Thursday Thriller – Caught

mysterious

Sorry for the late posting!

Read Part 1 – Watched

Read Part 2 – Watcher

Read Part 3 – Harmless

My tea is cool. I still wrap my hands around the mug, though I draw no warmth from it. It’s Marley’s mug. I remember it. Her lips have touched it. I imagine her, sitting by a frosted window in her old apartment, resting her sore legs and flipping through a magazine, sipping herbal tea. I wonder if my lips are touching the same places as hers.

Our conversation has reached another lull. I know that she will ask me to leave soon. Politely, of course. Dear Marley is always perfectly polite. But I’ll still be outside in the cold. Politely dismissed. I’m tired of being left behind.

Marley yawns dramatically and stretches, probably about to tell me about how exhausted she is and how badly she needs a shower and a nap. I’ve seen her do it before with other unwanted guests. Before she can say anything, I ask her the question.

“Why didn’t you recognize me that night?”

She cocks her head at me, a strange-sounding laugh catches in her throat. She will figure it out soon. Her thoughts are starting down the path, slowly leading her to the truth.

“What do you mean?”

“I waited outside for you for hours. I was freezing. But you treated me like just another…another…fan!” I spit out the last word violently because it offends me.

She knows now. She rises from the couch slowly and begins backing towards the door.

“I’m sorry, Liz…”

“I thought we were friends. We were so close in school…”

“Liz, there are so many people crowded around me after a performance. I probably didn’t see you.  I’m sorry, Liz. I’m so, so sorry,” she repeats.

“Not enough,” I say, standing and stepping closer to her.

“What do you want from me?” She asks, her eyes wide, tears streaming down her disgustingly beautiful face.

“Nothing,” I say honestly. Then I lunge for her.

Read Part 5 – Descent

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Breath

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We left her behind.  The baby Willa took.  Willa was beside herself, clawing at me, pulling at her clothes, her hair, begging to take the child with us.  But I won’t inflict that pain on anyone else.

They will be looking for her soon.  It won’t take long for the authorities to connect the dots that lead straight to our home.   We have to run.

Willa isn’t well.  The truth is unavoidable now.  It’s no longer hiding, the storm just beneath the surface of our marriage.  She will never recover from our loss.  I should get her help.  I should.  A better man would.  But I won’t survive without Willa.  She is the breath in my lungs.  I will watch her.  I will keep her from wandering.

We stop to rest, and I fall asleep with her in my arms, exhaling softly against my chest.  In the morning, her side of the bed is cold once again.

 

For Story a Day and the Daily Post using characters from yesterday’s story.

Thursday Thriller – Watcher

mysterious

Read Part 1 – Watched

Marley and I were friends in high school.  She was a star.  The lead in every play.  A perfect, graceful dancer.  Popular, yet gracious and kind to everyone.  After each school play, she invited the entire cast back to her house for an after-party, including those of us on the crew, like me.   Once, she even let me see her room.  It smelled like her, sweet and airy, like rosewater.  There was a stack of laundry sitting in a basket on the floor and I slipped one of her shirts in my pocket when she wasn’t looking.  Sometimes, I wore it to school, under my clothes.  It was special and secret, like our friendship.

Everyone else just ignored me, but not Marley.  She spoke to me every time she saw me in the halls, even if she was with her popular friends, the pretty girls who looked down their noses at me.

“Hi Liz,” she would say, offering me her usual sunny smile.  “Have a great day!”

“You too!”  I’d beam back at her.

When I found out she was performing in New York, I drove 12 hours to see her dance.  I stood outside the theater in the frigid cold for over two hours, waiting for her to come out.

“Hi everyone!”  She greeted the fans with a wave and the same bright smile, stopping to sign a few programs.

“Hi Marley!”  I shouted.  She turned to me.  This is it,  I thought to myself.  The moment she would tell them to move the barrier that stood between us, that I was her friend.  She’d invite me out for coffee where we’d catch up and laugh about old times.  There was no recognition in her eyes.  She smiled at me blandly, the same way she’d smiled at everyone else, scribbling her name on my program before she was whisked away to a waiting car. I didn’t want her pathetic autograph.

The crowd dispersed.  People stared at me strangely as I tossed my signed program in the trash and stormed off.  That was the moment I decided she would pay.

I’m watching her now.  She thinks she’s safe, moving so far away, changing her name.  But I’ve found her.  I’ll always find her.  The music ends.  She looks up, right into the camera lens, slowly stepping closer.  Her hand covers the monitor and the screen goes black.

Read Part 3 – Harmless