© Ayla-Monic McKay, 2004

Anna Crowell was the most beautiful girl in the world. I loved her. She was the only reason I lived. I was addicted and she was my drug. She was perfect, everything anyone would ever want. And she was kind to me. She always said hello when I passed by her in the hallway, and she always smiled at me.
That's how I knew that she loved me, too. I didn't tell anybody; it was obvious that she wanted to keep her feelings a secret. She never even said anything to me out loud, but I knew. She couldn't hide it from me. She was my soulmate.

She was standing by the front doors of the school just as I was leaving. I glanced up and quickly smiled up at her. She didn't notice though; she was trying to get her cell phone to work, banging on the battery pack and holding it up to her ear.
I stopped walking. Swallowing hard, I got up the nerve to speak. "Is your battery dead?" I asked.
She looked up at me, surprised. "Oh, hey, Adam," she said, smiling. My heart jumped. She sighed and looked back at the cell phone. "Yeah. I haven't been able to charge it for the past couple days, I lost my charger, and I'm supposed to call my brother to come pick me up, and all my friends have already left, since they thought I was getting a ride and -"
"Well, I could give you a ride," I said carefully.
"You drive?" she asked, suddenly looking hopeful. I nodded. "Oh, wow, thanks Adam, that would be great." She smiled at me again. I smiled back, feeling very pleased with myself.
"Uh, my car, it's just over there," I said, pointing and starting to head towards the school parking lot, making sure she was following me.
"My place is over on the other side of town," she said as I pulled out of the parking lot. I nodded.
"Okay. But, um, we just have to stop quickly at my place. I have to let the dog out," I explained.
"Okay, cool."

I pulled into the driveway of my house, which was about halfway between the school and Anna's house. "Do you - Do you want to come in? I'll just be a minute," I said.
"Yeah, okay." She unbuckled herself and followed me into the house.
I could feel my stomach tying itself in knots. I had waited for this chance for what seemed like forever. She followed me as I headed down the front hallway.
"So, uh, what kind of dog do you have?" she asked as we walked into the kitchen. I unhooked a long rope from a hook on the wall. She looked at it in surprise.
"It's what I use to tie him outside," I explained quickly. "He's uh, a german shepherd."
"Oh. Where is he?"
I swallowed. Why was she asking so many questions? Didn't she trust me?
"Downstairs. He stays downstairs when nobody's home."

She followed me down into the basement, which my parents had converted into my bedroom. I had hung up large sheets next to the stairs to keep them out of my area and still allow them access to the switch breaker and furnace and water heater. I pushed through the sheets and Anna followed me in.
"Um, where is he?" she asked.
I pulled the chain on the light bulb in the middle of the ceiling, and she gasped.
"Do you like it?" I asked.
My walls are covered in pictures I've taken of her for the past two years. Hundreds of pictures. I could never throw out any, she's too perfect for that. There weren't any shots of her that weren't as good as the others. I also had a map on one wall, marking the different routes to her house, from different places. I'd walked and driven all of them.
"What the hell is this?" Anna asked, turning and staring at me. I was confused.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "Don't you like it?"
"Like it?" she yelled. "Why would I like it!"
I blinked in surprise. "Well, because- because it shows how much I love you. I thought you'd like it. I know you love me, why don't you like it?"
Anna stared at me with disbelief written all over her face. "Okay, Adam," she said slowly. "I'm going to leave now. I won't tell anybody about this, as long as you promise to leave me alone. And stop taking pictures of me."
It felt like she had punched me in the gut. "Anna, what are you talking about?" I asked, taking a step toward her. She quickly backed up. "Anna?"
"Adam, you need help," she said quietly. Watching her, I saw her eyes shift back and forth, and then stop when she saw the small gap between the sheets. I quickly moved in between her and the sheets.
"No, Anna, I don't need help. I need you. And you need me. It's okay, I won't tell anybody. But you don't have to hide it from me anymore."
"Adam, I don't know what you're talking about," she said. Her voice sounded shaky; she was scared.
"Don't be scared, Anna. I love you. I'd never hurt you. Don't you know this?"
She hesitated and then she bolted, tried to get around me. I caught her. Why was she running? Didn't she know that she could tell me now? Nobody would ever know, I wouldn't tell anybody. We could be together. I said as much to her, as I started to pull her over to the far end of the basement. She was kicking and had started to scream. I couldn't understand why she didn't understand.
I brought her over to my bed and sat her down. She tried to run away again, so I held her down and began to tie her hands behind her back with the rope from the kitchen.
I was very good at tying knots. My grandfather had been a fisherman and taught me how to tie all sorts of knots.
When I had her hands tied, I tied her legs, so she would stop kicking.
She was crying now, and I felt sad. "Anna, don't cry," I pleaded, sitting next to her. "I don't want to make you cry. I'm just protecting you. You'll hurt yourself with all your kicking and flailing. I don't want you to hurt yourself."
"I'm going to scream and scream and scream, and somebody will hear me, and get me. You won't get away with this, you fucking sicko!" she screamed.
I swallowed hard. She didn't really mean that. She was just scared. She didn't mean that. I had to stop her from saying things like that. I got up and got a piece of cloth, which I used to gag her. This only made her cry more, and my heart felt like it was breaking. I hated seeing her so scared and vulnerable, but I had no choice but to do this.
"I'll bring food down soon."

