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Contemporary Sad Suspense

“It’s mine, and you can’t have it!”

There. I’ve said it. After thirty years I have made a stand. Enough is enough. I can’t take anymore. I just can’t take anymore.

No.

He can’t take anymore.

Piece by piece, he has taken me. That is all he has done. That is all he is about. That is all he is.

The worst of it is that I gifted him those pieces. I came willingly to this lair of his and I let him do his worst.

Thirty years!

Oh my sweet Lord! How could I have been so blind?

No! Stop that Jane! Don’t lie to yourself. No more lies. The lies are his and his alone.

I knew.

I guess I always knew, but the truth was too terrible to acknowledge. It wasn’t that he never loved me. That much was obvious. It was that in the absence of that love there was something much, much worse than nothing. 

I couldn’t bear to look upon it. The pain he inflicted upon me, as he dissected me and took the best parts of me away, was too much already. He made me weak and weaker still. I convinced myself that I couldn’t do anything about it. That I couldn’t do anything about him.

The last three decades of my life have been a sick fantasy. That is what I can see now. I lapsed into a dark and twisted fairy tale. 

Once upon a time, there was a young princess who was charmed by a prince. He didn’t have to do all that much. She did most of his work for him. She wanted to be happy. Her only aim in the world was to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a trap. Happiness is never a destination, it is the journey itself, but she was not to know that. Worse still, she was not to know that sometimes, there are nightmares that masquerade as dreams.

Those nightmares are the worst of all the nightmares. Long ago, they escaped the dreamworld and broke into the realms of reality. Jealous of humans and the truly magical lives they lead, they disguised themselves in a cloak of fantasy and sought to single out humans to torture and feed upon.

Some say that the devil himself lives within those nightmares and it is hell that he brings to the Earth in his constant battle with the heavens and all that is good.

The prince who was not a prince wove his dark magic and entranced the princess. The spell he used was a promise, and the promise was that whatever happened, one day all would be well. One day, the princess would get everything she had ever desired.

All the princess wanted was to be OK, and for her prince to be OK. She wanted them to be a loving family. She wanted him to treat her, not as a princess, but as the woman he loved and the cherished mother of his children. Their children.

It was never to be, for the prince had been a long time lost and he could never be anything other than the creature he had become, but the princess held onto that promise of his for all she was worth. Surely all that had been, and everything she had been through, had to be worth something? There had to be a point to it all. She had given her all, and she was so invested in the promise of a happy outcome, she could not see the dark and painful reality of her resistance.

Of course, she felt the pain that the prince inflicted upon her again and again. She felt it like a knife made of ice, piercing her heart, and it was when that dread blade was driven home that she caught a glimpse of what he truly was. But then he would charm her and reiterate that promise of his. The promise that was the original lie. The lie that spawned all his other lies.

They had children together and for a while, the princess focused her love upon them and she thought she was happy. An illusion within a fantasy.

Children grow up all too quickly, and once they were old enough, they spread their wings and flew out into the world. Only their flight was not as wonderous and beautiful as it should have been and the princess watched as they stuttered and fell from the sky. Helplessly, she watched their lives take awful turns away from where they should have been headed and she watched from afar as they experienced pain that was absolutely avoidable.

It was when the children returned home and shared their woes that the princess began to see her prince for what he really was. A twisted, cruel and callous creature with no capacity to love. He had sacrificed his humanity long ago in favour of an existence such as this. A dark and terrible existence within which he preyed upon the innocent and used their very nature, and their desire for others to be OK, against them. 

The princess tried to warn her children. She tried to open their eyes to what their father was, but as she attempted to save them, they turned on her and left her bewildered and bleeding. 

It was too late. The Prince had turned her son and daughter into creatures like himself and now they would find their own source of amusement. That dagger of ice thrust deepest of all at this tragic revelation and the princess staggered out into the Winter night, never to be seen again.

I hope the princess did escape, even if that escape was to fall into the drifting snow and allow the cold to draw her into a deep and final sleep. A sleep which released her from the fantasy that was slowly killing her and leaving her only with pain and regret.

Anything is better than this.

Anything.

“It’s mine, and you can’t have it!”

I speak, and the instant the words have passed my lips, I wish I could take them back. He hears me well and he turns that stare of his upon me. His eyes are cold suns and they burn me in their glare. 

I have made a mistake. I have told him that I know. I know that he has enchanted me and wrapped me within a cruel fantasy. I have revealed a secret that I should have kept to myself and taken with me as I escaped into the cold night. 

see him.

