Lisa knew it was going to be a bad night . She heard the front door open . She recognized the sound of his footsteps as he climbed the stairs.
It had been a month since Kyle left home, and she was hoping that this time he would not come back. She had long since thrown out his things.
But he paid no mind to that.
Standing in the doorway of her bedroom, he nodded to her in acknowledgment. She could not see his dark eyes in the shadows, but she knew well the gleam that was in them.
Sometimes his eyes reminded her of a wolf, expectant and confident that he had his prey where he wanted her. He came and lay down on the bed beside her. She wrapped her arms around him and let him pull her tight against his chest. This was weakness on her part, she knew. This man was bad for her, always had been.
Resisting him had always been a problem, and tonight would probably be no different. He smelled sweet, like spring grass. His lips were dry but smooth, his kiss gentler than she remembered.
She put up with his behavior because she loved him, because he made her feel a way that no one else did. She ignored his indiscretions. He told her once: “ I always come back to you, no matter what. I love you. I can’t stay away.”
“There is only so much that I can take,” she’d told him one night over dinner. That was the last night she remembered spending with him, before he went away. “ There’s only so much time you can go on like this.” He’d looked up from his plate, still holding his steak knife firmly in his left hand. And he grinned, a crooked smile that made her blood boil.
It was like he was sneering at her…. I’ll do whatever the hell I want. And you’ll let me.
She remembered so little of that night. And now, she found herself struggling to remember.
Still holding him, she let her fingers glide over his chest. It was a habit that she no longer even thought about. He sighed, and at first she thought this was a sound of pleasure. But then, her fingers found it: emptiness, wetness. The wound between his second and third rib. “Baby,” he whispered, his lips pressed against her forehead. “We cannot keep doing this. You have to let me go.”
“You cheated,” she said, tears springing to her eyes. “I told you to stop.”
These words were her explanation for why she’d stabbed him. She had made this wound, this gaping wound that was large enough for her to place her fist inside it. Now the memories, that always were shrouded when he was near her, came roaring back.
She could not imagine how this could be happening. He’d died weeks ago, by her own hand.
“It’s my penance, maybe,” he said softly. But the anger was there. “Just let me go. I don’t want to stay like this. I’m here because of you. I’m supposed….” His voice seemed to fade. “I’m supposed to rest now. But you keep holding me back. I can’t stay away.”
“What do you want?” she bolted upright, and fell off the edge of the bed. She pushed herself backwards until her back hit the wall. He sat up then. “Do it,” he said, taking a knife from his pocket. It gleamed in the dark like a sword. “Finish me…”
“You have to. You think I haven’t tried? What do you think I’ve been doing when I wasn’t here? Please! Just end it.”
She stood. And she took the knife in her hand, ready to do what he asked.
A month later, he came home.
Lying down on the bed beside her, he held her close in his arms. “I told you I’d never go far,” he said. “I can’t stay away.”
© 2009 Lori Titus
Lori Titus’s The Marradith Ryder Series appears each Wednesday on Flashes in the Dark. Many of her short stories have appeared on MicroHorror and Shadeworks, and she is currently writing an anthology of short stories with a tentative release date in 2010.
For more information see her at http://www.myspace.com/talesforthedark.