Monday, March 5, 2007

BLOG SHORT STORY PROJECT 3 (This time, it's for real!)

“How Does it Feel?”
Her back gate is unlocked, so I let myself in.

No porch light. No moon. Just pitch-black night and the sound of my boots sinking into wet grass.

A dim light glows inside. Not from a bedroom or a kitchen, but from a hallway. The kind of light you leave on all night while you’re tucked under the covers. Did she leave it on for me?

I shrug off my backpack and pull out the gear—raincoat, rubber gloves, shower cap. I don’t plan on leaving any hair or prints behind for the CSI guys.

I suit up and catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a window. I look fucking ridiculous. Not a bit scary at all.

Until I slip out the knife.

The key is under the mat, right where she said it would be. I open the back door and let the darkness follow me inside.

*

Her email came after my Thursday blog post.

“You ever do any of that stuff for real?” she asked.

I waited the better part of an hour before answering her, taking time to consider my response. All I came up with was…“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

More emails followed. My blog fascinated her, she said. Horrible and beautiful, she called it.

Weeks went by. Months. She sent two, sometimes three messages each day. Without ever hearing her voice, I got to know her dreams… her nightmares.

More and more, I began to write the blogs for her. The blood, the pain, the shadows of my mind—it was all for her and no one else.

Somewhere along the way, I confided in her. Told her I was a fake. Told her the blog was nothing but made-up stories. Big lies and a dark imagination from a guy who barely left his house.

After that, I didn’t hear a word for three days.

Then a single email appeared on my screen, with a single question inside.

“Don’t you wonder how it feels?”

Right then, I knew I loved her. And someday soon, I knew I was going to kill her.

*
Light from the hall seeps into her bedroom, drawing a yellow slash across her face. I leave the door open and go to her. Her eyes stay shut.

Getting closer, I drink her in. She described herself, but the picture in my head wasn’t complete. Her emails couldn’t recreate that dimpled chin or the soft cheeks. She’s an angel. My angel—frail with a rough, shaved head and a nightstand full of pills.

I cover her mouth, watch the eyes snap wide. My palm suffocates a cry of panic.

It’s a crime to cut that soft flesh, but I do it. The blade slides along her throat, opening it to the world. Blood bubbles out. The bubbles turn to squirts, and a white wall becomes a crimson Jackson Pollock.

She struggles beneath me, a fighter to the end. In time, she goes still and her eyes lose their light.

Now, I know what it’s like, and my world will never be the same.

“Sleep well,” I say.

Then, behind me, I hear the cocking of a pistol and the little room fills with thunder.
*

“I’m sick.” It was an instant message, her words glowing blue in the dialogue box. “The kind of sick you don’t come back from.”

I’d been waiting for this. My fingers felt like thick slabs of meat, too clumsy for the keyboard. “How long have you known?”

“I’ve always known. Even before us. But you knew too, didn’t you? You knew I was sick.”

I let her words hang on the screen for a moment. Then I punched the keys. “Tell me what you want.”

“It hurts, dying like this.”

“Tell me what you want,” I repeated.

So she did.

She told me her story. A young sister to take care of. A life insurance policy that wouldn’t pay out for preexisting conditions. A world of pain and a dream of release.

I read every word like they were etched in stone. My veins slithered, filling with adrenaline.

“Besides,” she typed at last. “Don’t you wonder how it feels?”

*

My knife clatters to the floor. I pitch forward and sink to my knees. Something hot and sharp is lodged in my back. The pain is like nothing I’ve ever felt.

More thunder. An alien chunk of my brain screams, “Gunshot.” But it’s too late for warnings.

I sit down hard and my vision goes red and hazy. I close my eyes, just for a moment. When the haze clears, I’m lying on my side, staring at shoes.

“So?” says a voice—the shoes’ owner. “How does it feel?”

I strain to look up. A woman stands over me, gun in hand. She’s got baby soft cheeks and a dimple in her chin. Just like my angel. But there’s color to her skin and a head full of healthy black hair.

“You’re the sister?” I ask.

She shrugs. “Actually, she’s the sister.”

“I don’t…” Blood clogs my throat, making me hack. “I don’t understand.”

The woman nods at the corpse on the bed. “She was the sick one, the one with the insurance policy.”

“Yes. She told me all about it.”

The gunwoman shakes her head, looking very small and sad. “You don’t get it. She’s the sick one. Me? I’m the one who reads blogs.”

My lips tremble. I want to speak, but the words won’t come. A slow cold snake wraps itself around my spine, freezing everything it touches.

“You never answered my question,” says the woman. Her voice is small and distant now. “But that doesn’t matter, does it? I guess I’ll know how it feels soon enough.”

She raises the pistol and shuts one eye tight, and I can’t tell if she’s taking aim or winking at me like we share a secret.

Mike MacLean

Blog Short Story Participants: