Yellow Mama Archives

E. A. Aymar
Home
Abbott, Patricia
Aclin, Ken
Adhikari, Sudeep
Ahern, Edward
Alan, Jeff
Aldrich, Janet M.
Allen, M. G.
Allen, Nick
Allison, Shane
Ammonds, Phillip J.
Anderson, Peter
Andreopoulos, Elliott
Anick, Ronald
Anonymous 9
Arab, Bint
Arkell, Steven
Ashley, Jonathan
Aymar, E. A.
Ayris, Ian
Babbs, James
Baber, Bill
Bagwell, Dennis
Baird, Meg
Bakala, Brendan
Baker, Bobby Steve
Baker, Nathan
Balaz, Joe
Baltensperger, Peter
BAM
Barber, Shannon
Barnett, Brian
Bates, Jack
Baugh, Darlene
Baumgartner, Jessica Marie
Beale, Jonathan
Beck, George
Beckman, Paul
Beloin, Phil
Benet, Esme
Bennett, Brett
Bennett, Charlie
Bennett, Eric
Berg, Carly
Bergland, Grant
Berman, Daniel
Berriozabal, Luis
Beveridge, Robert
Bickerstaff, Russ
Bigney, Tyler
Blair, Travis
Blake, Steven
Bohem, Charlie Keys and Les
Bolt, Andy
Bonehill, L. R.
Booth, Brenton
Boran, P. Keith
Bosworth, Mel
Bowen, Sean C.
Boyd, A. V.
Boyd, Morgan
Bracey, DG
Bradford, Ryan
Bradshaw, Bob
Brady, Dave
Brannigan, Tory
Brawn, Jason D.
Brewka-Clark, Nancy
Britt, Alan
Brock, Brandon K.
brook, j.
Brown, Melanie
Brown, R. Thomas
Brown, Sam
Bull, Warren
Burton, Michael
Bushtalov, Denis
Butler, Janet
Butler, Simon Hardy
Butler, Terence
Cameron, W. B.
Campbell, J. J.
Campbell, Jack Jr.
Cano, Valentina
Carlton, Bob
Cartwright, Steve
Carver, Marc
Castle, Chris
Catlin, Alan
Chen, Colleen
Chesler, Adam
Christensen, Jan
Christopher, J. B.
Clausen, Daniel
Clevenger, Victor
Clifton, Gary
Coffey, James
Colasuonno, Alfonso
Compton, Sheldon Lee
Conley, Jen
Conley, Stephen
Connor, Tod
Cooper, Malcolm Graham
Coral, Jay
Corman-Roberts, Paul
Cosby, S. A.
Crandall, Rob
Criscuolo, Carla
Crisman, Robert
Crist, Kenneth
Crouch & Woods
Crumpton, J. C.
Cunningham, Stephen
Curry, A. R.
D., Jack
Dabbe, Lyla K.
Dallett, Cassandra
Damian, Josephine
Danoski, Joseph V.
Daly, Jim
Daly, Sean
Dalzell, Randy
Davis, Christopher
Day, Holly
Deal, Chris
de Bruler, Connor
De France, Steve
De La Garza, Lela Marie
de Marco, Guy Anthony
Deming, Ruth Z.
Demmer, Calvin
DeVeau, Spencer
Dexter, Matthew
Di Chellis, Peter
Dick, Earl
Dick, Paul "Deadeye"
DiLorenzo, Ciro
Dionne, Ron
Domenichini, John
Doran, Phil
Doreski, William
Dorman, Roy
Doherty, Rachel
Dosser, Jeff
Doyle, John
Draime, Doug
Drake, Lena Judith
Dromey, John H.
Duke, Jason
Duncan, Gary
Dunham, T. Fox
Dunn, Robin Wyatt
Dunwoody, David
Duxbury, Karen
Duy, Michelle
Elias, Ramsey Mark
Elliott, Beverlyn L.
Elliott, Garnett
Ellis, Asher
Ellman, Neil
England, Kellie R.
England, Kristina
Erianne, John
Erlewine, David
Esterholm, Jeff
Fallow, Jeff
Falo, William
Fedigan, William J.
Fenster, Timothy
Ferraro, Diana
Filas, Cameron
Flanagan, Daniel N.
Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
Folz, Crystal
Franceschina, Susan
Funk, Matthew C.
Gallik, Daniel
Gann, Alan
Gardner, Cheryl Ann
Garvey, Kevin Z.
Genz, Brian
Gilbert, Colin
Gladeview, Lawrence
Glass, Donald
Goddard, L. B.
Godwin, Richard
Goff, Christopher
Goodman, Tina
Goss, Christopher
Gradowski, Janel
Grant, Christopher
Grant, Stewart
Greenberg, Paul
Grey, John
Grover, Michael
Gunn, Johnny
Gurney, Kenneth P.
Haglund, Tobias
Hamlin, Mason
Hanna, J. T.
Hansen, Melissa
Hanson, Christopher Kenneth
Hanson, Kip
Hardin, J. Scott
Harrington, Jim
Harris, Bruce
Hart, GJ
Hartman, Michelle
Haskins, Chad
Hatzialexandrou, Anjelica
Hawley, Doug
Haycock, Brian
Hayes, A. J.
Hayes, John
Hayes, Peter W. J.
Heatley, Paul
Heifetz, Justin
Heimler, Heidi
Heitz, Russ
Helmsley, Fiona
Hendry, Mark
Henry, Robert Louis
Heslop, Karen
Heyns, Heather
Hilary, Sarah
Hill, Richard
Hilson, J. Robert
Hivner, Christopher
Hobbs, R. J.
Hockey, Matthew J.
Hodges, Oliver
Hodgkinson, Marie
Hogan, Andrew J.
Holderfield, Culley
Holton, Dave
Hor, Emme
Houston, Jennifer
Howard, Peter
Howells, Ann
Huchu, Tendai
Hudson, Rick
Huffman, A. J.
Huguenin, Timothy G.
Hunt, Jason
Huskey, Jason L.
Irwin, Daniel
Jacobson, E. J.
Jaggers, J. David
James, Christopher
James, Colin
Jensen, Steve
Johanson, Jacob
Johnson, Beau
Johnson, Moctezuma
Johnson, Zakariah
Jones, D. S.
Jones, Erin J.
Jones, Mark
Kabel, Dana
Kaplan, Barry Jay
Kay, S.
Keaton, David James
Keith, Michael C.
Kempka, Hal
Kerins, Mike
Kerry, Vic
Keshigian, Michael
Kimball R. D.
King, Michelle Ann
Kirk, D.
Klim, Christopher
Knapp, Kristen Lee
Koenig, Michael
Korpon, Nik
Kovacs, Sandor
Kowalcyzk, Alec
Krafft, E. K.
Lacks, Lee Todd
Lang, Preston
La Rosa, F. Michael
Larkham, Jack
Leasure, Colt
Leatherwood, Roger
Lee, M.A.B.
Lees, Arlette
Lees, Lonni
Leins, Tom
LeJay, Brian K. Jr.
Lemming, Jennifer
Lerner, Steven M
Lewis, Cynthia Ruth
Lifshin, Lyn
Lin, Jamie
Lodge, Oliver
Lopez, Aurelio Rico III
Lorca, Aurelia
Lo Rocco, Brian
Loucks, Lindsey
Lovisi, Gary
Lucas, Gregory E.
Lukas, Anthony
Lynch, Nulty
Lyons, Matthew
Mac, David
MacArthur, Jodi
Macor, Iris
Madeleine, Julia
Malone, Joe
Manteufel, M. B.
Manzolillo, Nicholas
Marcius, Cal
Marlin, Brick
Marlowe, Jack T.
Marrotti, Michael
Martyn, Clive
Mason, Wayne
Massengill, David
Mattila, Matt
McAdams, Liz
McBride, Matthew
McCabe, Sinead
McCartney, Chris
McDaris, Catfish
McFarlane, Adam Beau
McGinley, Jerry
McElhiney, Sean
McLean, David
McMannus, Jack
McQuiston, Rick
Mellon, Mark
Memblatt, Bruce
Memi, Samantha
Merrigan, Court
Miles, Marietta
Miller, Laurita
Miller, Max
Mintz, Gwendolyn
Monaghan, Timothy P.
Monteferrante, Luigi
Monson, Mike
Mooney, Christopher P.
Moore, Katie
Morgan, Bill W.
Morgan, Stephen
Moss, David Harry
Mullins, Ian
Mulvihill, Michael
Murdock, Franklin
Muslim, Kristine Ong
Nardolilli, Ben
Nazar, Rebecca
Nell, Dani
Nelson, Trevor
Nessly, Ray
Nester, Steven
Neuda, M. C.
Newell, Ben
Newman, Paul
Nielsen, Ayaz
Nienaber, T. M.
Ogurek, Douglas J.
Ortiz, Sergio
Pagel, Briane
Parr, Rodger
Parrish, Rhonda
Partin-Nielsen, Judith
Penton, Jonathan
Perez, Juan M.
Perl, Puma
Perri, Gavin
Peterson, Rob
Peterson, Ross
Petroziello, Brian
Pettie, Jack
Petyo, Robert
Picher, Gabrielle
Piech, JC
Pierce, Rob
Pietrzykowski, Marc
Plath, Rob
Pletzers, Lee
Pluck, Thomas
Pohl, Stephen
Pointer, David
Polson, Aaron
Power, Jed
Powers, M. P.
Price, David
Priest, Ryan
Prusky, Steve
Pruitt, Eryk
Purfield, M. E.
Purkis, Gordon
Quinlan, Joseph R.
Ram, Sri
Ramos, Emma
Rapth, Sam
Ravindra, Rudy
Rawson, Keith
Ray, Paula
Reale, Michelle
reutter, g emil
Rhatigan, Chris
Ribas, Tom
Richardson, Travis
Richey, John Lunar
Ridgeway, Kevin
Ritchie, Bob
Ritchie, Salvadore
Roberts, Paul C.
Robertson, Lee
Robinson, John D.
Robinson, Kent
Rodgers, K. M.
Roger, Frank
Rogers, Stephen D.
Rohrbacher, Chad
Rosa, Basil
Rose, Mandi
Rosenberger, Brian
Rosenblum, Mark
Rosmus, Cindy
Rowe, Brian
Rowley, Aaron
Ruhlman, Walter
Rutherford, Scotch
Saus, Steven M.
Savage, Jack
Sawyer, Mark
Sayles, Ryan
Schneeweiss, Jonathan
Schraeder, E. F.
Schumejda, Rebecca
Scott, Craig
Scott, Jess C.
Scribner, Joshua
See, Tom
Seen, Calvin
Servis, Steven P.
Sethi, Sanjeev
Sexton, Rex
Seymour, J. E.
Sfarnas, John
Shafee, Fariel
Shaikh, Aftab Yusuf
Shea, Kieran
Shepherd, Robert
Sim, Anton
Simmler, T. Maxim
Sin, Natalie L.
Sinisi, J. J.
Sixsmith, JD
Slagle, Cutter
Slaviero, Susan
Sloan, Frank
Smith, Adam Francis
Smith, Ben
Smith, C.R.J.
Smith, Copper
Smith, Daniel C.
Smith, Paul
Smith, Stephanie
Smith, Willie
Smuts, Carolyn
Snoody, Elmore
So, Gerald
Sojka, Carol
Solender, Michael J.
Sortwell, Pete
Sosnoski, Karen
Sparling, George
Speed, Allen
Spicer, David
Spires, Will
Spitzer, Mark
Spuler, Rick
Squirrell, William
Stephens, Ransom
Stewart, Michael S.
Stickel, Anne
Stolec, Trina
Straus, Todd
Stryker, Joseph H.
Stucchio, Chris
Stuckey, Cinnamon
Succre, Ray
Sullivan, Thomas
Swanson, Peter
Swartz, Justin A.
Sweet, John
Tarbard, Grant
Taylor, J. M.
Thoburn, Leland
Thomas, C. T.
Thompson, John L.
Thompson, Phillip
Tillman, Stephen
Titus, Lori
Tivey, Lauren
Tobin, Tim
Todd, Jeffrey
Tolland, Timothry
Tomlinson, Brenton
Tomolillo, Bob
Tu, Andy
Ullerich, Eric
Valent, Raymond A.
Valvis, James
Vilhotti, Jerry
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Walsh, Patricia
Ward, Emma
Ward, Jared
Waters, Andrew
Weber, R.O.
Weil, Lester L.
Weir, G. Kenneth
White, J.
White, Judy Friedman
White, Robb
White, Terry
Williams, Alun
Willoughby, Megan
Wilsky, Jim
Wilson, Robley
Wilson, Scott
Wilson, Tabitha
Wright, David
Young, Scot
Yuan, Changming
Zafiro, Frank
Zapata, Angel
Zickgraf, Catherine
Zimmerman, Thomas
Znaidi, Ali

