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AUGUST 26th





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Tonight’s the night. I’m tucked far into the corner of my dark porch, nicely hidden by the swing. The stainless steel butcher knife I bought is waiting in the bathroom cabinet. I’m restless. This has to go according to plan.

Last week Elise was standing in my kitchen when she told me about My Enemy’s business trip. The outcome of the promotion he’s up for will be decided based on the results of said business trip. She said she was planning a combined good luck/last-event-in-her-house party the night before he leaves. Elise’s lease on the house is up in the beginning of September. She’s moving in with him on the 2nd. She said she wanted to celebrate all the good things that are happening. She said a party with lots of food, drinking, and noise will be a good way to kick off the new direction their lives are going in. I declined my invitation, saying I had plans to see my sister and her family. I told her I’d come over the next morning with coffee and breakfast to help her pack up her things instead.

There was no need to fish for details; Elise was kind enough to divulge everything. She chatted away, planting new flowers in my backyard while I silently took note. My Enemy has to leave the party at midnight due to his morning flight. Elise said he plans on getting properly drunk and catching the bus home. The moment she mentioned the party My Other Self started scheming.

We stayed up three days and nights formulating a plan. We perfected it, we rehearsed it. I know where everything is going to happen. I know how and I know when, or almost when. He was supposed to leave the party at 12:00 on the dot. I’ve been sitting on my porch for the past forty-five minutes, waiting. He’s off schedule.

I swallow the lump in my throat. We’re an hour behind. I take deep breaths, focusing on steadying my hands. My Enemy better come outside soon.

A large slice of light and snippets of conversation and laughter bleed onto the sidewalk in front of Elise’s house. I peek out from behind the swing. My Enemy stumbles slightly out the front door, waving goodbye behind him. He stops a second, eyes adjusting to the dark. I smashed the light bulb in the street lamp early this morning.

“Let step one commence,” I whisper into the night. My Enemy stands on the sidewalk, bent over at the knees. I stand slowly and wait a moment before quietly opening my door and shutting it loudly to get his attention. My Enemy spins around and squints in my direction.

“Is someone there?” He asks, wobbling slightly. I clear my throat and step off my porch.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. How’s it going?” I ask. I wait a few seconds for the recognition to penetrate his alcohol clouded mind. Elise introduced us once. I was mowing my lawn and they were leaving her house. It was the worst two and a half minutes of my life. She’s tried to get us to all hang out together several times since. I always find an excuse.

My Enemy looks confused. I can almost see the wheels turning inside his head. He’d have better luck if he didn’t smell like a keg. When it dawns on him he smiles and offers me his hand.

“Hey man, Elise said you couldn’t make it tonight.”

“My niece got sick. I wasn’t allowed in the quarantine zone.” My Enemy laughs and stumbles.

“You doing alright? Do you need some water?” I ask, gesturing towards my house. My Enemy shakes his head.

“Nah, I’ll guzzle some when I get home.” He sways on his feet.

“Are you driving?”

“Nope. Bus.” My Enemy points in the direction opposite the bus stop. I nod slowly.

Offer him a ride.

“That’s not the plan!” I hiss under my breath.

“You s-say something?” My Enemy stutters.

“Do you want a ride? It wouldn’t be any trouble. I’m sure Elise would prefer it,” I say. A smile spreads across My Enemy’s face.

“Sh-she’s pretty great, isn’t she?” He slurs.

I clench my teeth and fists, “She’s the best.”

My Enemy mulls his options for a minute before nodding, “Why not?” My heart pounds. How do I get him inside?

Tell him you need to look up directions.

“Want to come in for a minute? I need to look up directions to your house in case you pass out.” My palms sweat profusely. If I can get him inside the plan will be back on track.

“I can get them on my phone.” My Enemy pulls his phone out of his back pocket and drops it on the grass.

“Whoops,” he laughs. He picks it up and fumbles his fingers over the touch screen. I sneer in disgust. Elise doesn’t deserve this pathetic mess.

You’ve been out here too long. Get him inside.

I feel panicked. This isn’t going according to plan. It’s all wrong.

“Come on in. I made coffee when I got home from my sister’s. It should still be hot,” My Other Self injects a velvety smoothness to my normally insecure tone. I lead My Enemy up the steps and into my house.

“Coffee sounds… good,” My Enemy fights to find that last word. His glazed eyes take in my living room. He nods with approval.

“Bathroom. Where?” My Enemy demands.

“Last door on the left,” I say. He sets his phone on the couch and trudges down the hall, unknowingly helping me cancel out step two. Perhaps it is a sign of smooth sailing from here on. I almost feel excited. And sick. I feel sick.

