Author's note: This is an entry for Whitix's Summer Writing Contest

Bea had been with Calvin for over five years. She loved him dearly. He had his quirks, but he was charming to a fault. He had stood by her through the death of her father; he comforted her when all the world had seemed to abandon her. She depended on him, admittedly not in a healthy way, but it worked for them so far.

They fought, as most couples often do. Little things, like leaving laundry in the wash over night or forgetting to switch off a light, would send Calvin into a rage. A quirk that Bea had learned to live with. She would always forgive him. He was her only true companion, anyway. Sure, she had coworkers she got along with, and a few friends dotted across the country that she had met in college, but no one was there for her like Calvin. She could not imagine life without him. The thought of being alone was more terrifying than living with his daily tantrums. She never graced social media, or tried to maintain her relationships outside of her home with Calvin.

It was an offensively bright day. The sun beat down on the hot ground, enough to sear the sole of your foot to the ground like steak in a pan. Bea was finishing up the laundry and preparing dinner before Calvin arrived home. He had been even more on edge as of late. Despite trying her best, Bea could never anticipate what would set Calvin off when he got home. She kept a mental check-list of all his pet peeves and made sure everything was to his liking before he stepped through the door. If life with her partner meant walking on egg-shells, Bea would oblige.

Calvin burst through the door. The sweltering heat billowed in behind him. It was like the gates of hell opening up into Bea’s living room. Mopping his brow with the back of his hand, Calvin shot a glance around the house. The air was turned to exactly 70 degrees Fahrenheit, just as he liked. He was greeted by a tidy, cool, living room. The smell of dinner wafted from the kitchen through the small, one-story home. Calvin’s nose scrunched in disgust.

“Onions? Bea! Are you cooking onions?!” he shouted from the doorway as he took off his shoes.

Bea began to panic, and absentmindedly scraped at the bottom of the pan on the stove. Calvin had a deep dislike for cooked onions. He said the texture was too slimy, and the taste reminded him of his mother, who was an awful cook and an even worse mother. Bea had used copious amounts of onion powder as a substitute, but she was not sure if Calvin would believe her. Even if he looked in the pan, his imagination would convince him that he saw onions. She gathered her composure for the ensuing argument.

“It’s just onion powder, babe. I wouldn’t cook onions for you!” Bea’s words were dripping with sweetness. She gave him a beaming smile as she stirred the pan of stir-fry on the stove. She motioned for him to come over and check, but he grunted before plopping down on the couch.

“Pretty much the same thing if you ask me. Jesus, Bea, why couldn’t you just make burgers or something?” The rest of his sentiment was lost under his grumbling breath.

Within the kitchen, Bea hastily finished the meal. She wanted to feed Calvin as soon as possible. She gave the pan a final stir before portioning out their dinners, making sure he had the larger portion. She put the cutlery on top of the plates and headed into the living room. The couple usually ate their meals and watched whatever Calvin clicked on while seated at their coffee table. Bea felt the knife slipping from Calvin’s plate, and she hurried to set it down in front of him. The plate slammed down, and the knife bounced onto the floor.

“BEA! Christ almighty. Come on! Get me another knife! And be careful this time!” he demanded. He picked up the knife and whipped it through the air in Bea’s direction. She felt the knife catch and pull a portion of her hair before landing in the wall behind her. She turned around in a flash.

Calvin was making his way off the couch. He was glaring at her, anger bubbling up and manifesting in his flushed face. Veins throbbed from his forehead and his eyes seemed to bulge from their sockets. Bea was stunned and stood frozen on the threshold between the living room and kitchen. She had never seen Calvin so enraged, and his temper was one of legends. What had happened that sent him so far over the edge?

He was yelling now, but not about anything in particular. She heard her name, peppered between vulgarities, but any context of his ramblings did not seem to stick. She thought back to when she had first met Calvin. He had been so sweet and funny – he never passed up an opportunity to make her laugh or smile. Now he was the spitting image of evil. He was leering in her direction as he struggled to get the knife out of the wall.

“This is your fault too. God damn it! Another thing I’ll have to fix around here. God damn it, Bea. I swear…” His voice tapered off as he successfully pulled the knife out of the drywall. Bea stared on in horror as he turned toward her direction, knife first.

“Calv, what are you doing? What’s going on? Go sit down!” Bea started whimpering as she backed away from the person she loved most in the world.

