Jonathan delicately sipped on a Pepsi. It was a warm summer day, the rocking of his yacht relaxed him. Many of his friends got seasick, but he never did. Something about the ocean calmed him. It was his first week into retirement, and he was enjoying every moment.
He adjusted his sunglasses and looked out at the sea. The shoreline was barely visible. Good. The further the way the better. Jonathan needed a break from everything. He didn’t know if it was because he was old, or if he had overworked himself. Everyone had told him that he was late to retire, but he finally felt it.
Laughter sounded from below, and Jonathan’s two grandchildren raced out from below. They paid him no mind as they ran onto the deck to get a better view of the ocean. The oldest of the two, Regina, held a pair of binoculars. She looked through them for a moment before handing them to her younger brother, George. Jonathan smiled. It looks like his grandkids were enjoying the ocean as much as he did. They were so unlike their parents.
“Sir,” a voice to his left called.
Jonathan turned to see his dear friend, Matthew walking towards him. Matthew had originally worked for Jonathan when his health had taken a turn for the worse. He’d mostly recovered by now, but he and Matthew had grown so close that Jonathan kept him in service.
“Yes?” Jonathan asked.
“A letter came for you.”
That’s odd. “Oh? Do you have it?”
Matthew walked over and handed the envelope to Jonathan. Jonathan nodded in dismissal and Matthew went back downstairs.
Jonathan turned the envelope over to read the front. He froze. No, it couldn’t be. It didn’t feel like a whole year had passed. How had time escaped him? With shaking hands Jonathan opened the letter. It read:
“It’s time to partake in your side of the deal, old friend. You know where to meet.”
“So, we’re just leaving?” Jonathan’s son, Michael asked angrily. “This trip was your idea, and then five hours after we leave, you want to go back?”
Michael sighed and crossed his arms. “Do you know how hard it was to get the kids out here? Do you even know how much work it was?”
“I said we’re going back,” Jonathan replied coldly, “so we’re going back.”
“You’re unbelievable,” Michael huffed. “This is why I don’t like doing things with you.” He gave his father a sour look before going below deck to George and Regina.
They returned to land by nightfall. Jonathan’s grandchildren seemed disappointed they were leaving so soon, and Michael was still mad at him. Jonathan could tell Michael thought he was just getting old.
But Matthew knew something was wrong. He tried questioning Jonathan several times on their way back, but Jonathan shut him down every time.
Once they were back on the shore, Jonathan had Matthew drive him into the heart of the city.
“Here is fine,” Jonathan said.
Matthew hesitated. “Sir, are you sure everything’s alright?”
“Yes! I’ve told you a thousand times already.” Jonathan opened the car door. Matthew opened his, too. “No, Matthew.”
“You can’t be alone.”
“I won’t be. I’ll see you back at the house later.”
“I don’t like this.”
“I know.” Without looking back, Jonathan left. He wove through the densely packed buildings until he found the spot. The oldest bar in the city. Jonathan took a deep breath and went inside.
It was a mellow bar. Yellow light lit the small room while classic rock played in the background. It was empty except for one person. Edmond Summerton. At least, that’s the name Jonathan knew him by.
“Well, I’m here,” Jonathan said as he sat next to Edmond.
Without looking up, Edmond replied, “Good.” He finally turned to face Jonathan. He hadn’t aged a day. “You know why we’re here.”
Jonathan looked away. “I’ve built a good life. I have a family.”
“A deal is a deal. Don’t you remember?”
“Of course I remember!” Jonathan said sharply. “How could I forget?”
“Well I almost did,” Edmond said sarcastically. “Let’s travel down memory lane. Back to when we met. It was at this very bar, wasn’t it?”
“What’s your point?”
“Just reminding you how desperate you were. I rarely see people hit rock bottom as hard as you did.” He smirked. “Oh, how the times have changed.”
Jonathan glared. “What do you want?”
“You know what I want. Tell me. Tell me what you have to do to keep living your perfect life.”
“I have to kill someone.”
“Not just anyone. The same person. Over and over.” Edmond laughed bitterly. “You’d think I’d be bored of it now, but it never seems to grow old. What was her name again?”
“Emma. My daughter’s name was Emma,” Jonathan replied through clenched teeth.
Edmond smiled. “Good. Giving you this wonderful life wasn’t easy, you know.” Edmond said. He held out his hand, revealing a purple stone.
Jonathan turned away.
“You know what happens when you make deals with me. Now, take the stone and murder your daughter. You’ve been doing it every year for nearly forty years now. Surely, it’s getting easier.”
“I hate you,” Jonathan spat but grabbed the stone. He disappeared in a flash of light.
Edmond chuckled. His laughter filled up the empty bar.
Jonathan stepped in the small house. It was just as he remembered. It always was. The place was practically in shambles. On autopilot, he went upstairs to his daughter’s room. She heard him, like always, and burst out of her room.
“Daddy!” She hugged him tightly. She was so small she only went up to his waist. She looked up at him. “What’s wrong?”
“We can’t live like this anymore,” Jonathan repeatedly mechanically. It was the same thing every year. “I can’t bear to see you like this.”
She frowned. “Like what?”
He swallowed, forcing himself to think of how much better things were for him. How great his life was now. “We don’t have anything. We’re not going to make it to the end of the month.”
“You always figure things out.”
“Yes, I do. I made a deal with someone. I can get out of this.” He had avoided looking down at her until now.
She let go of him. “What’s the matter?”
“You won’t be getting out of this with me.” From muscle memory, Jonathan reached for the knife he knew was in his back pocket. The rest he chose to forget.