I see him for what he is and I thought that was frightening enough, but now I see the rage within him, and whatever I was frightened of is nothing compared to this. The hate and rage he is burning me with is without end. No one could contain all of this dark power. No one.

Then I realise that this is a piece of hell. That he has given himself over to hell. Time and time again I have seen his head bowed in a form of gentle genuflection, and I mirthlessly joked with myself that he was praying. Turns out that he was. He was staring down into the depths of hell itself.

This sad and hateful man was gazing down into the abyss and the abyss stared right back at him. This I see in his eyes now and I wonder how much there was of him left when we first met. I realise that as he took me away, piece by piece, he lost a part of himself each time too. 

Only he had less to lose, and so at some point in these past thirty years, he lost enough of himself to never come back. He will never be himself again. He sacrificed himself for this. Whatever this is.

I don’t think I will ever understand why a person would do this and that absence of an answer is some of what trapped me. It made no sense, and so I made something up to mask what it was that he was doing to me, and to himself.

Even as more of my reality is revealed, I find myself thinking that he meant the promise when we first met. That he really had meant it and he had clung onto it too. Even now, I believe in redemption. Even in the face of such a complete absence that has been filled with blind and mindless hate and rage I hanker after my happy ending.

I worry that I fear the world outside more than this. That I have kept myself captive because I never thought I was worthy of the people who have lived their lives and are filled with love and truth.

So much of my life has been a lie, what if I don’t know how to love anymore?

I stopped loving myself a long time ago.

“What did you say?” he demands an answer with his cold words.

I can’t take the words back, and for a maddening moment, I consider twisting their meaning with lies, thinking that I can salvage the situation and I can use his strategy to do so. Mercifully, I pull this from the brink, because somehow he knows if someone is lying.

I don’t know how that works. I don’t know how any of it works. He is so twisted out of shape by his lies and yet he knows when someone is lying, which surely means that he knows what is true and in that case, he knows exactly what he is doing. He’ll never admit it of course and that is why he is so angry. 

It hurts him when someone challenges him, and it hurts most of all when he is called out for what he truly is. The shame of his lies and his cruel and terrible deeds wells up inside him and threatens to overwhelm him, and that makes him all the more dangerous.

I hand him his mug of tea and retreat with my own. Warming my hands around it, the only warmth to be had in this room.

“That inheritance money is mine,” I say quietly and firmly.

The intensity of that baleful stare increases and it is all I can do not to wilt.

The money that has been transferred to my account is symbolic, the words I said in defiance to him more so…

“It’s mine, and you can’t have it!”

We both know that I don’t just mean the money I received upon my father’s death. I mean my life. I mean everything that remains of who I was and who I am and most of all, the potential for who I could be, out there in the world beyond this grim and painful existence with a human leach, intent on sucking all of the life and my very soul from me.

The world outside these four claustrophobic walls scares me witless and I am far too aware that I am weak, ill equipped and ill prepared to go into that night and make it through to the morning light, but I will take my chances nonetheless.

“It’s ours,” he almost hisses the words. After all these years, he thought he’d got me right where he wanted me. Trapped. Forever trapped. This show of defiance is not in his script.

I have seen what he does with anything and everything that is ours. His control is total and it is brutal. Gradually, he eroded my access to money. I couldn’t buy the clothes I wanted to wear and eventually I had no choice when it came to food. We didn’t go out. The extent of my world shrank and that included my ability to express myself.

He sees me, not as a person, but as his possession, and this inheritance of mine is his.

I take some comfort from the fact that the money that now sits in an account that he has no access to, an account I opened secretly so that I could secure these funds, came to me from my father. My dear Dad never liked Trevor. He warned me from the very start. Asked me to exercise caution and at least not rush anything. I did not heed his warnings and I resented his reserve and the wary way he conducted himself around my husband. I rejected my own father even as he asked if I was OK. All he ever wanted was for me to be OK. He wanted to help me when he could see my reality more clearly than I could.

Well, now he is helping me. I hope I can do him proud.

It’s never too late.

Never.

A shrill chirp cuts through the stale and thick air between us, making me jump. His face is a question, a dark and dangerous question, as I put down my now tepid and undrunk mug of tea, and I retrieve the mobile from my pocket. He has not seen this mobile before, and for good reason.

I answer the chirp, “yes, I’ll be right out.”

Ending the call, I face the man who made it his mission to put me through hell for thirty long and hard years. The man who corrupted my poor, innocent children.

“Who was that?” he demands, “what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

I smile sweetly, “that is my cab,” I tell him.

“A cab?” his face is quizzical, confused, “at this time of night?”

I never go out at this time of night. There would be hell to pay if I went out at this time of night.