I took very good care of Anna. I took such good care of Anna. I brought her breakfast before I went to school, and when I came home for lunch I brought her lunch, and I brought her supper, too.
My parents were only ever home at night, so I didn't have to worry about them finding her. I knew they wouldn't understand. If Anna herself didn't understand, who would?
People started looking for her right away. She was perfect, so everybody missed her. I understood that. But I couldn't tell them I had her, because they would take her away from me and then we couldn't be together.

About a week after, I was sitting with her after school and telling her about what I was learning in our classes. We had had all the same classes, and I didn't want her to fall behind, so I tried to keep her up-to- date. I had taken out the gag for the moment, so she could talk. I had made her promise not to yell or scream.
"Adam, I need to go to the bathroom," she said quietly. I looked up from the history text book I was reading from.
"Okay," I said. I untied her legs and picked up the jackknife I had had to use to get her to cooperate. I never touched her with it, but it was the only way to keep her from doing something that would get us separated from each other. I couldn't allow that, so sometimes extreme measures had to be taken. I also re-gagged her.
I led her upstairs to the bathroom and followed her into it. I had explained to her at the beginning that I couldn't leave her alone, even to go to the bathroom, so she would just have to pretend I wasn't in there with her. She peed and then washed her hands, and I began to lead her back to the basement.
We were passing through the kitchen when I heard the front door close. I grabbed Anna close and showed her the knife to stop her from trying anything.
I tried to walk us quietly to the basement door, but Anna accidentally kicked over a plant pot.
"Adam, is that you?" I heard my mother call.
I swore under my breath and scrambled to get to the basement door.
My mother beat me there, by going through the living room. She dropped her bag and stared in shock when she saw Anna.
"Adam, what are you doing?" she asked. Anna started to scream through the gag and kick out. She squirmed so hard that she broke out of my grasp and she ran to my mother. I gripped the jackknife tighter in my fist.
"Mom, why?" I asked, as she started trying to untie Anna's ropes. "You weren't supposed to come home now, you don't come home until around seven!" I lunged forward before she could untie Anna and brandished the knife. I couldn't let her take Anna from me.
"Adam, something is wrong with you. You can't do this!" Mom cried.
"I love her! And she loves me! We have to be together! I won't let you take her from me!" I yelled. I grabbed Anna and pulled her back into my arms. I held the knife up to her throat. Anna started to cry. "See?" I yelled. "Now you've made her cry! You can't do this to us!"
Mom took a deep breath and began to back up. "Okay, Adam. I'm sorry. Go on downstairs. I'm sorry." She stepped away from the door to the basement.
"You're not going to tell anyone?" I asked. She shook her head.
"No. I know you lover her, sweetie. I won't separate you."
Anna began to cry harder, but she didn't try to get away. I led her down into the basement and tied her legs together again. I laid her down on the bed and lay next to her.
"See?" I told her, running my hand through her long black hair. She winced, and I sighed. "My mom understands, why don't you?"
I lay with her for a little while. She wouldn't stop crying. I felt so sad for her. I wanted her to understand.
I heard a knock on the basement door. I got up and went to the bottom of the stairs. "Mom?" I called.
"Yes, it's me, honey. I just wanted to bring some food down for you and Anna, okay?"
"Okay," I called back up. I went back through the sheets to clear the textbooks from the table. I heard Mom start to come down the stairs.
Something felt wrong. Mom walked through the sheets holding a tray of sandwiches. She put them on the table and I eyed her up.
"What is it, sweetie?" She asked. I glanced over at the sheets, and saw movement behind them. I looked back at Mom, my eyes wide. "I'm sorry sweetie," she said calmly. Suddenly, she reached out and grabbed me.
"No!" I yelled. "You can't do this!"
Suddenly, policemen burst from behind the sheets. They had their guns drawn. Two of them pointed their guns at me, and the other two ran over to Anna on the bed. I started to cry and began to squirm from my mother's grasp.
I broke free and ran towards the police and Anna. I heard a loud bang. I felt a sting and a sudden heat in my chest. I stumbled and fell. My chest hurt.
Everything went black.