“I swear, every day is like this. I’m so tired of it, Bea. Why can’t you learn? It’s been almost six years, what is so hard about this? Am I really that complicated?” His face grew a shade of red deeper as his bloodshot eyes locked onto Bea.

“Calvin! SIT DOWN!” Bea screamed at him. Her face was wet with tears as she pleaded with him. She watched as he lunged toward her. She tried to push him away, but his adrenaline-fueled rage gave him superhuman strength. He pushed her down and watched as her head bounced on the window sill like a crash test dummy.

Calvin straddled his once-lover. His cold eyes plunging deep into her soul. He methodically searched her face for any indication that she would fight back, but her body was limp. He pressed his sweaty head against her chest and listened closely. Her heart thumped wildly behind its cage. He sat up triumphantly.

He didn’t like when they lost their fight. Bea had taken quite a while to break. He looked for the most vulnerable to prey upon. Bea had been estranged from her family and came to his town from out of state. He had wooed her with particular ease. He really loved when they were codependent – when they needed him just as much as he needed them.

Bea was no exception. She would cling to whoever was closest to her for dear life. She was alone in a sea of people that she called the world. He had started slowly, testing her limits. He could get away with being outwardly abusive to her. She had never really fought back. That’s what had made him choose her. He wanted to know just how much she could take before she broke. When years went by, he realized this girl would take whatever he could dish out. He chuckled, realizing now that she did have a limit, and this was it.

He had really tried to get Bea to argue. He had griped about the most miniscule of problems, only to have her apologize and try to correct her behavior. It was sickening to him; he could never love someone with so little self-respect. Nothing had worked, and it was time to end his game. He needed a new player – one with a little more fight in them.

He stroked Bea’s hair before wrapping his hand around her neck. He squeezed her throat, listening as her mouth voicelessly gaped open at the air like a fish out of water. Her eyes snapped open wide. He delighted in her reaction to him tightening his grip. The confusion danced across her face as she squirmed beneath his body. He lit up.

“Finally! A struggle!” he thought to himself. He was absolutely elated. The end fight was always the most enthralling. All the little quips built up into the most beautiful crescendo of pleas and terror. There was nothing more empowering than taking the light from someone’s eyes. He snickered as Bea continued to wriggle against his frame.

“If only you had been so feisty before! This might not have gone on so long.” Calvin’s hand pressed hard against her mouth, muffling her cries for help. Her eyes narrowed in anger toward him as she tried to bite at his hand. He laughed at her feeble attempts as she continued to fight against him. It was times like these he was grateful for the secluded nature of Bea’s subdivision.

Savoring the moment was losing its appeal. His head was flooding with ideas for his next target. He gleefully imagined meeting a new girl and charming his way into her home. Would she be brunette, or a blonde? Maybe a red-head this time? The sky was the limit, as soon as he was finished here.

Bea had stopped struggling. He looked down and noticed her shallow breathing. He really hated strangling. He always relished a little bloodshed – without it, the ending always felt incomplete. He started to slap the sides of Bea’s face, trying to get her to wake back up. He cursed under his breath as she turned paler.

He had wanted to say goodbye. He fancied himself a romantic, and he always did enjoy giving the girls their last words. He was sad that Bea wouldn’t have that pleasure, but time was of the essence. He had to stage the home accordingly before fleeing. A simple robbery gone wrong would be a good enough explanation for what happened here, as long as he did not go overboard.

He tactfully grabbed her arms and hands, forming them into defensive fists. Knowingly, he beat her limp body against the ground and table, not unlike what would happen in a real struggle. He then clumsily plunged the knife into her ribcage before dismounting her bleeding body. He made sure there were not professional touches to the scene. He rifled through her wallet, taking the cash she had on her, and a few pieces of jewelry from the bedroom. Satisfied, he turned away and headed out the back door.

Beneath the shadow of the evening dusk, Calvin ducked and dodged the ending daylight. He scoped each path and made sure to not run into another pedestrian. Fishing through his pocket, he pulled out the wad of cash and several identification cards, all baring different names. The one on top had his picture and the name “Calvin James” embossed on the font. With the lighter from his other pocket, he steadily burned Calvin James until any trace of that identity was gone.

He continued on his way, to his favorite watering hole. Maybe tonight he would finally find “the one”.

Written by BlizzardLemon
Content is available under CC BY-NC