beautifuld.jpg
Art by Kevin Duncan 2015

Beautiful as Hell

 

by E.A. Aymar

 

I’m holding the doorknob and Liz is on the other side, wrenching the handle, calling my name. I still have no idea what I’m doing but I lock the door anyway.

“Mark?” Liz asks, her voice close to laughing. That relaxes me a little.

“Mark what are you doing?” Louder now; I’d mistaken laughter for hysteria. “Mark open the door! MARK OPEN THE DOOR! MARK…”

I want to but don’t. This matters too much.

Liz matters too much.

I leave her beating on the door and shouting my name.

*        *

I try to concentrate on the six o’clock evening news but it makes me too nervous. I keep expecting my picture to pop-up in the little window graphic next to the anchorman’s head, maybe the sullen shot six years ago of me standing between my parents after my high school graduation, just two weeks before they crossed the street looking left and never saw the truck speeding to their right. I imagine my name in glaring print on every newspaper headline; television reporters lurking outside my home; being led to a courthouse through a reaching throng of people; curious strangers staring at me years later, wondering why they recognize me.

A kidnapper.

Panic’s filling me like a darkening cloud. I inhale a joint to calm down. Liz has stopped shouting. Now I can barely hear her crying through the vents.

It’s been three hours since I locked her down there.

Liz can wail her guts out all night and she won’t be heard. The house to the left of my rental hasn’t been filled since my last neighbor moved out and the one to my right is being rebuilt. These row houses run through Baltimore like a rusted chain, from my neighborhood in Federal Hill to nearby Fells Point, where Liz lives.

Liz has always been close to me, a few links away on the chain.

Her sobs rise from the basement.

*        *

Evening slinks over the sun. I venture downstairs with a microwaved slice of steak and a pile of potato chips.

“Liz?”

Nothing.

“Liz?” I ask again, and walk cautiously toward the door.

The basement consists of a long hall with a small storage space under the stairs and three doors opposite, leading to a laundry room, a guest bedroom and a small windowless room. I’d locked Liz in the latter.

“Hello?”

I set the plate down and undo the lock and pull open the door and the door smashes open because Liz shoves it into me. I twist to reach for her but slip on the steak. Liz rounds the corner for the stairs, glances back at me and runs into the wall. We rise and I lunge and catch her foot. She screams like hell and kicks and her heel catches my jaw but I don’t let go. I keep holding her foot as she kicks me again and again in the face and screams, and then her body twists but her ankle doesn’t and she cries as it snaps. I take her in my arms and drag her back and Liz asks, “Why are you doing this to me Mark why are you doing this to me why are you doing this” and I lead her into the small room and lock her in again. I hear her fall to the ground after the door closes. I head back up, breathing heavily. Blood’s on the stairs. I hope it’s from me.

It’s not.

