“James, I’m scared. I think we should go home.”
Anabel peered through the wrought iron gate into the sprawling cemetery. The sun was just beginning to set, and so the sky was filled with vibrant shades of pink and orange deepening into a dull purple tone. Rows of tombstones and sepulchers – some of them dating back to the Civil War – stood among towering oak trees, tendrils of ivy clinging to their crumbling stone façades.
“Oh come on, you never want to do anything fun! Where’s your Halloween spirit?” James’ voice betrayed his irritation as he turned to Anabel with an accusatory stare.
“Look, I like Halloween just as much as you do, but this…” She gestured to the graveyard beyond the gate. “This is just a bit much.”
“Anabel, it’s just one night! What are you, chicken?”
“Why are you so insistent on doing this? I’m obviously not comfortable with it. If you want to spend the night here then that’s fine, but I’m going home.”
She turned away from James and started off down the sidewalk. The sky was growing darker, the first stars becoming visible in the deepening twilight.
“Anabel.” His voice was low, almost emotionless as he said her name. She turned to face him, stepping backwards along the street. “I know you’re not really going to leave.”
“What are you talking about? I’m going home.” she called back, pausing in her retreat.
James stepped towards her, one hand tucked into the opening of his jacket. Anabel’s eyes grew wide in horror. In the fading sunlight, she could just make out the soft metallic glint of the pistol he pulled from his coat and held close to his hip.
“James, what on earth are you doing?!” she exclaimed, her voice rising into a shout.
“Don’t try to run. Don’t try to yell for help.” He opened up the heavy iron gate, its rusty hinges protesting with an unearthly screech. He gestured to the gate with his weapon. “Well, come on in.”
Anabel began moving towards the gate, her eyes frantically searching for somewhere to run and escape. The street was deathly quiet; not a single car could be heard coming down the road. She passed through the gate and into the cemetery, hearing the resounding clank as James pulled it shut behind her. She turned around, staring into his shadowed eyes.
He prodded her down the pathway, following closely behind. Anabel whimpered nervously, her hands beginning to shake as she clasped them in front of her chest.
“This is far enough.”
They stopped at the edge of a secluded clearing near the back of the graveyard. A row of ornate granite mausoleums formed a barrier on one side; a fragrant hedge of wild roses wrapped around in a gentle arc, shielding the couple from sight. Anabel stood in the center of the clearing, staring in shocked silence as James circled around to stand in front of her. She opened her mouth to speak, her voice coming out in a choked whisper.
“Why are you doing this?” she asked, beginning to shiver in the cool breeze. James stared back at her, his expression hidden in the dark of the night.
“Oh, Anabel.” His voice held a touch of amusement, as though she had made some sort of joke. “Why do you think?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
James began to laugh as he took a step closer, bringing his face inches away from hers. She could feel his warm breath against her pale cheeks as he began to speak in a whisper.
“You’re a damned good liar, Anabel. I have to admit, I respect that.”
“James, I don’t-”
“Shut up!” He cut her off, practically screaming into her face. “How stupid do you think I am? Did you really think I wouldn’t find out about you and Connor?”
Anabel froze, her cheeks now flushed with shame. Tears welled up in her eyes, threatening to spill into salty rivers down her face.
“Please, I can explain!”
“There’s nothing left for you to explain. How could you even think of hurting me like that? You cheating whore!” He struck her across the face, causing her to cry out in pain.
“It didn’t mean anything, I swear!”
“It didn’t mean anything? Don’t you mean that our relationship didn’t mean anything?!”
Anabel grew angry, her own voice rising into a shout. “Well, maybe you should’ve treated me with a bit more respect! At least Connor got that right, he knew how to treat a woman!”
James let out a cry of pure rage, clicking back the safety on his pistol.
“Sure, go ahead,” Anabel yelled. “Shoot me! Shoot me because you weren’t good enough to keep me!”
He paused for a moment, his heavy breathing the only sound to be heard. “I was never going to shoot you, Anabel.”
Anabel watched in horror as James raised the pistol to his own temple.
“James, stop! Why are you doing this?!”
“Because you were right; I wasn’t good enough to keep you! But you broke my heart. Now it’s time for me to break yours. Goodbye, Anabel.”
He squeezed his eyes shut as his index finger curled around the trigger. Anabel leaped forward, throwing her weight against his chest. The couple fell against the grass, the pistol firing a shot into the gnarled trunk of a nearby oak tree with a deafening crack.
Anabel leaped to her feet, snatching the pistol from the ground and stuffing it into the waistband of her jeans. “James, what the hell were you thinking?!”
James lay on the ground, staring up at her in the pale moonlight. “I’m so sorry, Anabel.” He burst into tears, his body shaking violently with every breath. “I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you.”
She kneeled down beside him, pushing his hair back across his forehead and out of his eyes. Police sirens began to wail in the distance.
“I think someone heard that gunshot…”
“We’d better get out of here!” James sat up, only to be met by a forceful push back down to the ground.
“We’re not going anywhere.”
“Are you crazy? They’ll arrest us!”
Anabel looked him in the eyes, her face lit up by the pulsing blue and red light that spilled into the clearing. She pulled the pistol out from her waistband, turning it over in her hands.
“Correction: They’ll arrest you.”
The sound of boots trampling through the grass grew nearer as the police approached the clearing. Anabel tossed the gun into James’ lap, letting out a blood-curdling scream. “Please don’t shoot me!” she cried, falling backwards onto the ground and covering her head with her hands.
“Freeze!” The police smashed through the hedge, surrounding the couple and pointing their rifles at James. “Drop the gun or we’ll be forced to shoot!”
James threw his hands in the air, knocking the gun into the grass. As the police placed the handcuffs around his wrists, he caught sight of Anabel sitting on the ground. She raised her head, a smirk on her face as she watched him being escorted away into the night.