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Mystery

I'm paralyzed from the waist down. Everything becomes a blur. Everything except his smiling face. He's standing at least 10 feet away but my eyes have focused on him and him only. People are passing me on the busy sidewalk, yelling incoherent profanities regarding my current state.

If this was happening two years ago, I would have ran to him with open arms. I would have kissed him until I needed to come up for air. But that was before he died. Before I fell victim to him. 

As my vision continues to fail me, white butterflies start replacing the people on the streets. They start migrating somewhere, forming a straight line towards something that they would never ignore. I realize that something is him. The butterflies are landing on him, covering every inch of his body. Yet, he still holds the smile that caught my eye from the very first day I met him.

It was an unusual way we met. It was the kind of story that we would live to tell our children, and they would tell their children.

"Excuse me, Miss, but I'm afraid you're blocking the doorway...to my house," he said. My terrified look was what made him more interested.

"Could you let me in? I'm being pursued by some madman! He chased me down an-and kept calling my name! But I have no clue as to who he is!"

"Did you get a good look at him?"

"No, No I didn't but he was young. Most likely around my age."

"Interesting...How tall was he?"

I grew impatient, it seemed like he was stalling. Although he was a stranger, he had to have some regards to my safety.

"Just let me in! I'm begging you," I must've seemed very desperate, because he slightly pushed me out of the way, unlocked the door, and gestured for me to enter.

"Jess Binman. Nice to meet you," he said, holding a friendly hand out towards me.

I took it with my delicate hand that was significantly smaller than his and said, "Pleasure, May Stones."

This was the one time that I was invited into his home. I never stepped foot into it again, which was peculiar, but I never once questioned it until a few years ago.

I'm picturing the room now, I remember observing his decorations. There was one very repetitive decoration that presents a very eerie memory now. The white butterflies, they were everywhere. Framed in little back squares, hung on the walls. His cutlery was even stenciled with the familiar insect. There was one big one that stood tall on the top of his mantle. I was too afraid to ask about the strange decorations, I told myself they must’ve reminded him of someone he loved. Boy was I wrong.

One night was all it took for me to fall in love with him. We talked for hours that night, he even walked me home because I was still quite scared of the madman that had followed me. Little did I know how close I had gotten to him in a few hours. 

We had dated for almost 10 months when he decided to take me to meet his family. They lived in Maryland and they were one of the most beautiful families I had ever met. Jess had many siblings, eight in total. The youngest was seven years old and she was the one I talked to the most. She would tell of all the times Jess did something crazy with his friends, or how she would help him sneak out when she was only five years old. Once, she mentioned how Jess was so different now, his mood was always dark and he was much too serious for someone in college. I figured that it was just because of the age difference.

That night was the first time that Jess started acting weird. We were sleeping in his parents guest room and the phone rang around midnight. I acted as I was still asleep as I listened to his whispered words.

“It’s time--so excited. Can’t get caught--promise?” I barely picked up on what he was saying, or what the person on the other line was talking about. I let it slip my mind and went back to sleep after he creeped out of bed, kissed me on the cheek and left. 

The next morning we left to go back to New York. He would be meeting my family on Thanksgiving. 

Our first fight was the night we got back from Maryland. Out of the blue, Jess started to panic and he became very angry about me having a TV.

“They mess with your mind, those news people! They’ll tell you something that has happened in the world and you can do nothing but believe it!”

“Jess! What has gotten into you?”

“What has gotten into me? You’re the one with a TV, an evil box of nothing but lies. Lies and manipulation!” Jess went on and on about the TV, leaving me with no choice but to get rid of it. My friends told me he was hiding something, but I trusted Jess with my life, he would never hide something from me. But that led to questions, was he cheating on me? Was he planning on breaking up with me? 

My worries were made even worse when Jess would get home at ridiculous hours in the night. He would be carrying a duffle bag, claiming that they were his dirty clothes. When I offered to wash them, he would become flushed and yell at me for thinking he wasn’t capable of doing his own laundry.

When I had finally had enough, I said we needed to take a break, and he needed to leave me alone. I expected him to respect my decision, but every corner I would turn from then on, he would be there watching me. One night I was too afraid to stay in my own house, so I spent the night at a friends house. I was watching TV for the first time in almost 7 months when a crime report came on the TV. It was the third murder in two months.

“What’s going on?” I asked my friend Kayla.

“Oh God, May! You don’t know what’s goin’ on?” she said.

“No--Jess threw out my TV. They’re manipulative you know, those news stories, they’re full of lies.” I caught myself after that sentence. I sounded exactly like Jess. 

“May, it sounds like Jess is the manipulative one.”

“What?”

“He’s made you get rid of your TV, won’t let you in his house, and follows you around! I would get a restraining order if I were you.”

“Jess is not manipulative. And a restraining order? Jeez, that’s too much Kayla!” I said.

She sighed with defeat and stared at the gruesome photos of the crime scene on the TV. “Well to answer your question, there’s a serial killer on the loose. Has been for seven months. Every crime scene has been marked with a white butterfly. They still haven’t caught him,” she said. 

Without taking a second to notice the time frame, I gasp. Seven months. It had been seven months since I was forced to get rid of my TV. And a white butterfly? I had seen that somewhere before. I--oh my God.

“I-I have to go home, I’m sorry,” I said to Kayla while gathering my stuff and running out the door.

When I got home, the door was wide open. Snow had been tracked in like someone forgot to take their shoes off. 

“Hello?” I yelled into the house.

“Kayla,” a voice said from the dark kitchen. I turned around to see Jess covered in a red substance. He reeked as well, almost like...death. As I got closer, I noticed that it was blood, he was covered in blood. His left hand was contorted in a way you would hold a small insect, but there was nothing there. He started raising his hand to be slightly in front of his face. That was when a white butterfly landed perfectly on his hand. I was marveled by the beauty of it and it’s beautiful wings. I moved closer, somewhat aware that a serial killer was standing right in front of me. I reached out for the butterfly but right as my finger was beside it, Jess’ hand flew down, crushing the butterfly and letting it flutter to the floor. As to mark a crime scene, his crime scenes. It all came to me in an instant, I was his next victim. 

It still haunts me to this day, I wasted about two years of my life dating a serial killer. The thing that bothers me is how long it took me to find out. The feeling has come back into my legs now. Jess is still standing in front of me, but this time, there’s another Jess, standing behind him with his palm facing the ground while a butterfly is falling to the ground. It keeps falling and falling, but right before it reaches the ground, it flaps its wings once and flies over to me. Landing on my finger. I smile and look over to find Jess, but all I see is my reflection in a store window. It’s my turn, I whisper to myself.

July 26, 2020 17:09

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2 comments

Alia Shlule
19:43 Aug 03, 2020

This story was one of my favourites to read; you have the perfect balance between providing enough detail to create immersion and ensuring the story keeps a quick enough pace. I absolutely loved the recurring imagery of the white butterfly, with all of the symbolism attached to it! Your dialogue was also very, very natural which added to the enjoyable experience. The Tarantino-like non-linear plot was also really creative, and the final paragraph packed such a punch! The only thing I would say is that the story would be more impactful as ...

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Anna Mosqueda
15:03 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much! Your feedback means a lot! I will definitely use the pointers you provided!

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