The Thought

We had fire in our eyes in the beginning.

-----

I was sixteen when I fell in love with Claudette Meyers.

She was the most glorious person I had ever beheld, with hair so gold it was almost white and skin that practically reflected the sun. Her personality was just as ivory as her beauty, a shining and untouched example of the possibilities found in innocence.

Claudette was fourteen when we met.

The first time I saw her, I loved her and vowed to have her.

-----

I watched her for a year. I longingly waited for a chance to prove my love to the only person who could ease my longing.

Then, one night, as Claudette walked home alone, she was overtaken by another who was just as madly in love with her as I.

I knew he meant to violate her. I watched from the shadows as he pulled off her top, exposing her ivory skin. He forced her into the dirt and began to tear at her skirt.

I could not watch. Her violation enraged me, and I attacked. I beat my rival senseless, nearly killing him as Claudette sat by and watched. When I finished, I put my coat around her and hurried her away.

When we took shelter in nearby shed, she looked at me with her aquamarine eyes and asked me one thing:

"Why didn't you kill him?"

Her desire to have me kill, and to have me kill for her, made me love her even more.

-----

When I was eighteen, Claudette was a month shy of turning sixteen. Since her rescue we had grown close, and I planned extensively for my final wooing on the night of her sixteenth birthday. Claudette was my idol, the god of my world. Nothing mattered to me, except for her.

Nothing could ever matter without her.

The night of her birthday, I took Claudette into her bedroom and kissed her.

At first she did nothing. Then she kissed me back.

That night, I made love to Claudette Meyers, and I vowed I would never be without her again.

-----

At sixteen and a half, Claudette befriended Bobby Martins.

I hated Martins.

I knew he meant to pursue her. He meant to steal her from me, even though I had branded her as my own. Bobby Martins meant to steal my property and that simply would not do.

Late one night, I ventured to Martins' house. I crept up the ivy on his wall and crawled into his bedroom window.

I stood over him with a loaded revolver and screamed for him to wake up.

When he opened his eyes, he had a look of sheer terror.

I told him never to see Claudette again. They were not to talk, to write, to have any communication whatsoever.

I told him if he broke the rules I would murder him.

He wept and promised never to speak to my love again.

The next day, Claudette mentioned that Bobby Martins would not return her phone calls.

-----

Claudette was only seventeen when I first had the Thought.

Bobby Martins had been out of the picture for six months, but I still couldn't stop it coming.

It came upon me like a thundering horse. Its existence beat within my skull and rattled my mind until I felt dizzy and sick. It seeped down the back of my neck and crushed my lungs so I couldn't breathe. Then it wound around my heart like a tightening vine and poured itself over my soul, putrid and blacker than tar.

It stayed within me from then on.

For months after it first reared its head, the Thought choked me when I least expected it, adding insult to the hideous injury it had already inflicted. With little warning, it drove its powerful fists into my brain and slowly destroyed my innocent beauty, my outlook on the world.

My ruined eyes saw destruction in Claudette's face too. I saw Martins' hands all over her, like her attacker so many years ago. I saw him making love to her like I had, and a white-hot fire burned within my veins. The Thought was rabid with hate and it drove me wild with its malevolent whisperings.

When I lay in bed at night, it would speak to me in a voice most pleasant, sharing all its brethren Thoughts with me, and I would writhe and scream and beg for death and the murder of Bobby Martins.

Then the Thought began to grow complacent. For nearly a year it disappeared from my life, a fleeting memory I hoped I would never revisit.

I was happier with Claudette then than I had ever been before.

But the Thought returned one afternoon, stronger than before, and I knew it had to be honored or destroyed.

I also knew I would never be strong enough to destroy such a beast as this, and so I sought to honor it and all its wicked family.

I invited the Thoughts into my life: Jealousy was my foremost guest, followed by his brothers Discord, Hate, Ugliness, Disrespect, Abuse, and Violence. They all ran freely throughout my mind – they took control of me and shattered me, but they took care to break me carefully so that when I was rebuilt, I would be a proper monster.

A monster capable of the murder of Bobby Martins.

One night, when I was twenty, I snuck into the home of Bobby Martins.

I drew the same gun I had used to threaten him years before, only this time I didn't wake Martins.

I just put two bullets in his head.

-----

It is Sunday. I am visiting Claudette's today. As I sit down on the couch in her parents' living room, I notice she looks upset.

I ask what is wrong.

"Didn't you hear?" she asks, holding back a wave of tears. "Bobby Martins was murdered last night."

There is a long pause between us.

"No," I say, "I didn't hear."

What a terrible thing.