Working Through

Afternoon sun seared the exposed skin at the back of her neck in much the same way that she had broiled the steaks the night before. Although Connie knew the sunburn she was receiving was going to give her a great deal of pain that evening, she couldn’t stop what she was doing. If only she had remembered to replace her wide brimmed gardening hat after the wind had stolen it away from her a couple months back, then she wouldn’t have been forced to wear his useless ball cap that only kept the sun out of her face. He, of course, would have reveled in her forgetfulness, pacing around the patio behind her, berating her endlessly for her stupidity.

That thought caused her to stab the trowel into the sandy soil with more anger than she thought she was still capable. After all, she had made her way through all of the stages and had come out the other side with a healthy amount of acceptance. That’s what the therapist had told her was the finish line.

“There are five basic stages of grief,” the therapist had told her with a matter-of-fact nod. It was that nod more than anything else that had convinced Connie that all she needed was to get through those stages and she would be okay.

“The first,” the woman continued, “is denial, which I’m sure you can agree you have already experienced?” The therapist’s voice had risen at the end of the sentence, as if it had been a question that Connie herself should have certainly agreed with, but then she continued talking without waiting for a response. “The second stage is anger, the third bargaining, the fourth is depression, and acceptance signals the end of all that misery. There are no steadfast rules or timetables for how you will work through all of these stages. Some may last longer than others, but I am here to help you work through them.”

Connie hadn’t actually gone back to visit that woman again. That therapist had had a look in her eyes that Connie had seen endless times before coming from her husband, Mitch. The one that said, “You’re dumber than a box of rocks, Connie Stanfield. If it weren’t for me here to clean up your messes you would be sniveling in the corner wiping your nose on your sleeve like the baby you are.” No, she was done with that look for good.

Setting the trowel down, she pulled her heavy gloves on again and taking as much care as possible, moved the prickly pear cactus back into position. It was difficult working the sandy ground, but she managed to get it into place without any serious scratching through her long sleeved shirt. Wiping the beaded sweat from her forehead, she picked up the ground cover plants and tucked them in around the base of the cactus before filling in the rest of the soil. Her sense of accomplishment swelled as she looked around at all she had done since beginning that morning shortly after dawn.

“How’s that for not being a sniveling little baby?” She muttered, moving her kneeling pad down the line to continue the planting.

Of all the stages, anger had been the longest and hardest to get through; not unlike the sandy and somewhat rocky soil she had been digging in all day. In fact, since the night that Mitch announced that he was divorcing her, she realized that she had danced back and forth between the various stages and anger on multiple occasions. An emotional waltz that had left her at times begging him to reconsider and at others curled up under her covers in tears and misery, only to swing back around to such seething hatred that she was certain steam must have escaped from her ears.

It was during one of the seething moments, when she couldn’t bear to hear one more nasty word come from him, that she had sprinkled his steak with rat poison before then covering it with sauce. He hadn’t noticed a difference and had eaten with gusto, stuffing his face with the tainted meat and veggies. Connie had watched him as she slowly ate her poison-free food, thankful that he had stopped talking for once. Mitch had seemed to really enjoy his meal, at least up until the moment he began choking and blood had begun dribbling from his eyes. He had looked up at Connie with a pleading face, but was unable to put his voice to his request. Connie had smiled at him and took another bite of her steak.

Shaking her head slightly to disperse the gruesome memories along with the last vestiges of anger, she looked down into the hole before her. With a wry grin she pushed some soil over the dead face of her ex-husband and settled the last cactus on top of that. With a quick nod she thought, “acceptance is a beautiful thing.”

cactus

A Winter Scene

As the sun rose enough to peek through the trees, she stopped what she was doing to admire the beautiful winter scene before her. Like glittering diamonds on a jeweler’s velvet, the snow sparkled with gleaming brilliance everywhere the sun touched. Even in the areas where shadows still held sway, the snow took on blue and purple hues, as if the darkness wanted nothing more than to join in on the glittery dance. For a moment she was completely enchanted, enjoying not only the perfect, untouched areas, but the heavy laden branches of the evergreen trees as they stood like stately women covered in white mink coats.