*        *

Liz slouched in the Jeep’s passenger seat months ago when we drove to the Outer Banks with a group of mutual friends, her bare foot dangling out the window while she leaned back to talk to me. That’s how I remember her, the image that always comes to mind from our first meeting. Liz: tan, brunette, beautiful, barely five feet, brown wells of water for eyes. We spent most of that weekend talking, sometimes with others but mostly alone, lying next to each other on blankets on sand, wisps of hair in her sun-squinted eyes. We came back to Baltimore and fell in bed, fell into a blur of weeks that abruptly ended when she worried I’d gotten her pregnant.

She wasn’t, but the sex was over. I was afraid she’d end everything but Liz kept in touch. She’d call after a night spent drinking and dancing and we’d talk through those blue hours beyond midnight. She’d also lost both of her parents, cancer brutally took them in back-to-back years, and I’d never met anyone else who shared that “adult-orphaned” feeling. Some people lose their parents at a young age and are forced into maturity; for others, the opposite happens. Something inside you is caged.

We’d spend day after day on the phone, but then I’d suffer through weeks when I didn’t hear from her and she didn’t answer my calls or texts, so I’d take matters into my own hands. Liz only went to a couple of clubs in Baltimore, Paradox or The Get Down, and I’d head to both after the hours waiting for a text became unbearable. I wouldn’t wear a full disguise, just a cap and a fake beard; the darkness of the clubs helped me completely disappear.

It’s hard to describe the happiness I felt when I’d finally run into her, when I’d see Liz on the dance floor or lazily sexily slouched in a lounge chair, one leg dangling over an arm. I made sure she didn’t see me, stayed out of sight after I spotted her, tried not to stare as she spoke or swayed with friends or strangers. That was all I wanted, to see her. I’d watch her until she left, I’d leave and later that night, she’d text.

It was kind of our thing that she didn’t know anything about.

But then, Price.

Price was a small-time dealer; he only sold weed, and he only sold it to the white neighborhoods. I knew him in high school and we ended up briefly working in the same restaurant afterward, 203 Sports Bar in Federal Hill. I liked him but he made me nervous. You’d head to his house for a party and Price would greet you with shrooms, make you eat a couple on entry. And then he’d carry his gun around the house, wearing jeans with no shirt, high and holding a beer in one hand and a Glock dangling from the other.

He was six foot and bald and muscular with an “I give a shit?” attitude that made vaginas wetter than a bad day in England. I saw him at The Get Down talking to Liz and my stomach tightened. Of course they left together. Of course they started dating. And of all the women Price was with, of course Liz was the one that stuck. Fuck my luck.

“Mark,” she said, after they’d been dating a month, “we really shouldn’t text or talk much anymore.”

“Yeah, but…” I let the fragment float away.

They dated for two more months and then, one night, I received a distraught call from Liz. Price had left her for another woman. We spent the night talking until he returned. It only took a day for him to win her back.

This time, Liz and I stayed friends. She was really the only constant in my life, always on the phone or texting me after Price had fallen asleep. I thought I might love her; it felt like love. Sometimes that’s enough.

Sometimes, like when she told me they were moving in together, it’s too much.

“Want to go to lunch?” I asked her.

She did. We sat on the edge of a pier in Fells Point. Liz let her legs dangle over the water. An indifferent sun hung in the October sky.

“You and I make good friends,” Liz said, at some point in our conversation, “but we’ve never been able to be more than that.”

I let her words settle inside me.

“Why do you think that is?”

“I think,” Liz said, seriously, “because you don’t have any pets.”

“Pets?”

“Pets are an extension of love. I have my cat, Dizzy. Most of the guys I really liked had a dog or cat. Even a fish. I think it means something.”

“I have a couple of mice,” I told her. “But I share them with the rest of the building.”

Liz smiled at me. “You’re weird, dude. But I’m glad you wanted to meet up today. I need to tell you something.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m not just moving in. We’re getting married.” Liz looked steadily at me. “I know you’ve never had things with us…figured out. I felt like something was left unsaid. Even from me.”

“Is it still?”

“You can never say everything you need,” Liz smiled. “Especially when you’re saying goodbye.”