“What do I do?” I whisper shakily.

Tackle him, take the knife, and plunge it into his heart. It’ll be fun. My Other Self over enunciates the word fun. It makes my skin crawl.

Do it. Do it, do it, do it.

“Stop! I will! Stop saying that!” I smack my head.

Do it.

“Hey, do you have an aspirin?” My Enemy yells from the bathroom.

I lean against the wall, my heart rattling in my chest. I don’t know if I can do this.

You have to do this. I have to do this.

You have no other choice. I have no other choice.

Elise belongs to you. Elise is mine.

Go now.

I rub my sweaty hands on my pants. My body shakes become body tremors as I make my way to the bathroom. The door is wide open. My Enemy is splashing his face with water.

“What did you need?” I ask, my voice breaking.

“Aspirin. This is gonna hurt in the morning and I have a long flight,” He says, massaging his temples. He sits on the ledge of the bathtub and rubs his eyes vigorously.

I reach for the mirrored medicine cabinet and open it. The butcher knife rests on the bottom shelf. I freeze. How could I have forgotten? I slam the cabinet shut, but it’s too late. My Enemy isn’t blind.

“What is that? What do you have a knife in there for? That’s kind of weird, bro.” My Enemy’s hiccups clash with the instant wariness in his voice. I meet his gaze in the mirror. My Other Self reaches his fingers inside my mouth, stretching my lips into a cunning smile.

“It’s what I’m going to kill you with,” I say quietly. I turn around.

My Enemy stops hiccupping. He raises his eyebrows at me, “Well, that’s fucked up.” We stare at each other in silence. I reach a trembling hand for the knife and wrap my fingers around it. My Enemy focuses on the knife. His face pales. He doesn’t want to believe it. Despite the concern I see forming behind his eyes, he keeps his cool.

My Enemy stands and shakily rubs his forehead, “I’m just gonna go, I’ll take the bus.”

“I said this is what I’m going to kill you with,” I repeat, my voice rising in frustration and dripping with malice. My Other Self cackles in my head.

I tighten my grip on the knife. I can see the realization pushing through to the forefront of My Enemy’s fuzzy mind, the change in his face in the split second he truly understands he might never walk out my front door.

My Enemy blinks his eyes in rapid succession. Time stands still. We stay there, silent, staring at each other for what feels like hours. His eyes flit and flick around the room searching for a way out of this mess. I hold the butcher knife in an iron grip. He could never take this knife from me. Would he try? What if he does? What if he –

Without notice My Enemy lunges for the bathroom door. My Other Self propels my arm to the door and slams it shut. I catch My Enemy’s reflection in the mirror again. He looks terrified.

He should be.

“What the fuck is this? Let me leave!” He shouts, holding his hands out in front of him, creating as much distance as he can in a space so small. I steady my grip on the knife and flash a toothy grin. I take a step towards him. He staggers as he thrusts his arms out to push me back. His fist grazes my eyebrow before I knock his arms away and punch his face. He stumbles back against the wall holding his hand to his eye.

“What the fuck!? This is fucking messed up! Why are you doing this?” He screams, sobering instantly. His shoulders shake. My Enemy’s calm, drunken demeanor has officially disappeared, leaving nothing but a horrified, pathetic man behind.

“This is all part of my master plan,” I hiss condescendingly. “This is my justice served! Her heart’s not big enough for the both of us.” My body shakes with rage. My Enemy frowns.

“Elise? This is about Elise?” He whispers. His body trembles. I hate hearing him say her name. I hit the wall with my knifeless hand in frustration.

“You can’t have her anymore, she’s mine!” I shriek at him, the blood rushing to my face and pounding in my head.

“Don’t touch her! Don’t you fucking touch her, you psycho piece of shit!” My Enemy screams.

He looks so scared. This is getting exciting. My Other Self cackles. The shriek, the screech, the demonic giggle, it’s flowing through my veins, it pulses with my heartbeat. I want this moment to be over; I want this moment to last forever.

I laugh maniacally, “Nothing will stand in my way when you’re gone. Can’t you tell by the grin on my face?”

“No! If you even go near her, I’ll kill you!” My Enemy cries.

I laugh again, “You’ll kill me? You’ll never make it through the night.” I lunge forward the same time My Enemy does. His right hand catches the blade of my knife before I drive it into his stomach.

 

 

My Enemy stops short. His eyes water, his shoulders shake, his Adam’s apple bobs once, twice, three times as he tries to swallow. A single tear slides down his cheek; I watch it drop off his chin and onto the tiled floor. He follows my gaze downward.