When she had trudged through the heavy mounds in the dark, her feet and legs numbing to frozen sticks the further into the forest she plowed, she had only seen the menacing black beyond her flashlight beam. Now, with the sun and sparkle, her emotions lightened exponentially as she continued to dig beneath the snow, no longer focused on the cold. Of course, once she reached the frozen ground, she knew she didn’t have the strength to break the mantle, but that no longer mattered. No one would find his body for months under all the glorious snow and by then she would be long gone.

sun-peeking-through-snow-covered-trees

Hobbies for Psychopaths

Conner had marveled at how the kid met his demise with at least a degree more civility than one might have surmised from his outward demeanor. That in and of itself was somewhat redemptive for him, since very little ever shocked Conner anymore, but it didn’t change the end result.  The world had become a series of monotonous pursuits that carried the endless weight of predictability and threatened to drive him to the edge of insanity in slow, plodding steps.  As a matter of point, he had taken up his latest hobby in an effort to find the threads of fantastic that he suspected were still woven through the fabric of every day.  The fact that the kid, who was actually more along the lines of young adult, had displayed behavior outside of what Conner had expected brought the slightest hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

Although the punk kid – often called thug by society as if it were a title of some renown – hadn’t actually embraced the process, as perhaps his sour disposition and black-clad, death mongering attitude might have suggested at the start, he hadn’t cursed it either.  He had certainly been surprised, an emotion shared by the larger portion of Conner’s victims, but there had also been a small portion of regret and that was the thread that Conner could not help but embrace.  For a solitary moment in time, the idea hung in the air like the scent of flowers at Spring’s first blush, that perhaps the world was not as calculable as Conner had feared.  The fleeting thought faded as quickly as it had appeared when, as he slid the knife further into the punk’s ribcage and angled it upward, the reprobate had the audacity to utter a blood splattering, “why?”boredom-boredom-demotivational-poster-1225259054

She and He and What Must Be – the final act.

She stepped from the shadows, a tentative smile playing at the corners of her mouth, looking for all the world the shy and gentle creature she was often thought to be. He knew no different at first and thought she would be his savior, making noise through his gag and pleading with his eyes. She stepped up to him and nodded before bending down and picking up the fallen blanket.  With care and tenderness she slipped it back over his midsection, allowing him the small comfort of modesty. Glancing up quickly, as if she had heard a sound outside of his field of vision, she looked back down at him with panic etched across her face. He mirrored her emotions and began to struggle again, his eyes straining to see what he thought she had. When she giggled his eyes jumped back to hers with confusion filling their beautiful blue depths. She liked that. She licked her lips and smiled, giving him a peek of who she really was behind the facade that she showed the world. Realization washed away the confusion on his face, bringing with it an array of emotions she longed to taste.

Reaching out to him, she lightly touched the side of his face and ran her finger from his temple to his jaw. Such a strong and confident man with such handsome and virile attributes, she was compelled to hold his face in both of her hands and slowly kiss his mouth. Of course, it would have been much more enjoyable had he not been struggling and trying to make noise. She longed to feel his lips on hers, but practicality won out over romantic notions, so she left the gag in place and tightened the strap that held his head. Her need was becoming unbearable and still she tried to reach him, to get him to see her and the love that she wanted to share with him. With her hands on either side of his face again, she gazed into his eyes and whispered her feelings to him. She assured him that he was now hers and didn’t need to worry about his previous life, it was gone. She gazed expectantly into his eyes, hoping beyond hope that he would feel her, see her, know her for who she was and could truly be for him.

As every time before, with every man she had given her heart to, he stared back at her in terror with threads of anger and disgust. A single tear dripped from her eye onto his cheek and with it sealed his fate. Emotion slid away from her features as she took her hands off of his face. No longer filled with hope or anticipation, her stomach growled loud with an all together different hunger. Reaching over to a side table, she chose her favorite utensil and brought it up before her face, allowing him to see it. His eyes became wider than she thought possible as she laid the long, thin blade against his chest.

“I told you that you would be a part of me. It was just a matter of inside or outside.”

Her thoughts moved on to proper cuts of meat and the best roast sizes as she began to carve.

She and He and What Must Be – part six

When she had first noticed him, their eyes had met across the coffee shop just like a chance encounter out of a romance novel. Her heart had fluttered and her face had flushed, but his eyes moved on and didn’t rest on her again during the entire time that he had spent at his table. From that moment she was drawn to him and knew that if he were to look into her eyes again he would see her passion and his need for her would be likewise ignited.  She had followed him from then on, never very far away and always within sight. If he had he ever taken the time to notice, things would have turned out very different. She learned his habits, likes and dislikes, every little thing about him.  She knew where he lived, where he spent his leisure time, the names of his children, and how he liked to touch and even make love to that woman that lived with him. She had shared his every intimate moment; smelled his unique scent on his sheets and in his closet; showered with his soap and wrapped herself up with his robe. She knew what he wanted and how to please him and yet he never looked at her again.