I asked her back to my house. She followed me to the basement without question, all the while explaining why she didn’t love me.

*        *

“Why are you doing this?” Liz asks.

It’s been two hours since she tried to escape.

I sit against the door and stare into the darkness of my basement.

“I think I need to see a doctor. My ankle hurts. A lot.”

I close my eyes, knock the back of my head against the wood and tell her:

“I just want, I just wanted you to know how I feel. I didn’t expect all this to happen.”

“Please let me go.”

“You’ll go to the police,” I tell her, and think: I can’t believe I’m saying you’ll go to the police.

“I won’t,” Liz begs. “I swear. I don’t even know why you’re doing this. Did I do something wrong?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong.”

I knew what you were.

“Mark,” Liz tells me, and I hear her limp toward the door, “please. John knows where I went, and he’s going to start looking for me. He’ll call the police. Please, Mark. I won’t tell anyone.”

My eyes stay closed.

Liz is so close, so maddeningly close.

“It doesn’t matter if you tell anyone.”

“What do you mean?” Her voice is hushed.

“I don’t know.”

“Are you going to kill me?”

That’s what you think I am?

“No.”

“Then please let me go.”

I’m going to spend the rest of my life in a cell.

You’re the reason.

“Do you want me to say I’m sorry?” Liz continued. “Then I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I did to you and the way I acted and I’m sorry I hurt you and slept with you and left you and I’m SORRY.” Liz is shouting now. “I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY…”

*        *

Silence, echoing silence, like the moment after a slap.

*        *

Knocks.

I jump out of my recliner and hurry to the front door, worried that Liz will hear the sounds.

I pull open the door, slip outside.

Price is standing in front of me. He’s wearing sweatpants and a tank top, a small black duffel bag over his shoulder. It’s hard not to notice his arms; even resting, his muscles look like they’re in mid-flex. I can smell the musky sweat from his pits and chest.

“Liz here?” he asks.

“Hi John. No.”

“Her car’s parked in the street,” he says and points.

I glance to where he’s pointing and see her tiny blue Civic.

Well, shit. Hadn’t thought about that.

“Liz was here,” I tell him. “She wanted to talk about some stuff. I guess she went for a walk.”

“Is she mad about something?” Price asks, and he lifts the bag off his shoulder, drops it to the ground, opens it and rummages inside. I see shoes, water, weed baggies, a towel, shorts. A gun.

“I don’t know.”

Price takes the bottle of water, unscrews the top and drinks.

“Just got back from the gym,” he says.

“And you brought the gun in case someone was using your treadmill?”

Price laughs. “You’re weird, dude. Anyway, I finished up there, headed home and couldn’t find her. Figured she’s pissed that I missed dinner.”

“Oh.”

Price grins. “Knew she’d come vent to you.”

“Why’s that?”

“Every chick wants a gay best friend.”

“What?”

“Sorry. Homosexual. Anyway, just tell her I’m home. And I’m sorry.”

“I’m not…you don’t want to come inside?”

“Nah. I’ll see her later.”

I can’t believe he doesn’t want to come in. “Are you sure? You don’t want to wait for her? Make sure she’s okay?”

I have to stop myself from opening the door.

“Take care of my lady,” Price tells me, and he picks up his bag and saunters off. “Send her home when you’re done with her.”

*        *

I need to get Liz’s car out of here. I search the house for her car keys and realize Liz must have them.

Back to the basement.

“Is your purse in there?” I ask the door.

“Yeah.” A pause. “You need my keys, don’t you?”

And then she laughs.

I let Liz laugh for a few minutes–although her laughter worries me, sounds like she’s going insane–and tell her, “No one’s going to find you anytime soon. Not soon enough, anyway.”

That stops her laughter.

“Not soon enough for what?” she asks.

I actually don’t have an answer; it just sounded like a tough guy thing to say.

“Not soon enough for what?”

“I just wanted to talk to you. That’s it.”

“We did talk, Mark.”

The way Liz says my name, exasperated, feels like she’s kicking my heart down the street. Like she’s done with me.

