This is just something that came to my head a couple of nights ago and I decided to put the pieces together into a one-shot and post it up here.
As I stare at my reflection in the mirror, taking in the tousled dark-brown locks that I only cut last week and the faint bruises on my neck and upper torso that are beginning to appear, I don't know what to do.
It's the first time in a long time that I've had this feeling of uncertainty. Even longer since I've had to admit a weakness to myself.
There is meagre reassurance in the fact that I still can.
I can see your reflection through the mirror, even though it's still dark out. The sheets fell away when I got out of bed to prepare myself; now half your body is covered and the other half rests comfortably splayed across the double bed, naked and exposed. Events from barely three hours ago flash unbidden into my mind and I shiver at the sensations that run through my body – I have to grip the sides of the basin to keep myself upright.
This won't do.
I'm not sure I can do this.
It took me so long to find you.
You even recognized me. Remembered me, from six years ago. When I bumped your shoulder whilst turning that street corner – I didn't realise you'd stopped – and your fruit fell from the bag and, like my mother taught me, I stopped to help. And I suppose it was when I tilted back my cap because I was weak and I wanted to see you more clearly, and you looked up to see who the nice person was who had the courtesy to help you after they'd walked into you, and you saw me.
You saw me.
You remembered my name. Remembered me, from six years ago. A moment of panic. Everything I planned… was it going to fall through because of a stupid mistake only a rookie should make?
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" I lied, fumbling with the last orange, fumbling to cover up the strange feeling. The strange feeling of fear and hope – hope that I could turn it around, ignore the job, and maybe… get to know you again.
Reaching for the face towel I've hung on the little rack, I hear you stir from the bedroom and my hand automatically braces itself. The reflection is too intangible, so I look over my shoulder and glance at you. Still asleep, but now you've turned so that your face is in plain view, and you look like an angel.
Really you do. You've always been an angel to me. Even eight years ago, when I was brooding Jennifer Staples and you were Ms West, you were an angel.
I guess I'm still quite broody at times. The moody, sullen kind of broody, not the broody that means I want to have kids. I can't stand kids.
I know you love kids. That's why you became a teacher.
And then, after I let myself meet you again, we became lovers.
He was angry about that. Angry that I let myself into your world – we're not supposed to do that, you see – but I always loved you. I knew you loved me too, but I knew it wasn't as much as you loved your career. I knew it wasn't as much as I loved you.
Maybe it's why I'm okay with doing this now.
I haven't stopped loving you though. I can still remember many things with you as clear as anything. I remember so many things. The first time I kissed you.
Stuff that happened leading up to the kiss is blurry. Who remembers things that only act as preamble? It prevents us from reliving the reason we remember the event in the first place; it takes away precious details from the most memorable aspect if we try to remember everything.
I was in your office for something. You sat in your chair, you were wearing a tight red sweater and black slacks, and I was leaning over your desk because I was trying to get you to listen to me properly.
"It's late, Jennifer," you said, and standing up made our faces come even closer together and I know I was thinking, do it now do it now do it now…
So I did. Your lips were as soft then as they are now, and the kiss was as hot as they are now, when my lips wrapped around yours and you didn't hesitate, you didn't pull away like I thought you would.
Other random memories fly across my synapses as I continue to watch you sleep.
Like that time you took me to your apartment for the first time and the elevator wasn't working and you decided it would be fun to make me work for it. We're in the stairwell and I'm chasing you, both of us laughing breathlessly.
"What floor?" I call out, lengthening my strides to three steps at a time so I can catch up to your one-floor headstart.
Seventh Heaven, I muse, and I can feel the grin on my face as I jump the final three steps to reach the landing and catch up to you. I snare you from behind and we tumble against the wall beneath the big brown '5' and collapse on the ground.
That was the time I realised I loved you. Loved you so much that I knew if I did what I had to do, you would leave me with an infinite loneliness that nothing can repair.
I don't know what'll repair it after tonight.
Will it be reparable?
Maybe later I can fool myself into thinking yes.
I can't change my mind now.
Bringing you here cemented the fact. Do you know what you're here for? I could read your eyes before, but now with this doubt, nothing is for certain. I don't know what you know. Perhaps you do love me as much as I do you, for you to come so willingly… or is it because you've allowed yourself to trust me so now you don't think twice when I assure you it's okay?
I can add liar to my resume now. Not that it wasn't there before.
"Jenny," I hear you murmur sleepily. I turn around in horror. You can't be awake, not now. But you're still sleeping – it must have been a dream – I don't know if you talk in your sleep; two years and I've never stayed long enough to find out.
I replay your whisper in my head. It's not unlike the way you've said my name before, especially tonight when we copulated so desperately, like you know what's going to happen, like this is the last time.
The last time we make love; have sex, fuck, whatever you want to call it. Shudders run through my body involuntarily when I remember the arching of your body deep into my fingers at the peak of your orgasm, as you grab at my hair and leave your mark on me.
I've always loved feeling your teeth on my skin. Has it only been four hours since your teeth closed over my nipple, since your tongue burned a trail down my chest and stomach, since your fingers worked between my legs and you teased me? You always teased me… always.
I loved it. I'm such a masochist.
And then we lay together, legs entwined in some sweet sorrow, and I breathed in the scent of your hair, your sweat, your musk as you whispered,
"Promise me we'll have this forever."
And I know my heart breaks in the empty silence that follows as you fall asleep, even as your arms tighten around me, and I wish you knew, and if you do know I wish you would tell me so that this guilt won't haunt me.
I know it will, though. Even if you know anything it'll haunt me forever. Because I love you.
I'll always love you.
It's almost dawn… you'll wake up soon. I have to do this now. I look at your reflection one more time and steel myself, because I don't want to do this. But I have to – if I don't, I might as well have shot us both.
It was my fault to let myself love you again anyway.
The metal is cool but not cold in my hand, and my feet are silent as I walk to you. I fleetingly remember walking to you like this before, sans the gun, sans this painful context. This is a good gun; it never makes a sound as I slide back the hammer – it's actually my favourite, the one I use when it's a close job.
I wish these second thoughts would go away.
I can't look. I don't want to look. I'll use the pillow with the silencer.
I used to laugh at news reports that said the killer shot their victim through a pillow, presumably to muffle the sound of the shot. But now I know that it's not to hide the murder – it's to fool yourself into thinking you have the strength to do what you have to do.
You sigh softly. It's a contented sigh.
Should I go for a temple shot or a mouth one?
Temple would be better. No brainer. What a pun.
As I hold my hand steady I'm surprised to feel that it's as unwavering as it is.
I pray for your sake that the next one he sends makes it quick and painless.