Enveloped Boundaries

Submitted into Contest #44 in response to: Write a story that starts with two characters saying goodbye.... view prompt

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“So, this is it, then?”

Danielle nodded. “This has been it. We just want different things.”

“Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Sam responded. He ran his hand through his dark hair. “It’s always felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, like you were always trying to find a way to end it.” He stood and stepped away from the bench, adding physical distance to the emotional distance he felt. 

They were both silent for a moment. Sam felt a charge in the air between them, tension on her part, desire on his. There seemed to be so much to say, but he knew they were both too stubborn, too set in their ways to break through the wall that had built up between them. He wanted to find a way over or through that wall.

“But that doesn’t make this hurt any less,” he cried out, turning back to her. “I don’t understand why we can’t work through things.”

“We’re at an impasse,” Danielle responded. 

“No, you’re at an impasse,” Sam retorted. “I’m willing to bend.”

“Fine, I’m at an impasse because I’ve made my choice!”

“But it’s the wrong choice, don’t you see?” Sam pleaded. 

Danielle shrugged. “That’s your opinion.”

Sam rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. For a moment, he just stared at Danielle in disbelief. How could she not see what was right in front of her? What else could he do to get through to her that they were meant to be together? He’d left her alone, and then when he couldn’t get her out of his mind, he’d tried emailing her. When she didn’t respond, he decided to approach her in person. Her reaction had surprised him, she’d been afraid of him. He couldn’t understand it then and he couldn’t understand her decision now.

“Do you understand what you’ve put me through in the last few weeks, months even?” Danielle’s voice broke through his thoughts, tinged with exasperation. “When you asked for space, I gave it to you. It was you who kept breaking your own boundary. You’d ask for space, and then a few days later, you’d text me asking to talk. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Over and over again.” She jumped up and stepped towards him, glaring up into his face. “And then when I set the boundary and refused to engage with you anymore, you ambushed me on a train! You said that you suspected I blocked your number. You confirmed on social media that I had switched stations. You know that I hate public drama, but even knowing all of this, you still decided to pursue me!”

Sam had never seen her so angry, but he found himself strangely reveling in it. Perhaps it was that fiery part of her personality that had made him fall in love with her. Her emotion was so clear on her face and he couldn’t help but believe that she wouldn’t be so passionate towards him if she didn’t love him. He clung to that belief, hoping that it would be enough to bring her back to him.

“I didn’t mean to ambush you,” Sam began. “I missed you. Not just romantically either.” He sighed. “I missed your friendship, your sense of humor, the way you challenge me.” He reached for her, cautiously, and when she didn’t immediately flinch away, he cupped his hand to her cheek. “I’ve never known anyone like you before.”

“Sam,” Danielle sighed. “I miss our friendship, too.” She closed her eyes for a moment and Sam debated leaning in to kiss her. As if reading his thoughts, her eyes popped open and she stepped back. “But friends respect boundaries, and you’re not doing that.”

“I just don’t understand why you contacted him.” Sam changed the subject. “We were doing well, but then you made the decision to reach out to someone from your past and now, you’re with him.”

Danielle’s green eyes flashed. “We’re not discussing Eric.”

“Why?” Sam challenged. “Afraid to admit I might be right about him? About you and him?” He stepped towards her. “You’re moving ridiculously fast. You barely even know him!”

“I know enough!” Danielle shot back. She spun on her heel, her auburn hair flying behind her, and stomped away from him.

Desperate to keep her there, Sam decided to switch tactics. “Danielle, I’ve changed. I know what I said before about marriage, but if that’s what you need, if that’s what it takes to convince you that I love you, then I’ll do it. I’ll marry you.”

She turned back in disbelief, the shock on her face fed his soul. For a moment, he thought he had gotten through to her, and he moved towards her with his hand outstretched: a peace offering.

Danielle recoiled. “And then you’ll resent me for the rest of your life!” 

“No, I won’t!” Sam declared. He walked back over to the bench and sank down. “Please, come sit with me.” He patted the bench. “We can work this out.”

Danielle pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. She shook her head. “Sam, we’ve been through this. It’s over. It’s been over, for months!”

“Don’t say that!” Sam begged. 

“Eric and I are getting married!” Danielle yelled, clenching her fists at her sides.

“I don’t see a ring on your finger!”

“We’ve talked about it. He told me he bought the ring.” She looked over at Sam, her eyes softening. “I don’t know when he plans to propose, but I’ve made my choice.” She walked over to the bench and sat down on the edge, her knees turned toward him. “You and I just want different things, from love, from life.”

“What do you mean from life?” Sam asked. 

“For instance, I don’t understand all of your political aspirations, but I don’t want to hold you back from pursuing causes that you believe in.” 

“I’ll give them all up! I’ll do anything!” Sam wailed.

“I wouldn’t want that for you, and I wouldn’t want to start a life with someone like that.” Danielle placed her hand on his shoulder. “Sam, I’m a single mom. I have a kid to think about. I can’t live the life you want to live and protect her at the same time.”

Sam felt his control over the situation slipping. He knew she still loved him, he could see it in her face, in her eyes. Regardless of all the excuses she was giving for why they couldn’t be together, he knew deep down, she didn’t want this. Frantically, he grasped the hand on his shoulder, stood up, and dragged her into his arms. She pushed back in alarm, but he wrapped his arms tightly around her.

“I know you still love me, Danielle. No matter what you say, I know you love me. I’m not going to let you go.”

She struggled against him, but he held her in a vice grip. He felt her take a deep breath to scream, so he spun her around and wrapped one arm around her waist while the other hand clamped over her mouth.

The sun was setting and the park was closing. No one was around to help her or stop him. Her struggles became more desperate as the fear grew inside of her, and he drank in that fear. It fed him in a way that no other sustenance could, and he greedily sought more. 

“I love you, Danielle,” he whispered in her ear. “And because I love you, I’m going to do what’s best for you, for both of us.” 

He heard her suck in a breath between his fingers, he saw the sweat droplets forming on her brow as she increased her efforts to escape, and he could almost smell the adrenaline coursing through her veins. His face broke into a smile, at once both peaceful and ominous. With one quick movement, he threw her to the ground, knocking the breath out of her. She attempted to scramble to her feet as she gasped for air, but he was too fast for her. He grabbed a rock by the bench and slammed it into her head. Her eyes unfocused, stunned by the impact, before she collapsed onto the ground. 

Sam kneeled beside her and checked that she was still breathing. He shot a cursory glance around the park before hoisting her body into his arms and carrying her into the darkening woods.

June 05, 2020 16:42

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1 comment

Karen McDermott
14:14 Jun 11, 2020

I was sent this to review. It's very dark yet all too believable in this time of incels and with domestic violence skyrocketing for many in lockdown. I'm hoping Eric seeks revenge. Good dialogue and a chilling end.


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