My blood boils, my skin burns. I steady my grasp on the knife and step forward, burrowing it deeper into his gut. I push it in until all that’s left is the hilt. It’s not enough. I shove the knife harder. My Enemy trips over the ledge of the tub and lands in the porcelain coffin. I slowly withdraw the knife from his stomach. He screams. I laugh.

“It’s a good thing the party is still going. Elise will never hear you scream,” I laugh again. My Enemy’s eyes widen. I laugh harder, driving the knife into his flesh. He chokes on a mouthful of blood and spits it onto my shirt.

“That wasn’t very nice,” I say, keeping my eyes on his. Tears fall down his cheeks. This is the best night of my life.

“Leave her alone,” he whispers through bloody teeth.

“Elise? I don’t think so. She’s mine now, you pretentious fuck,” I whisper into his ear. I can smell his fear.

End it now.

I smile, “Okay. We can end this now.”

My Enemy chokes out sobs and blood, trying desperately to say something. He doesn’t deserve my listening ears, not like Elise does. Beautiful, perfect Elise with her chocolate hair and the hazel eyes that could stop traffic. Elise with the slender fingers and delicate hands, hands that will never caress his face again. Lips that will never kiss his, arms that will never hold him.

I look down at My Enemy. Blood bubbles from his gut, streaking my tub.

I shake my head, “Look at the mess you’ve made. That’s not very nice either.” My Enemy bleeds and cries some more.

“Shut up. Stop crying,” I say. My Enemy cries harder.

“Stop!” I scream. My Enemy shakes his head no.

“Stop it now!” I pull the knife from his body, raise it over my head, and sink it through his chest again and again. He stops crying and continues bleeding. I laugh as my tub fills with metallic smelling blood. I laugh as his blood mists my face and clothes, his life draining from the holes in his body. I can’t breathe through my laughter as I watch his soul take flight.

My Enemy’s foot twitches once, twice, before going still. His chest stops moving. The strong smell of urine mixes with blood as My Enemy lets go of the last claim of control he has over his body. His lifeless eyes stare at me. I stare back at them. There’s nothing left but flesh, bones, blood, and organs. He’s gone. I’m free.

I wipe the bloody spray from my face with my sleeve. The house is silent. The music from Elise’s lingers next door. I stand up and face the mirror. I look like I’ve been to war.

You have, and the war has been won. My Other Self paints a grin on my lips. Congratulations. I’m proud of you.

I look around the bathroom, feeling dizzy. I take a deep breath to slow my racing heart. The scent of blood assaults my nose. There’s so much red. All I see is red. I sink down, sprawling out on the tile inches away from a pool of blood.

Get up. You have to clean up now. You need to clean up for Elise.

My head feels fuzzy and black spots dot my vision. I close my eyes. I feel nauseous. I’m sweating and shivering at the same time, but I smile. Elise. I’ll see Elise tomorrow. She’ll be happy he’s gone. She’ll be relieved to be with me. She’ll be happy I saved her. It’s all happening tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of our lives.

 

 

Elise is so happy she can’t speak. She throws her arms around my neck, thanking me for saving her from My Enemy’s clutches. I wipe the happy tears from her face. My fingers come back warm and sticky. Tears are warm, but they’re not sticky. I look at the crimson blood staining my fingertips. My face twists in horror when I see the dark blood blemishing what was her tear-streaked cheek. More blood-tears leak from her eyes, painting a spider web down her face. I want to scream, but I don’t want to startle her. I don’t want her happiness to subside. The smells are overwhelming: the harsh stench of blood paired with her subtle orchid perfume. I might throw up. I’m going to throw up.

My eyes wrench open and I’m leaning over my toilet bowl in seconds, heaving with all my might. I leave a bloody print on the flusher; I stare at my hand and then at the carnage covering my bathroom. What I dreamt was Elise’s face is a puddle of blood with which My Enemy dirtied my floor. My stomach threatens to empty again. I wipe my hand on my pants and take another look around.

I made a mess. My Enemy made a bigger mess. His body is twisted up in the tub, his vacant eyes permanently focused on the ceiling. Blood leaks from the holes in his body. Bloody footprints on the tile tell the tale of our dance to his death. Blood trickles down the side of the tub; it pools in the bottom, slowly drip-drip-dripping down the drain. I’ve left several sticky handprints on the sink and toilet in the effort to pull myself off the floor. I’ll never enjoy the color red ever again.

I’ve never enjoyed the color red so much. My Other Self sighs. I shudder and look at my watch. It’s after 2:00 in the morning.

You’re terribly behind schedule. He’s right; I’ll never be able to clean up and make it to the lake before sunrise. I’ll never make it anywhere. There’s too much blood, too little time.

