She wakes again. This time she's sure. She knows it must be this time. She opens her eyes and rolls her head to the side. She moves her fingers and feels her hands. She adjusts her legs and they respond accordingly. Maybe not this time. She turns the light on and pushes down the purple comforters and sheets, swings her legs out of bed and cradles her head.
How much longer can she go on this way? Every night she's sure. Every night she is positive it will be the last time she lays down. She walks to the kitchen flicking lights on as she goes, her eyes scanning every inch of the house looking for any trace of him. There is none. There never is. The wood floors of her stairs are cold and creak under her weight. She's young, in her mid twenties with alabaster skin that is only broken by the many scars on her body. She wears a nightgown that matches her linen. It hangs to her knees with pink lace. It was a gift from several years ago. She wears it when she feels ready. But she never is. Not really.
She pours another glass of water and returns to her bedroom, turning lights off as she goes. She slips the nightgown off and lays naked in the dark. The feel of the silk sheets against her scarred breasts is a relief from the heavy cotton of her nightgown. She prefers to sleep this way and knows he will appreciate the gesture and may be kinder this time. She rolls onto her stomach and sleeps again. No dreams tonight. She won't see him again until she's ready.
During the weekends she stays home. Waiting for him. Today is no different, a Sunday afternoon. She's enjoying a book. It's "The Passionate Friends" by H.G. Wells. She's read it before, but she thinks once more to kill the time before she goes to bed and waits for him.
It's getting late and she's tired. She had three cups of tea and is letting the fire burn down. He used to sit here with her and they would discuss politics, love, fears, dreams and hopes for humanity. They discussed their plans to move to Africa. To help. She's a youth worker and he's a nurse.
They're in love and going to get married. She's pregnant but won't be much longer. She has no scars on her back or legs right now. None across her breasts or scalp. No broken bones or missing teeth. He brings her breakfast in bed and she's delighted to wake up to his grin and dark green eyes. He's lost in her brown ones and taken with the brightness and gentleness of her spirit. They're in love.
It's late August. It's warm and late. But they want to go swimming. There's a beach nearby that's usually deserted. They go for a dip and are on their way home. She holds his hand and stops, pulling him to her. She gets as high on her tippy toes as she can. Her lips barely touching his. She closes her eyes and feels the smile stretch across his face. He pulls away and pulls her hand telling her they should get home. Then it happens. The screech of steel. Her screams. His. Theirs. The flickering light. The blood. She wakes. Opening her eyes. Moving her finger and then her legs. She goes for another glass of water. Another night and he didn't come. She sighs and isn't sure if she should thank God or curse him. Why won't this nightmare end?
She doesn't know yet that it's the night as she removes her gown and lays back in bed. Turning the lamp off and looking at his picture for a final time. It's a still of them dancing together in the rain from the first place they lived together. She didn't notice it was 2 when she closed her eyes. He always comes at 3.
This time when she awakens it's different. She can't open her eyes. They're sewn shut. She can feel the stickiness of her own blood pour from the gruesome wounds on her face. Her hands are bound and she knows she's in the bathroom. She can feel the porcelain of the bathtub. She wanted it. He did too. They used to take baths together and drink wine. She knows there's likely a glass of it in here with her. She's about to die. She's going to be with him again. She feels around and finds what she knew would be there. A straight razor. His. The blade is opened and well within reach. She could use it to cut the tape that bounds her arms. But that's not what he wants. That's not what she wants. She wants to see him. She wants to be with him. He wants her to know she doesn't have to be. The blade is sharp and slices the veins in her wrists easily. The blood leaves her quickly and there's little pain. Not like when she saw him last. That time it burned. She still hears his screams.
They went swimming. She stopped to kiss him. The driver doesn't see them. The pregnant woman and her fiancé. They're in love. The driver doesn't know. He hits an oncoming vehicle as he lists into the left lane. The other car slides into them and pins him against a pole, crushing his intestines, and blood vomits from his mouth. He pushed her and saved her life. He saw the car when he pulled from her embrace. But he was too slow. The windshield from the drunk's car explodes on impact and the glass slices the majority of her flesh. She loses five pints of blood and receives several skin grafts. Their hands break contact for the last time as a ton of steel pins him against a hydro pole. He's dead and knows it. He can't tell if she's alive. He pushed her when she kissed him. It probably saved her life but the glass... the glass. It glints and reflects the light of the fire growing around him. He's burning. She's bleeding. The drunk died on impact.
It's early January. It's snowing. Her eyes are sewn shut. Her wrists are slit. The needle and thread are lying on the floor beside her. He's standing there. He's weeping. He didn't want this for her. She couldn't hear him begging her to stop. She couldn't see him try to get her to put the needle down. She couldn't see him try to cut the tape she bound her arms with. She didn't hear him scream in agony and collapse to his knees as she cut her wrists.
They're in love. He's dead and she's dying. He's crying and she's silent. She knows he's there but he doesn't want her to see him. Because when she does. She'll be dead too. But they're in love.