“You don’t know how much you meant to me.”

I wouldn’t have left you with me.

“You meant a lot to me too.”

I shake my head, realize she can’t see me through the door, and tell her, “Not the same.”

“What does that mean?” Liz sounds hurt, or she’s pretending to be.

“You didn’t care this much. You wouldn’t have locked me in a basement.” I pause. “I’m not sure that makes sense, but you get my point.”

A different laugh, genuine and surprised and quick. “Well, no. But I did care.”

“Yeah.”

“Mark, I did.” The way she says my name is different now.

“Yeah?”

“Why do you think I kept in touch all this time? You’ve always been the person who understood me best. I told you that.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Then I should have. Please, Mark, let me out of here and none of what’s happened will matter. I promise. I won’t tell anyone.”

“I just really wish you could…” I let the rest of the sentence drift.

“I could what?”

“I’ll be right back.”

“What do you mean, Mark?” Her voice is higher, worried. “I could what?”

She’s calling my name as I leave, and I hear her as I hurry upstairs and peek through the window to make sure Price is gone.

Panic and guilt have been wrestling inside of me ever since I locked Liz in my basement, but now something sharper is in my stomach, my hands, my ears, a shrilly urgent message from my conscious telling me I’m going too far. I ignore it.

I need something sharp.

Twenty minutes later I head back down to the basement.

I knock on the door to Liz’s room and there’s no answer. For a moment I’m worried she escaped, but then she says, “Mark?”

“Okay, I’m going to open the door and this is going to look kind of crazy. It’s not. I’m not. I’m not going to eat you or anything. I just want you to be surprised.”

Silence punctuates her one-word reply. “Okay.”

It’s nothing but a small twist, a flick of my fingers to undo the bolt and set her free.

Liz is standing back from the door, her purse in her hands. There’s a bruise under her nose, dried blood.

“Why are you dressed like that?” she asks. “And what are you holding?”

“Wear this…would you mind putting this on?” I hold out the dress I made.

Liz limps forward, takes the dress and looks at it with curiosity and disdain. “This looks like you cut up a white towel and taped the strips to a t-shirt.”

“I just want you to see something,” I tell her. “Put it on.”

“Why’d you change into a tie?”

I smile. “Come on, please?”

Liz pulls the shirt over her and the strips from the towel fall to her knees. Some drop to the floor. I probably should have used better tape.

I grab the mirror behind me. It’s a standing, full-length mirror my mom bought. I place it in front of us, then stand next to Liz in the doorway.

We stare at our reflection.

“I just wanted you to see…I wanted you to see what we’d look like. If we were the ones getting married.”

Liz doesn’t say anything. Just stares.

“Oh! Here.” I bend down, pick up a teddy bear and give it to her. “Pretend it’s a cat. See? Pets. We have pets.”

I watch her face in the mirror. Something occurs to me.

“You know,” I tell her. “This does look sort of crazy.”

“No,” Liz says, and she steps forward to get a better look. “I like what you did.”

“Really?” I ask. I’m surprised by what I feel.

But it’s not happiness.

“Touch the mirror,” I tell her.

“What?”

“The mirror. See the carved wood? Touch it.”

I close my eyes.

I want Liz to grab the heavy mirror and slam it into me.

I’ll end up staggering backward and falling to the floor, a thousand shards of glass around me, pressing into my skin. I’ll hear her upstairs limp-running to the front door, crying. I’ll hear the door thrown open, Liz running off so fast that she doesn’t bother to close it.

“Why do you want me to touch it?” she asks.

Her voice is so close that I can almost feel her body as she reaches out.

THE END

 

 

 

E.A. Aymar's debut thriller, I'LL SLEEP WHEN YOU'RE DEAD, was published by Black Opal Books in 2013 and the sequel, YOU'RE AS GOOD AS DEAD, is available now from the same publisher. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, SinC and the International Thriller Writers. His column, Decisions and Revisions, runs monthly in the Washington Independent Review of Books. He lives with his family just outside of Washington, D.C.

In Association with Fossil Publications