“Fuck!” I punch the wall. The drywall caves and crumbles under the force.

What to do, what to do. My Other Self mocks softly.

“Any ideas?” I shout. I pace on the small section of tile not tainted with blood. I can’t concentrate. I drop to my hands and knees. It’s a weird sensation against my skin, the mix of cold tile and still-warm blood.

“Fuck,” I whisper. What am I going to do? The lake is out. I can’t put him in the car, there’s too much blood. I can’t keep him in the bathroom until tomorrow night. I don’t want my house to reek of death.

You do have a nicely cultivated garden out back with plenty of flowers to help mask the scent.

“I can’t do that. Elise works too hard on it.”

Fine, keep him in the tub. She can have a nice reunion next time she uses the bathroom.

My stomach flip-flops at the thought of her witnessing this gruesome scene. My Other Self cackles. I didn’t think so. Now move.

I get off the floor and stare at My Enemy’s lifeless body. He’s too heavy to carry, but I can’t drag him. Too much blood.

Cut him up. Bury him piece by piece. Easy.

“What’s easy about that?!” I dry heave over the toilet. There’s nothing left but my demon. Once again I find myself surrendering my free will to his violent suggestions.

“What should I use?”

The hacksaw in the shed. It’s a bit rusty, but it’ll do. You only have about four hours until sunrise.

I slam the bathroom door shut and dash through my house, skidding to a stop at the back door. I turn off all the lights in the kitchen and grab a flashlight from the junk drawer. I slide the door open just enough to squeeze through. It’s quiet outside. Even the neighborhood dogs are silent. The lights at Elise’s are off now. The moon has taken cover behind an overcast sky; only a faint glow from behind the clouds lights my path. I wedge the shed door open and switch on the flashlight. The toolbox sits atop a broken patio table I’ve been meaning to trash. I grab the hacksaw and quietly leave the shed.

Once inside I go around locking the windows and doors and closing all the blinds. I pause before the bathroom door, wondering if the bloodbath on the other side will be better or worse than I recall. I twist the doorknob and push it open.

I don’t know how, but the scene is grislier than before. There seems to be double the stab wounds, three times the blood, and a smell that has amplified by millions. I drop to my knees in front of the toilet once more and hug the cold porcelain to my chest, gagging until I see stars.

Tie a towel around your face. It’ll help.

I grab a towel and knot it around my head, keeping my nose and mouth covered. I take a few deep breaths. In one breath, the smell of blood, sweat, and rusty metal. Exhale. Another breath, the feelings of regret, fear, and guilt. Exhale. A third breath, the twisted feelings of satisfaction, accomplishment, and sick excitement.

I pick up the hacksaw and take My Enemy’s arm in my hand. I straighten it and touch the sharp-toothed blade to the inner crook of his elbow. I press down hard, dragging the saw against the soft flesh. It sinks half an inch through skin and tissue. I rake the saw against his arm again; this time I hit bone. The sound isn’t terribly different from sawing through wood, yet it cuts me down to my core.

I drop the saw in horror and hurry out of the bathroom. It’s too quiet. The sound of the saw cutting the bone echoes in my ears. I feel sick, but I can’t throw up again. I can’t be weak. I need a distracting noise, though I can’t listen to music at a time like this. I need something plain and boring, something meaningless. I need late night TV. I need infomercials.

I run into the living room and turn on the TV. It takes me seven seconds to find an infomercial for the newest product in home-gym technology. I turn the TV up to a volume loud enough to distract me, but not loud enough to attract outside attention. I walk back to the bathroom and take my place next to the tub. I pick up the saw and vigorously attack My Enemy’s arm. Blood seeps out of the gaping wound. I go at it faster and faster, back and forth, back and forth. I pull on his hand, willing his arm to break free from his body and save me the trouble of having to finish. I pull with such a force that when his arm finally detaches the severed limb and I go flying backwards, spraying the walls with blood and bits of pulpy muscle.

I can’t waste time throwing up and I fight it with all I have. I blind myself to the gore in front of me and start sawing above the ankle on his right foot. My cool demeanor dissolves when I hit bone again.

“Oh fuck, I can’t do this,” I cry. Tears threaten to spill from my eyes, but My Other Self won’t let them. I feel him grab hold of the saw and return to My Enemy’s ankle. It smells like something’s burning, and the sound of metal grinding bone to dust is driving me insane. I focus on the infomercial coming from the living room.

If I call now I can receive this new revolutionary home-gym for seven easy payments of only $69.99.

My Enemy’s ankle separates from his body.

If I call in the next ten minutes I can get a workout DVD and a month’s worth of healthy meals absolutely free.

