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I walk into my bedroom to find my wife crying. She holds a piece of paper, ripped off from a notebook, stained with tears. With one hand she curls her fingers around the paper until it wrinkles. The other one hides her mouth. She tries her best to silence her sobbing.
I stand still, and wait for her to give me an explanation. My heart drums a frantic beat in my chest, but I remind myself to remain calm.
“Chester,” Sabrina begins, sniffling as she talks, “what does this mean? What the hell is this?”
“What do you mean, sweetie?” I ask, but I know what she holds in her hands. I know the notebook it came from. I recognize my chicken-scratch handwriting, which she tried to improve the first time we met in college. It’s funny, really. I remember all those evenings we went to the library with a notebook filled with my writing, and she would make me practice new words and scripts. Sometimes she would grab my hand and guide my fingers, her soft hand interlaced with mine. Those were the times I wanted to kiss her the most.
But thinking of such fond memories at this very moment seems inappropriate.
I watch her raise her head towards me, and narrow her eyes at my direction. They glow with a red and weary hue. Her pupils dilate the longer they study me. A rush of emotions tackle her. Tears slip from the corner of her eyes, trail down her cheeks, and land on the carpet floor.
“Don’t try to bullshit me right now, Chester,” she whelps. “You know damn well what this is.” The open window in our room invites a chilling breeze. Outside in the night the wind howls and blows away leaves from trees. The moon shines its light behind Sabrina, casting a silhouette of her figure.
“If you can let me explain-”
“No!” My wife’s throat locks shut. She chokes on her words. “There’s just no explanation, no goddamn reasoning for this! When did you write this? How long has this been going on? How long have you felt this way?”
“I didn’t want you finding out like this,” I whisper. We gaze hard into each other’s eyes, the both of us refusing to turn away. Wars wage on in our minds. She tries to uncover any truths hiding under the layers of lies I cocoon myself in, but I refuse to shed out of my thick skin. No matter how many times I wanted to open up to someone in this world, especially my wife, I always failed with every attempt. People call it apathy. I define it as achieving solace.
“Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?” Sabrina babbles on. She never takes tragic news with a sincere approach. Her anger and feelings get the best of her every time. “What the hell is this that you wrote?
“How long have you been planning on committing suicide?”
My secret floats out in the open, naked and ready for accusations. A force of humiliation pinches my heart, and I recoil. I feel my lungs clench together. The world around me loses its balance. Sabrina glares at me as if she caught me cheating. I don’t panic. I don’t feel sorrow or pain. But things didn’t turn out the way I expected them to. I guess that’s just the way things go.
“I’m not ready to talk about this,” I say. I sense the hot tension seeping out of my wife, her nerves seconds away from snapping and unleashing all hell upon me. I maintain my composure.
“No. No, that’s not how this is gonna work tonight.” Sabrina’s lips quiver, a sign of her discomfort and rage. I can name all of her subtle actions that tell me exactly how she feels. You spend most of your life investing so much time on a person, you observe her every move, braid wonderful memories together, cherish every second that lasts, and yet you realize she knows nothing about you. Nothing concrete or deep about who you are. She sleeps next to a stranger every day. “This isn’t just something we can avoid. You need help right now.”
She knows nothing of what I need or want. I wonder how she would react if she discovers all of my other secrets. I sit in a throne of lies, and from this view the world transforms to something new and wonderful. But it’s not the reality I know and live in.
I ponder back to the few moments I fooled myself that everything is perfect. Sometimes I wish I could just get lost in those moments forever.
I feel it the most when Sabrina and I stare deep into our eyes with intimacy, and right when our lips touch. During this time the universe outside of my wife’s face dissolves and becomes oblivious. I gravitate all of my focus towards Sabrina. The few seconds after we kiss, however, the truth of my lies wake up from their slumber, and come to disturb me. Then the dread arrives. And soon that magic that soared free moments ago falls and dies.
“You don’t really know me, honey,” I say. Honesty spills from my lips, and it tastes bitter sweet. “You never knew who I am inside. I only showed you little bits of who I am. But in all honesty you married a stranger.”
“What do you mean when you say that? We’ve been married six years. How can I not know you by now? You’re Chester Lopez. You’re the love of my life. You’re the man who helped me through college. You’re the person who paid for my father’s chemo therapy. You’re my everything and I want to help you. I don’t wanna lose you.” She breaks down again. I hate seeing her hurt, but these are the results of my actions.
Despite my dishonest personality, I hold very few truths in my heart. I know I may go to Hell if such a place exists. I know this world consists of good and evil. And I know I love Sabrina.
“I know I did all of those things,” I say. “I made sure to paint a certain picture of who I want to be for you. But they don’t show who I really am.” As the truth leaks out of me, I feel the weight on my shoulders loosen and spring free. I’ve grown used to supporting so many lies that I forgot how great it feels to liberate myself from such constraints.
“Then I want the truth right now, goddammit!” Sabrina spits. “I’m tired of all the lies. I want to know everything. What the hell is this suicide letter? What do you mean you feel guilty? What do you mean that you can’t live with yourself anymore? What the hell is going on, Chester? Please just tell me the truth for once in your life.”
Love holds a lot of responsibility. Someone gives you the key to her heart, and exposes all of her weaknesses and scars. At any moment you can decide to hurt that person, abandon her, and never return. Sabrina left herself vulnerable when we fell in love. Even with these consequences, she chooses to trust and care for me through thick and thin.
“Okay,” I say. “I’ll tell you the truth right now, Sabrina. For you. Or better yet, I’ll show you what I mean.”
“Show me?” She hesitates to respond. “What- What do you mean?”
“Did you read those last few lines carefully? Take a good look at ‘em again.” I feel free. Once and for all the love of my life will know everything, and there will no longer be anything between us.
“Okay,” Sabrina mumbles. “It says, ‘I can no longer live while suffering from the lies I stack my life upon. I want the world to know all of the skeletons in my closet. But first, I must kill the things I love, just like any great artist.’ And then you signed your name. What do you mean by that?”
“It’s simple,” I say. It really is. But I live my life inside a paradox.
“I love to kill, Sabrina. I love murdering victims with my bare hands. I love it when blood runs down my palms and fingers, and I love how warm and thick it feels when I take a sip of it. I love hearing my victims squeal when my knife inches deep inside their organs. I love burying bodies. I love that euphoric moment when I complete my months’ worth of killing spree. I love everything about it.
“But I also love you, Sabrina. You’re the woman that completes me. As much as I love killing other women, you’re the only one I can never hurt. And I never want to place you in danger.
“I know you’ll never approve of my lifestyle, and I understand that. Now do you see my dilemma? I don’t wanna lose either one of you. I want to preserve you both, but I can’t. If I gain one, I lose the other. So I came to a decision that will satisfy me, and will leave me at peace.” I close the door behind me, and switch the lock in place.
Sabrina looks at me flabbergasted. She drops the note from her hand. The paper sways in the air, billowing back and forth until it lands on the floor. I lock my eyes at my wife. She tries her best to look away, but the few times she glances at me I trap her in my gaze. Horror takes over her. Her arms and legs tremble. She struggles to breathe as if the air in her lungs vanished. I never seen such a more beautiful victim before.
“What do you mean leave you at peace?” She stutters. “What do you plan on—on doing?”
I can’t live without killing people, or having Sabrina in my life. But I love my wife so much that it hurts me to keep the truth from her. I came to a final decision. It’s the only and best choice.
If I lose one, the other must go too.
“Just be quiet, honey,” I say, and take the pair of scissors resting on our night stand. “It’ll all be over soon enough.”
Written by Thesplitpersonality710