The Fallowing – The Sixth, Part IV
by Steppen Sawicki
“He set me down, but didn’t release me. But I couldn’t have moved even if he had. His eyes held me, and they glowed red and bright, but distant, like the lights of a train far off that was approaching but you couldn’t leave the tracks, couldn’t even think to move. ‘You love this Corrie?’
“I didn’t wait to answer this time. ‘Yes, I love her.’
“’And you hate her?’ He smiled, a thin and terrible smile. It should have driven me mad but instead I felt an affinity with that smile, with that anger.
“’Yes,’ I said. And I did, I hated her more than I had ever hated anything. He had shown me this.
“He put something in my hand. I looked down, and saw it was a knife. For the barest second I felt regret that it was not the same knife I had been using all this time, because that would be right, that would be fitting. But then that rage washed over the thought and I realized it didn’t matter. So long as the emotion was behind it, any knife would do.
“When I looked up he was gone.
“I waited for her there, hiding in the alleys on the street. I knew she would be back, as certain as I knew the haze would still be covering the sky come morning. I could have gone to her house but something in my head, maybe this new man, told me to wait, to be patient. So I did, and I was, and I was rewarded with the sight of her, beautiful and cold and God how I hated her. How she would deserve it! She came out with you and went to the diner with you and I watched her talk and laugh through the window. I saw how her hair fell over her shoulders and how those shoulders tipped forward over the table as she smiled, and I loved her. And I hated her. Because she was happy without me. She thought she was better off without me. After I worked so hard, so hard to show her how much she meant to me. Her lips would part and her teeth would show and they would be white and dazzling, and she would be so, so happy.
“I hated that.
“I followed her when she left the diner, keeping far back because I knew her way home. When she stepped onto the train I was able to jump on the adjacent car and keep an eye on her through the windows. She adjusted her scarf and ran her fingers through her hair and pulled it back, letting it spill down her back, and I wanted to reach through the windows and snatch her hair, bend back her neck and set the blade of the knife against that pale pulse.
“She got off at her stop and so did I. She didn’t even look behind herself as I followed her, so secure in the knowledge that Amnon was gone but so ignorant of the fact that this other man was alive and well and so was I. The wind was in my favor, throwing my footfalls to my back, and I could hear hers, boots crunching on the packed snow. She hummed now and again, the sound drifting down the twist and turn of her scarf and hair and along the breeze to me. God, how that hurt, to hear how happy she was, happy and safe and never knowing how much that hurt me. But it didn’t hurt me, not really. I felt only the rage now, like a healing bandage over an open wound. I was swimming in it, letting it fill my head, drowning until I nearly jumped on her in the crowd with people passing us. But the voice in my head said wait, wait, and I knew it was right. Because we needed to be alone. This was just between us. This was just me and her.
“So I waited until the stores thinned out, until the crowds thinned out, until the air thinned out because I could barely breathe I was so filled with hate and anger and purpose. Down Miller Street where there were just houses, huddled close together but just houses, and probably most of them empty with people gone to work and shop and meander. I walked closer behind her and still she didn’t look around, lost in her own thoughts, so satisfied and full of herself, her own thoughts with nothing of me in them.
“I spoke her name and she spun around, surprise and horror on her face. I still had the knife in my pocket; her horror was just for the sight of me, me interrupting her thoughts of her own self, conceited, shutting me out.
“I had done so much for us, and she had ruined it all. It was as if everything I had done had been erased, and she was just writing herself all over the clean slate. Her. Her. Her. The bitch.
“’What are you doing here?’ she moaned, as if my being there and intruding on her thoughts pained her. I saw the bandage over her eye, her healing eye, and I thought I did that have you forgotten?
“’What is it you think of me?’ I asked. “Do you think of me?’
“I walked towards her, and she backed away from me, threatening to break into a run. Her face was wide and wounded. I wondered if she would cry out for help.
“But suddenly she stopped. Her face hardened and she glared at me as if I was nothing before her but a worm or cockroach.
“’It’s over between us,’ she said, her voice dripping with contempt. ‘You can’t hurt me anymore. Your outlet is gone, and if you could hurt me without it you would have done so long ago.’
“I stopped too. She was right – that outlet was gone. Amnon was no more. But she was also wrong. I could hurt her, better and more thoroughly than I ever had before. Because now I knew how much I hated her, how angry she made me in her self-importance, in her thoughts of a future without me, safe without me.
“I could show her what she deserved. I told her so.
“I smiled, and her own expression faltered.
“I brought out the knife. And she did scream, but not for long.”