messing it all up.

“Henry!” she called, exasperated, as she walked down the hall to the bedroom. “I know you’re here. You left the door unlocked.”

But he wasn’t in the bedroom. The bed was made, neat as always, four pillows against the scrolled brass headboard, a dark green spread smoothed over the mattress she knew was both firm and comfortable. She ran damp fingers over the dark fabric, leaving moisture as she did. Leaving her mark.

“Henry,” she whispered, almost reverently. Oh, how she loved him.

It was a beautiful apartment, but it wasn’t very big. She’d seen everything there was to see, except the bathroom. She stared at the closed door, knowing Henry must be in there. Surely he had heard her and would come out in a moment. But the door remained closed before her.

“Henry? Are you sick?”

She hesitated, her hand on the door knob. It felt like such an invasion of privacy to just burst in on him like this. But now she was worried and she loved him. He’d understand.

She took a breath and opened the door. “Henry?”

He was in the bathtub. Stretched out, head resting on the edge of the tub. He looked relaxed. That in itself wasn’t odd, Henry had a bad back and enjoyed a hot bath now and then. But there was no water. And Henry was wearing his navy blue pajamas she had gotten him for his birthday.

“Henry? Are you okay?”

His head was turned toward her, but he didn’t speak. He just stared at her.

It took her a moment to realize that something was wrong. Henry wasn’t moving. He wasn’t blinking. And, oh, there was a dark spot spreading across the chest of his shirt. He’d been shot! There was no time to contemplate who might have done this horrible thing. She had to help Henry.

She put her gift to him on the bathroom counter and rushed to his side. Kneeling beside him on the cold linoleum, she put her hand on his chest. It didn’t move. There was no heartbeat.

Her first thought was, thank goodness she had taken some nursing classes at the community college. Her second thought was that there was an awful lot of blood and something felt… wrong… with his chest. She unbuttoned his pajama shirt with trembling fingers, thinking only of helping Henry.

Spreading his shirt open, hoping to staunch the flow of blood and begin CPR, she shrieked. Then she turned her head and vomited on the floor beside the tub.

His chest was a gaping, hollow wound.

“Henry!” she cried, knowing there was nothing she could do for him. He was dead. Her beloved Henry was gone. Her skills were useless.

Something tickled the back of her mind. Some little fact she was forgetting. At first, she thought it was the realization that who had ever done this to Henry might still be in the apartment, intent on harming her.  But no, she was safe. She knew that. She had seen to that.

She remembered then. Remembered Henry’s last words to her the night before, after they had eaten dinner and then had sex.

“I love you, but I met someone else. Someone more… stable. Someone I can really share my life with and give my heart to.”

She’d stared at him as if he’d grown a second head. “You just fucked me senseless and now you’re breaking up with me? What was that, pity sex?”

His laugh had been apologetic, but it was still a laugh. “You’re amazing in bed, baby. And you’re fun to be with. And, if I were honest with myself, I’d admit that you have my heart. But it’s time for me to get serious and settle down. And you’re not the kind of girl a guy like me settles down with.”

“You mean ‘settles for,’ don’t you?” she’d asked bitterly. “Just a waitress who wants to be a nurse someday.”

He’d gathered her up in his arms, held her close, then pounded the last nails in her coffin. “You can’t understand, baby. You can’t understand the pressure I’m under. Everyone wants a piece of me and something has to give. There’s a political career in my future and you just don’t… fit. I’m so, so sorry.”

She’d seen red then. Her body was still warm and soft from his lovemaking, but she had nothing inside of her except rage. “You said I have your fucking heart. You just said you loved me and I have your heart.”

His pretty blue eyes had gone cold and icy then. “Well then, I guess I want my heart back, okay? It’s time to stop playing games and grow up. It's been fun, but it's over.”

Just like that. It's over. Like he could just fuck her and walk away. As if she didn't matter at all. As if she'd let him do that.

“You want your heart back?” she had asked sweetly. “Well then, I’ll be sure to give it back to you.”

I’ll be sure to give it back to you.

It all came back then. All of it.

She gasped, gagged again, but there was nothing left to purge. Eyes wide, she looked from Henry to the bathroom counter. Her gift to him. Her gift to her beloved Henry. His heart. Cut from his body when he told her to leave and went in the bathroom to get dressed for bed. Henry's beautiful gourmet kitchen had provided all the tools she needed to give him exactly what he wanted. Who knew she could be so angry or determined? 

His poor heart lay there, cold and rubbery, gray and red, looking as out of place on the gleaming marble counter as Henry looked laying in the bathtub without it. Looking not quite real, like Henry didn’t look quite real. But it was real and he was real. And after walking around the city all night, making her peace with the fact her love was dead, she’d come back to give him what he said he wanted. 

She stood up, her legs tingling from kneeling for so long. She smiled fondly at him, looking only at his face.

“I gave it to you, Henry,” she whispered as she left the bathroom and carefully closed the door behind her. “You wanted it back and now you have it. Goodbye.”

He was right. It had been fun while it lasted.

10 comments:

  1. Interesting story (nice and gruesome), but I think you need to look up the verbs "to lie" and "to lay." Then you'll find that Henry was LYING in the tub, rather than laying.

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  2. Thanks. One day I'll get it right. Or just rely on helpful commenters to remind me.

    Forgot to note this is a first draft.

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  3. "Lie" (past tense "lay") is something you yourself do. You lie in bed, just as you lie low or lie in wait. "Lay" (past tense "laid") is something you do to other things or people. You lay a newspaper on the table, or you lay the baby in bed. So you LIE in bed, after he has LAID you in it. Hope that helps.

    Sincere apologies for being such a terrible pedantic. It's just that mistakes like this take me out of otherwise good stories.

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  4. Forget the grammar, that's why God made spell checkers, story is what we care about. The story was FUN. It reminded of the old Tales From the Crypt stories. You could write for the pulps. Thanks!

    Garce

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  5. I do hope you're a fan of "Tales From the Crypt" - I am. That was good.

    Garce

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  6. Garce, the problem with lie/lay mistakes is that spell checkers do NOT pick up on them, just like most spell checkers do not pick up on there/their/they're and its/it's mistakes. The lie/lay mistake has become so pervasive that even supposedly professional editors and proof-readers are overlooking it. You wouldn't believe how many times I've come across it in erotica books, even those edited by well-reputed publishers. That's why I felt the need to point it out. It's getting out of hand. Not just in Kristina's stories, but in many other authors' stories besides, on this blog as well as others.

    I do agree on the story, though -- apart from the one mistake which caught my eye and took me out of the story, it's a good read. It had me going, "Whoa!" which is a response not many stories elicit from me!

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  7. Oy! I would have expected a gruesome yarn like this out of Garce, or maybe even Kathleen, but you, Kristina? ;^)

    Guess I'm still getting to know you all!

    And you did a fabulous job with the suspense in this tale. Really had me guessing.

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  8. Thanks, Lisabet. In rereading it, I see how awkward and clunky it is, but it was a first draft. I might delve back into it when I have time.

    And horror was my first love. :-) I'm just not very good at it.

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