Next to go is his right arm. I’m growing immune to the stench of the early stages of decay, but not to the sound of blood gurgling and leaking from the stumps where My Enemy’s limbs used to be. I try to remember that this is all justifiable.

This is just what we wanted, which is why it feels so right. Say it!

“This is just what we wanted, which is why it feels so right,” I say through clenched teeth. My Other Self goes to work on My Enemy’s neck.

More conviction!

“This is just what we wanted, which is why it feels so right!” I shout, and with that I sever My Enemy’s head.

My jaw drops, the saw drops, his head drops. It lands face down in the blood at the bottom of the tub. I don’t make it to the toilet this time. When I’m through retching I throw a towel over the spot on the floor. I throw another towel over the mess of tangled, bloody body parts that used to comprise a single entity. A living, breathing, heart-beating, blood-pumping human.

Dismembering My Enemy took longer than I thought it would. I need garbage bags. I grab a few from the kitchen and return to the bathroom. One by one I concentrate on putting My Enemy’s limbs in the bags, twisting them up, double bagging them, and knotting them closed. I set them on the clean spots on the floor. I look through my watery veil of tears at the amount of blood in my formerly white bathroom. The walls look like a Jackson Pollack painting. I don’t know how I’m going to clean it all up; where do I even begin? I pick the knife off the floor and wipe most of the blood off on my shirt. I set it carefully on the ledge of the bathroom sink and resolve to come back to it later.

I wipe as much blood off the bathroom floors as I can with some towels. It doesn’t clean it up as much as smear it around. I’m going to have to completely repaint the door; the blood pooled and has soaked into the bottom of the paint-flaked wood. I grab some tile cleaner and bleach from under the sink and spray down the walls. I spray the floor and the smudges on the sink and toilet. I douse the tub with the bleach. I’ll let the cleaner soak and work its magic while I bury the bags; it cuts thin pink lines on the wall, and pools in a tie-dye of bleach and blood in the bottom of the tub.

I still have to dig a hole deep enough to fit all of the garbage bags. I gather two of them in my arms and leave the bathroom. A ringing phone cuts over the infomercial still blaring from the living room. I drop the bags on the floor and snatch My Enemy’s phone from the couch cushions. I press ignore, revealing the four other missed calls and three new voicemails on the home screen. I take a seat on the couch, delighted to see he doesn’t keep his phone locked with a passcode. I listen to the voicemails. His coworkers wonder why he’s not at the airport yet, and are fairly concerned about his willingness to skip out on this business trip, blowing the possibility of the promotion. I delete them and open a new text message. I write a break-up text to Elise, telling her the new promotion equals constant travel, meaning My Enemy doesn’t want to be tied down. I tell her their relationship is just not meant to be, that the decision of moving in together was made in haste. He wants to have fun on these trips, if she knows what he means, not be tied down to someone waiting for him at home. I tell her to save herself the pain and never contact him again. I tell her to let him go.

I pick up the two bags and carry them outside to the garden. I come back inside, switch off the TV and go back to my bedroom. I take the phone from my pocket and throw it on my bed. I’ll bet Elise can’t believe he’s breaking up with her over text message. I’d never do that.

I peel the bloodied clothes from my body and scrub the blood from my arms and face until they’re raw, trying my best to avoid the bleach soaked stains on the floor. I gather up all the clothes and towels, wrap them in the blood spattered shower curtain, and stuff them in another garbage bag. I throw on an old pair of gym shorts and a ratty t-shirt for digging. I gather the rest of the bags in my arms and go out to the backyard. I set the bags next to the other two and grab the shovel from its resting place against the shed. I survey my garden. How does one choose the best place to bury a body? I settle on the spot Elise and I were tending to yesterday. As much as I hate to dig the flowers up, the earth is still disturbed and out of place. I could bury the body parts and put the flowers back on top. It’ll have to do.

I dig for more than an hour. The sky is two shades lighter by the time I finish. The scent of the dewy earth is a nice change from the blood and burn of bone dust. The hole isn’t incredibly deep, but it’s enough to hide the bags under a foot of earth.

Once the bags are buried I go back inside, strip out of my dirty clothes once more and put on a clean pair of gym shorts and a white t-shirt. I take my last clean towel and wet it, rubbing off as much dirt and sweat from my body as I can. Dawn is breaking by the time I leave the bathroom, grateful for a moment’s reprieve from the morbid tableau. I’ll finish cleaning in a minute. I need a glass of water, or coffee, or something. I need a shot of whiskey.

I wander into my kitchen, rubbing my eyes. Through the window above the sink I can see lights on in Elise’s living room and kitchen. I look at the clock. It’s almost 6:30 a.m. She’s up early.