I shrug and stand there looking at him for what I really do hope is for the very last time. Something passes between us and I read both comprehension and incomprehension in his eyes. Eyes that are softly scrolling in and out of focus.

What I see fascinates me. 

There was a way to subdue this beast after all.

I push my full mug of tea across the table towards him, some of it sloshes over the side. 

“Did you enjoy your tea?” I ask him with a hint of coquettishness to my words.

His eyes are focused on me now. Wide and focused, “how?”

You arrogant bastard! I think this to myself. His control was total. He had me exactly where he wanted me and he manipulated me. He used my own emotions to punish and torture me. He knew when I lied, or went against him in any way at all.

I have had to be careful. Just like him, I had to hide in plain sight, being something else to mask who I really was. Hiding what I was doing and providing him with the fantasy he so desired. A meek and mild victim who he could play with, stoking her up with promises that would never be fulfilled and then dragging her down and enjoying the pain this caused me.

Keeping everything together has been ever so difficult. One slip and I would have been done for, I had no doubt of that. Trevor has no conscience, he never bothered with consequences, or right and wrong. He is a creature of urge and impulse and that makes him exceedingly dangerous. He would not hesitate to hurt or even kill me. 

This is his lair.

This is his game.

And I am merely a pawn.

His possession.

The source of his next fix.

I put the powder in both of the mugs. I had to. My mind has been racing ever since I thought up my plan and began to think of my escape. It was all I could do to keep my hands from trembling as I handed him his mug of tea and I clasped mine betwixt the palms of both hands even though the boiling liquid scalded the flesh of my hands a vivid red. I could not afford to mix the mugs up. I could not afford to get any step of my plan wrong.

I’m in the home stretch now though. He’s drunk all the tea I made him like a good boy. I just hope I didn’t overdo the dose. I had to be sure that he would at least be drowsy and couldn’t stop me leaving.

“Sedatives,” I say to him.

“No!” he gasps.”

“I’m afraid so,” I tell him, “I found your stash and I swapped them with those little mints that you get in tins.”

The sedatives he had been using on me. Grinding them into my drinks and my food. Coming off the meds he had been slipping me made it so much easier to effect this plan of mine and I feel so much better now.

“How many?” he asks in a small, far away voice.

“All of them,” I tell him firmly and matter-of-factly.

His eyes go wide again.

“Don’t worry,” I tell him, “half of them went in my mug. I didn’t want to give you the wrong mug, or anything silly like that!”

He still looks worried. He looks very worried. 

Getting the mugs wrong should never have been a consideration, we have our own mugs, but I was never going to leave this to chance. I knew that were he to smell a rat, he would switch the mugs and make me drink every last drop of the drink intended for him.

He didn’t though. 

I won this time, and last goal wins.

“Bit…sch…” 

I think he tried to swear at me, but his tongue is thick and his eyes are closing. I step over to him and take the mug before his head lolls forward onto it. I lift mine too and I wash them both up, dry them and put them away. 

Before I leave, I carefully place the empty sedative bottle by his head.

Then I leave, and I don’t look back.

February 14, 2023 12:09

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6 comments

Lily Finch
04:23 Feb 23, 2023

Jed, Interesting story; it reminds me of the saying, "you can't outfox a fox." In this case, she becomes the fox catching on to his way of controlling her with sedatives. She is the sly fox playing everything out perfectly. "After all these years, he thought he’d got me right where he wanted me. Trapped. Forever trapped. This show of defiance is not in his script." "“All of them,” I tell him firmly and matter-of-factly." Thanks for the good read. LF6.

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Jed Cope
11:51 Feb 23, 2023

Glad you enjoyed it. I loved that she turned the tables and found a way to outfox him!

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Lily Finch
15:59 Feb 23, 2023

Yes, you get a sense of rooting for her all along in the story waiting for a change. :) LF6.

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Jed Cope
21:58 Feb 23, 2023

Willing her along and wanting her to succeed...

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21:06 Feb 21, 2023

Woah, that was powerful, and way too close to home— with a few exceptions (I got out in time to save my kids, and didn't have to drug him, otherwise... pretty spot on.) Well written, and had me riveted til the end. I really needed to see how it turned out. Nice Job!

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Jed Cope
10:31 Feb 22, 2023

Thanks for the feedback. I'm always glad when a story resonates, but in this case, I am also sorry that you had to go through that. The sad and frightening thing is that it's a case of Russian roulette, it could happen to anyone. Thinking that we'd know better and spot the signs is so off the mark. Also, I fear that it is more prevalent than most would guess it to be...

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