A/N: I've been having some problems lately. Nothing to do with this site in particular, or anything, but I'm going to change my entire online ID soon. That means I'll have a different name here. This is just an early notice. For most of my readers it shouldn't be too much of a problem, but just in case. I apologize for the inconvenience.


Spouse

My wife. Something, isn't she?

Her porcelain skin glowed in the moonlight from the wide windows, unhindered by the thick curtains that were now pulled back in the heat of summer. Her big, black eyes were liquid, and oh-so-innocent, as she stared at the ceiling lifelessly. Her wedding ring, with it's big quartz stone chipped where it was thrown against the wall just yesterday, glittered like a little star on her finger.

Another tear trailed from those wide eyes. I frown and wipe it away thoughtfully.

My wife and I had a beautiful marriage. I didn't need her, of course. It was pleasant having her, that's all. I never needed anyone. But she needed me.

Things were shaky for a while, sure. But I should have known better than to doubt our love. Why on earth would my beautiful wife not want me? Her words were no doubt just words spoken in anger, as fleeting as transient daytime.

After all, everyone loved me.

Children? Certainly not. I ran my hand down her flat abdomen affectionately. Children were dangerous. They couldn't be controlled. They were too innocent, and everyone was so fond of them. Why, they would be loved so much, so very much . . .

But everyone loves me. There was no room for my wife to love anyone else.

"You're much better this way, now." I say quietly, propping myself up on an elbow to gaze at her pale face. She said nothing, of course. She just listened. The ring glittered on her finger. It glittered, and glittered.

"See? Didn't I tell you I could handle it? Didn't I tell you I could solve all our problems?"

And at this a whim came upon me. I reached out, my weight causing the bed to creak, and gently gripped her head. I turned it up, then down again, then up, nodding. Yes.

"I knew you'd agree."

Another tear leaked out from the wide, wide black eyes. I sigh and wipe it away. I was so considerate.

That's why everyone loves me.

My wife is quiet, of course. She enjoys my presence. I move her hand up, her stiff shoulders shifting soundlessly, and caress my cheek with her palm. Her hands are cold, but the wedding ring is ice though the quartz looked like a little star. Someone once told me that stars were fire, the fires of God looking down to check on us. But that's wrong, of course. No one could check on me. My eyes close in bliss.

"I know. I love you too. Things will be fine now. You'll see. Now you're quiet, and nice, and obedient . . ." I think for a moment. "Just like everyone else. Isn't this better?"

She has nothing to say. But I know she agrees.

So we have sex. I hooked her arms around my head and propped her knees up, and like the perfect partner she stays in that position until I finished. And her big, big eyes never leave mine. But of course she doesn't stare; that would not be polite. No, there is no staring in her eyes.

In fact, there's nothing at all. There is no light on her except the cold moonbeams and the glitter, glitter, glitter of the little stone on her finger.

After I ejaculated I roll to the side contentedly, snaking my head out from under her outstretched arms. My wife stays just the way she is and I chuckle affectionately.

"No, dear one, I'm finished now. Thank you; that was quite nice."

And I move her limbs back down, and pull the blanket over her like the perfect husband. I am a perfect husband.

That's why she loves me.

I am such a good person.

Everyone loves me.

But not everything is the way I want it. My wife's eyes are wider than ever, and thick tears roll out like little pearls. In the dark, with the way the whites of her eyes show all around the pupils, I wouldn't be surprised if those little drops of liquid were in fact blood.

I reach out curiously. Those couldn't be tears, certainly. We just fucked, and I was being the ideal husband. I even said nice things to her. What on earth could be wrong? No, nothing was wrong. Nothing could be wrong. I made things right again.

That's why she loves me.

Nevermind that she screamed and wept daily before. It doesn't matter that she signed those papers and went to find a lawyer. It doesn't matter that she accused me of all those terrible things. She never meant it. She couldn't because she loves me. Everyone loves me.

My mommy told me so. And my mommy was always right.

But maybe I should ask mommy. Why are those little pearls coming from my beloved's eyes? And why do they break into nothingness when I touch them, as though they do not like me?

Everybody likes me. Everybody loves me.

Mommy said so.

I pick my wife up, and like a good girl she stays perfectly still, her spine rigidly conforming to the shape of the bed. I had a very easy time carrying her, like a block of wood. Her ring glitters and glitters.

I banged her head on the door as I walked out into the hallway. She doesn't say anything. She knows it's not my fault. Nothing is ever my fault. If anything, she should have prevented it. But like a good husband, I forgive her.