Her curtains are open, like always, granting me permission to watch. I stand there staring at the house for a minute before she wanders into view in her own kitchen. She’s wearing a light blue tank-top and black pajama shorts printed with neon colored stars. She pours herself a cup of coffee and leans over her countertop, mug in one hand, cell phone in the other. She takes a sip of coffee and puts the cell phone down, shaking her head. She runs her hands through her hair and paces a few times in front of the sink. She picks the cell phone up again and sets her head in her hands.

Go now. She knows he’s gone. She saw the message. Go make your move, go claim your prize.

I move fast around my kitchen, gathering containers of pre-sliced fruit I bought and a bag of chocolate croissants from the bakery she’s mentioned a few times before. I’m not supposed to go over for breakfast until 9:00, and I was going to pick up two coffees first, but what’s the point in waiting? She’s up, she already made coffee, and I want our life together to start as soon as possible. I put the fruit and pastries into a big brown paper bag, including a half-full container of orange juice from my fridge at the last minute.

I throw on a thin sweatshirt and tennis shoes and leave my house with the bag tucked under my arm. I head down my front path and walk next door to Elise’s. I finger brush my hair and wait. It takes a few moments before she opens the door.

“Good morning,” I say, smiling. She looks at me, a little confused. Her eyes are red and puffy. She doesn’t really look awake yet. She brings her hands up to the loose braid knotted over her shoulder and tugs at the end.

“What are you doing here?” She asks bluntly. I’m a little hurt by her unpleasant tone. I swallow my uneasiness and smile.

“Breakfast, remember?” I hold up the bag of food in my arms. “I saw your lights on and figured since I was up I’d come over. I thought we could get a head start on the packing early.”

“Oh,” she says. She pinches the bridge of her nose with her thumb and pointer finger. “That’s right. I’m sorry, I forgot,” she sighs. Small tingles of irritation make waves throughout my body

“We made this plan last week to make up for missing your party last night,” I remind her. I step closer. She steps back farther inside her house a little.

“I know, I’m sorry, but it’s not a good time right now. I can’t do this today,” Elise shakes her head. She sniffles a little and I see tears well in her eyes. I hate to see her cry.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her, concerned. She looks at me with teary eyes.
“I got royally dumped. Over text message,” She cries.

“Text message breakup. That’s rough. I’m sorry,” I say.

“It doesn’t make any sense though. I don’t understand. Everything went perfectly last night. Everything was fine. We were fine! This doesn’t add up to me,” she wipes her eyes.

“I hate to tell you, but we don’t make sense. It’s a fact of the male gender,” I say, smiling.

She scowls a little, “Girls don’t make much sense either, but at least we like to talk about things. This, though, this really doesn’t make sense. We’re moving in together in a few days! I called him as soon as I woke up and saw this, but he didn’t answer. He’s probably still on the plane. I need to talk to him. I need to ask him what the hell he’s thinking. Something isn’t right. He wouldn’t do that out of the blue. Something had to have happened. I need to know.” She opens the door a little wider and gestures for me to come in.

“Maybe it’s something you don’t want to know. Maybe you should just leave it alone and move on,” I set down the bag of food on the coffee table in her living room. She shuts the front door, crosses her arms, and turns around to face me.

“You’re joking, right? Why wouldn’t I want to know? He’s my boyfriend. We’re moving in together,” she over enunciates the words as if I didn’t understand her the first time. I wince. How could I forget?

She lets out a mean, short laugh, “Besides, I’m not going to just move on. I’ve devoted almost a year of my life to this relationship! I thought this was the big one. I know it is.”

“It’s not,” I snap loudly. I feel my face flush.

“Why would you say something like that?” Elise looks taken aback.

This is it. I have to tell her I love her. I’ll tell her and she’ll forget all about My Enemy.

Don’t do it. This is not the time. Listen to me. You won’t like what happens if you don’t listen to me.

“You’re wrong,” I tell My Other Self.

“I’m wrong? What does that even mean? What am I wrong about?” Elise throws up her hands, exasperated.

“Just listen. I know this is mean, but I’m glad he dumped you. You’re too good for him. He didn’t deserve you anyway. He didn’t deserve any part of you, but it’s okay now. I took care of everything.” She looks at me, confused.

I take this opportunity and tuck loose strands of her braid behind her ear. She flinches, but I was right. It does feel like satin. I tenderly caress her cheek and before she can respond I lean in and kiss her. The smell of orchids is overwhelming. Her lips are soft and taste of salty tears. She stiffens against me. I open my eyes. Her eyes are wide open in shock. She pushes me away.