She began making herself known to him, just so he would have the chance to look into her eyes. She even bumped into him once at the grocery store, but he didn’t even bother to mumble out a simple “excuse me.” When she began to doubt her own validity and question whether she could be seen by anyone at all, that was the moment he dropped in her estimation. He needed to be punished. He needed to be shown the depth of her love and mercy so that he could become one with her. He would be hers and she would see the moment that he realized his love for her in his eyes. There was no other option. He had no other choice.

She and He and What Must Be – part five

She watched him from the shadows, a habit she both enjoyed and excelled at. He was starting to stir which peaked her excitement and anticipation. The first moments for her lovers were usually filled with the medicinal grogginess that accompanied the use of chloroform, then came the confusion. Without fail their eyes opened wide when they discovered that they were not where they ought to be and that was always followed by their realization that they were strapped down. The struggling varied between them; some seeming to give up sooner than others, but they all pulled and twisted at the start. She particularly enjoyed the feeling of power that tingled through her with each awakening. Although he never noticed her in the weeks that lead up to his joining her, she knew that his complete attention would be on her from then on out.

Still, she watched him quietly from the side, moving only enough to enjoy the show, but not enough to catch his eye. He realized a little too late that he was covered only by the small, soft blanket that she had place over him, as his struggles caused it to slip off onto the floor. She couldn’t help but smile at the whimper that escaped through the gag around his mouth. Since she kept the workroom at a pleasant temperature, she wasn’t worried about him getting cold, but he still seemed upset about being stripped bare. His vulnerability pleased her as few things ever could. She had made herself vulnerable for him when she had first presented herself to him in public weeks before and now he proffered himself up to her, if not precisely willing, a gift nevertheless.

She and He and What Must Be – part four

He had slept peacefully throughout the first steps of her ritual, which did not escape her notice and earned him a measure of appreciation. Perhaps this time things would be different. There was always the chance that this one would realize his mistakes and lavish her with the attention that he had so long neglected. She slowly ran the wash cloth over his naked body, enjoying the firm planes and masculine angles that he had worked so hard to make perfect for her. When she was finished with the initial discovery and approval of the physical parts that he had kept hidden from her, she took a small blanket from a side table and draped it across his mid-section. Before moving to the other room and the next phase of her ritual, she ran her hand across his abdomen one more time – a small, lascivious grin curled the corners of her mouth as she bit down on her lower lip. If asked, she would be hard pressed to admit which phase was her favorite, but that one was near the top.

She and He and What Must Be – part three

It was an unexpected gift to find him sleeping on the couch several hours after his family had all gone to bed. With everyone else tucked away upstairs, she was able to move around downstairs, setting the scene as necessary, without alerting anyone or diverting from her plan. When she was ready she stood over him and watched him with a ravenous yearning that would have scared him had he woken up. Instead he continued to snore and appeared to be sleeping well enough, but she still placed the chloroform soaked towel gently, almost reverently, over his mouth and nose. He didn’t even so much as stir, which she found interesting considering the reactions of other lovers in the past.

With practiced ease she moved him to her customized hand truck, securing him with the attached belts, before moving him toward the garage. Propping him against a table, she took a last look around to be sure that she had left only what she intended to behind, grabbed the keys to his SUV, and wheeled him out to the garage, careful to close the door with barely a sound. She was thankful that he had the larger vehicle, which made transporting him much easier, plus added to the illusion that he had left of his own accord. Before long she was heading down the street, her prize securely hidden in the back, and an excited, almost child-like, grin stamped firmly across her face. As every time before, she had executed her plans with precision and professionalism so that she could truly relax and enjoy the stages ahead. She licked her lips in anticipation without even realizing that she had done it.

She and He and What Must Be – part two

Running her fingers over his favorite pen, she considered how he held it each day.  He picked it up from his desk blotter and applied it to whatever document he was working on without ever considering how miraculous and wonderful that pen truly was – much the same way he had passed over her.  She looked away from his ranting through his home, which she could clearly see through the large windows from her spot across the street, to fondle the pen and pay closer attention to it.  His hand had embraced that simple machine.  He often put the end of it in his mouth, touching it with his tongue or teeth.  She brought the instrument up to her nose, but couldn’t smell any traces of him, so she slid her tongue over the end.  She enjoyed the little flicker of excitement she felt tingle through her body at the idea of having her tongue where his tongue had once been.  Almost like kissing, she thought, as she flicked the end of her tongue over the tip of the pen and turned her eyes to once again watch her prey.  He had calmed down, retreating from his family to his office, and she watched him moving things around his desk.  Caressing the pen as if it were an extension of her lover, she bit hard on the tip of her tongue, drawing blood and wondered if his blood would taste the same.

 

(to be continued)