Mommy's room is right across from ours. I open the door and am very happy to see the silhouette, shaped like a person, cast on the opposite wall.

I was afraid, at first, that mommy would leave. After all, no matter which brush I used or how much I washed my hands before I start, blood could never stick to plaster very well. But she's still here. I see her slim waist, and thin arms, and wide hips. I see her face, though I cannot see her features. It's okay. I never liked her eyes.

Mommy's eyes would never meet mine. Even when she told me that everyone loved me, she never looked at my face. She should have looked at me, when she said that.

The crusty blood had flaked off a little around the edges. Mommy's hair was uneven. I made a note to fix that later. After all, I was a nice person.

That's why everyone loves me.

I set my wife down on the floor, helping her stand upright, her head bowed in submission, her hands folded complacently at her waist. Just like mommy used to do for daddy.

The shiny metal ring glittered.

Everyone loves you. That's the truth, I swear. My mommy's voice said.

I know, mommy. But there's a little bit wrong.

Nothing's wrong with you. Don't listen to them; they're just jealous. Everyone loves you.

Not with me, mommy. I'm perfect. But . . .

What you can do isn't evil at all. Even if you're evil, you're perfect. Everyone will love you.

I stood before the red stains on the wall, smiling and running my fingers through the rust-colored crusting.

Of course everything was fine. Why confront the problem? There was no problem.

My wife loves me, just like Mommy did. She always did. She always will. So there is no problem. I'm not hiding or running away. Not at all.

Thud.

Something feels wrong. But I am happy right now, so nothing could be wrong.

I can't possibly be on the floor, staring up at my wife's wide, wide eyes. That can't be pain in my chest, squeezing and stabbing. Her beautiful fingers can't be at my throat, hurting me. Nobody could hurt me.

Everyone loves me.

The ring didn't glitter. Something was wrong here. Why was the ring across the room, on the floor, dull and colorless? Why wasn't it on her finger? That couldn't be. That would be wrong. Nothing could be wrong. I was perfect.

The room swam. I looked up to try and meet my wife's wild stare, but behind her I could see the open window and the blazing stars. They were so bright, so hot. I could not look at them. They protected my wife from my gaze.

Why were the stars so hot? They should be cool, and still. I wanted them that way. Didn't they want to make me happy? Didn't they love me?

Impossible.

I hear a strange sound, like drums beating. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. Faster and faster. It's coming from my chest. It's thundering in my temples. I claw at her cold hands.

Now blood is in my mouth. It isn't pleasant. It should go away.

I can't see anymore. But those stars only burned more brightly, scorching my mind with white fire.

Thu-thump-thu-thump-thu-thump-

Stop it. Everyone will be sad if I'm hurt. Everyone will be sad if I die.

I see a dark figure. It is angry. Its fangs are bared in a snarl. It has red horns. It, too, is afraid of the stars. But the stars are leaving me, and now I feel a different heat. This heat is suffocating, dirty. It stinks. The figure is clearer and clearer in my mind. It's angry with me. Why is it angry with me?

You failed.

You monster.

But I'm not. I'm perfect. Everyone loves me.

Everyone loves . . .

That's it.

That dark figure must want to love me, too. That's the only reason it would have approached me. It would never hurt me.

They won't hurt you.

I know, mommy. I know. I'm a good boy.

Thu-thump. Thu-

Finally that sound is gone. And everything is quiet and still. That dark figure comes closer now, a terrible smile curling its nonexistent lips. Behind it I see a world of fire and brimstone. Huh, interesting.

I'm not afraid. I figured it out. That thing isn't going to hurt me. It just wants to love me. Like my mommy did. Like my wife did.

I stop pulling away and open myself to embrace it. Red eyes burn under its deathly black hood. Its fangs open wide, and I see a forked tongue.

And I know pain.

And heat.

And suffering.

In the darkness, my wife, black, black eyes stare at me. She's so beautiful. The only one I ever needed to love me.

Wait.

I . . . need her?

Ah, my wife.

She's something, isn't she?


In the next chapter . . .

Little Dora lives all by herself in her big house since her mommy and daddy died. Little Dora loves dolls. She collects them. But there's something wrong; no one ever sees little Dora in the toy store.

Everyone feels sorry for little Dora. They're sorry that she's so lonely in her big, dark house with her pretty little dolls. But Dora isn't sad. Because she's never alone . . .