“Stop, please. Why are you doing this right now? I don’t understand.” She says shakily.

“What don’t you understand?” I ask her softly. I take her hand again. She pulls it away.

“Don’t! I have a boyfriend,” She frowns at me. Aggravation seeps from my pores. I snap.

“No, you don’t! Because he’s gone! He’s never coming back. You have to get used to it. He. Is. Never. Coming. Back.” I spit the words out, frustrated at her lack of cooperation in all of this. “Why can’t you see this? He just wants to mess around, remember? So save yourself the pain and never contact him again.” My hand twitches with impatience. Elise blanches.

“I never told you what he said. How would you know he said that?” she asks quietly. “Why did you say that?” Her voice rises, agitated.

Leave. Leave now. You’re a fool. You’ve said too much. My Other Self is barreling around inside my head.

“I have to go,” I get off the couch and hurry past her to the door.

“Wait!” Elise shouts. I slam the door closed before she reaches it. I run down her front steps and cut across both our yards. I’ve only just shut the front door before she bursts through it.

“Hey! Answer my question! How the hell do you know what he said to me?” She yells at me furiously. My chest shakes with each breath I take.

Don’t let her know.

My tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth. I can’t yell at her to get out of the house, I’ve worked too hard to get her into it.

“I took care of him. He won’t bother you anymore,” I say ominously. Elise slams the door shut and storms over to me, jabbing a finger into my chest with every word.
“What do you mean he won’t –” she stops short. Her nose wrinkles in disgust. “What is that smell?” She covers her nose and mouth with her hand. She steps around me and peers down the hall in the direction of the bathroom. “What is that?!”

I step in front of her and grab her shoulders. “You can’t go in there.”

Elise frowns in horror with each breath of blood-bleach air she takes. She twists out of my hands and bolts down the hall. She only gets a few yards away from me before coming to a halted stop in front of my bathroom. The open door reveals the truth I never wanted her to see. Her shoulders go slack and she struggles for air. I follow her to the red stained room and watch the light in her eyes burn out. She’s frozen in her spot, hands thrown to her mouth. She lets out a loud wail before turning to me, her face conveying nothing but utter terror. I watch the light in her eyes burn out. I should have finished cleaning up the blood when I had the chance. Could have, should have, would have. She screams again.

“Stop it,” I say harshly. She keeps screaming. I rub my throbbing temples. I wish she would stop.

“What did you do!?” She cries.

“Stop it,” I yell, rushing over to her. A wave of rage shudders through my body. She shrinks against the bathroom wall still stained with cleaner-tainted blood. Her head is down and arms are raised to keep me away.

“Just listen to me!” I slam my fist against the wall next to Elise’s head and hold it there hovering over her. She stops screaming and huddles there, afraid and trembling like a leaf in the wind.

My inner demon is pounding on my ribcage pleading to be set free. My body burns. I rear back and drive my fist into the wall three times, crumbling the drywall. My Other Self needs to destroy something and I can’t let it, I won’t let it, be her face.

“You’re scaring me,” She whispers. “You hurt him, didn’t you?” Her body quakes with fear.

“Hurt him? Yes, I hurt him,” I laugh. “But it’s okay. Don’t be scared. I’ll never hurt you,” I say, putting my hands on her shoulders. She wrenches out from under my grasp.

“You killed him!” She screams.

“Baby, don’t scream, you know I did this all for you and me.” I feel anxious and annoyed. She’s not acting the way she’s supposed to, she’s not following my script. She’s not going along with this well, but the show must go on.

Tears spill from her eyes as she shakes her head in disbelief. She spots the blood-speckled knife on the sink next to the phone and collapses into herself crying.

Let me in. Let me take care of this.

Elise stops crying abruptly and glances at me, keeping her glassy eyes locked on mine. She takes advantage of the moment I take to try and decode the look in her eyes; she throws herself through the doorway, trying to get around me. I grab her around the waist and throw her back into the bathroom.

“Let me go!” She screams again. “You’re a monster!”

My Other Self cracks through my ribcage and crawls out of my chest. I feel him settle over my entire body like cool mist on my warm skin. There is no we, there is no he, there is only me. My blood curdles and my temper flares. I’ve walked the boundaries of sanity for her. How dare she?

Take her now.

“How could you call me a fucking monster after everything that I’ve done for you?” I spit at her. Elise cowers where she stands trembling and crying. I reach my hand out for her; she screams, pressing herself against the wall.

“Bitch, don’t scream! I said I did this all for you and me! You better be happy!” I punch the mirror next to her head, sending pieces of shattered glass crashing to the floor. Elise flinches.

“Why did you do this? Tell me!” She cries. Her eyes are bloodshot and swollen. She’s shaking like a leaf. “Tell me why!”

She doesn’t understand the things I’ve done to earn her love. I crack a smile, “Because I love you.”

Elise closes her eyes and releases a scream that makes my ears bleed. She has to stop.

“Don’t scream!” I lunge for her. I pin her against the wall and cover her mouth. My hands take up half her face.

Elise struggles against me; her warm breath tickles the palms of my hands.

“Please stop. I’m begging you. Be thankful. I love you,” I cry. She fights harder.

“Stop moving and I’ll let you go! Stop screaming and I’ll let you go!” I growl in her ear. She doesn’t stop. Her scream escapes my clutches when my sweaty hands slip off her mouth. I grab her face firmly.

“Don’t scream! I did everything for you!” I snarl. Elise’s eyes stay fixated on mine. Her face is red and stained with tears.

“No,” she whispers, trembling. “You did this all for you.”

I love her. I hate her. I explode.

 

I take her head and smash it into the wall.

First impact, a dent in the wall. She pleads for me to stop.

Second impact, a new stain of blood on the white paint. Her eyes beg me to stop.

Third impact, a sickening crack. After the fourth, fifth, and sixth Elise goes limp in my arms and I have to stop.

Her head lolls onto my shoulder and I see the blood in her hair. Elise falls from my arms, the back of her head ricocheting off the tile as she hits the floor. Blood trickles slowly from under her left ear.

I jump back against the sink gasping for air. My body, slick with sweat, shivers against the porcelain. I breathe deeply, frozen in my spot. I stare intently at Elise’s body lying haphazardly on the floor, willing it to move. I strain my eyes for a twitch of her fingers, a little rise of her chest to confirm she’s still breathing. I wait. There’s nothing. A sob forms deep inside my chest, threatening to break free. I kneel down next to her.

“Elise?” I whisper shakily, brushing her hair away from her face. I nudge her.

“Get up,” I nudge her again. “Please, get up. Get up, Elise!” I shake her harder this time. The blood is slowly pooling under her head.

“Get up!” I scream. With my hand I cup her cheek and face her to me. There’s no light in her eyes. She isn’t there. There’s an earthquake inside my chest; my heart divides into a million pieces. Here in front of me lies Elise with her unresponsive hazel eyes and her tangled blood-matted chocolate hair. Elise with her cooling delicate hands and the smile I’ll never see again.

I pick up her lifeless hand and I cry. I cry, I howl, I sob, I moan. I pound the floor with my fist. I shake. I writhe in agony. She was my life, my dream. I never knew the cost of my dream would be her.

Here lies my only destiny, my reason for living. Here lies my sunrise. Here lies my victim.

I can’t breathe. She’s right. I did this all for me.

No! She’s wrong. My Other Self’s exclamation rings in my ears.

I sit there next to the hollow shell that used to be Elise until the shakes and cries officially stop. I slowly pick myself off the floor. I look into the shattered remainder of the mirror on the wall and see My Other Self staring back at me. He’s shakes his head, disappointed.

It’s better this way. This was necessary. She would have been a liability. She would have told on you. I’ll fix this.

“No!” I scream. My body aches with every pulse of my heart, each beat a reminder that I rendered Elise’s heart still and silent.

The knife I stole My Enemy’s life with is on the sink where I left it. I pick it up and trace the blade over the veins in my right arm up and down. My Other Self’s eyes widen with curiosity.

What are you doing?

“What I should have done from the beginning. I can’t live bound by your embrace. You can’t fix anything. I should have known from the start there would only be a broken heart.” Fresh waves of pain crash over my body. I can’t take it anymore.

“I broke her heart. It’s time to break yours. The only way for me to live is for you to die,” I whisper shakily.

My Other Self screams as I grab his right arm. I press the tip of the blade into the vein starting at his wrist filleting his arm up to the elbow. My Other Self staggers on his feet. I slice open his left arm. He looks at me in the mirror, red eyes blazing, before falling into the sink. I tear my eyes away from the mirror to watch him die. There’s no one there. I wrench my gaze back to the mirror. He’s gone.

An agonizing pain burns through me and I look down; wounds identical to My Other Self’s have appeared on my forearms. My arteries sever, my tendons snap, and I fall to the floor next to Elise. I feel faint, I feel numb. I feel darkness. Blood oozes from my arms as I take her hand in mine.

There is no inner demon left to taunt me, to bait me, to sell me false hope. I am the nightmare that slowly takes over. I am the murderer. I will never see her pretty face again. I am a disgraceful, vile, evil, worthless creature. I can’t live my life caught in this lie.

Goodbye.

Goodnight.

 

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