“Please, don’t do it.”
His fingers dig into the flesh of my lower abdomen and my vision blurs as his bright blue eyes get swallowed by dark corners.
“You brought this onto yourself,” he tells me, voice trembling with bitter rage, his smile as sharp as the blade clenched between his teeth.
He reached up and put his hand on my face, stroking the side of my left cheek with his thumb. Our eyes locked with a fierce intensity and I knew my fear wasn’t what was hindering my breath but the endless stretches of cobalt blue.
His thumb brushes over my lower lip as he speaks, “I wonder if your lips are still soft and subtle,” His voice has gone velvety, and he draws my lips towards his. “Tell me, do they still have that rich, tangy, sweet taste?”
I still remember the way he would pull me into his arms, a cluster of hostile nerves dancing beneath my stomach to greet him. He would lean forward, eyes searching my face before planting a warm kiss on my lips, gently biting my lower lip to tease me. When we parted his hand was always on top of my chest, my heart trembling beneath his fingertips.
He was laughing, I was crying. Then he jerks my head forward and almost snaps my neck in two, just to remind me that I fell for every lie, every perfectly curved smile.
Despite his hatred for me, that moment stayed in my mind, nurturing the soul within me. I look into his eyes, begging for him to stop, giving him one last chance to walk away but his expression is the same, dark, vacant, and hungry.
Then he takes his knife and drives it in between my ribs and up my chest.
I wake in a pool of sticky blood, fighting my way out of an anxiety attack that has started brewing in my chest. The man in gray is nowhere to be found.
I am alone.
The pain is electric, burning through all my defenses and it takes me five minutes just to lift my head.
I sucked in gulps of air, and the pain in my ribs intensified. “You’re alright,” I say to calm myself down. I should be dead but I’m not. “You’re alright.”
I roll to my side and that’s when my blood overflows my lungs, suffocating me like a sponge soaked in water, and I’m certain that if I didn’t die before I would now.
My agony spills out in stabbing spurts, rippling over my skin in the form of fresh tears. The silence was heavily throbbing and for just a second I begged for someone to find me so my suffering could end.
I hear a rattling at the door and I scramble to my feet, catching my reflection in the mirror dizzily: curly hair disheveled, skin-tight, dark eyes wild and smoldering.
So this is what being in love looked like.
What the hell was love if it wasn’t me and him?
I found my way to the door, dragging my feet behind me and clutching my chest with one hand. I peeked through the window before deciding to open it, just trees. Whoever was there was gone now.
My eyes scan the street, hoping for it to be empty but it’s a bright day out, full of people dressed head to toe in dark blue. The crisp white dress I was wearing was now stained a glossy reddish-brown. I head back inside and try to think of my next move. He might come back here. I had no choice but to run.
My legs feel numb and I am trembling as I start cleaning the blood on my chest. I rip the bottom of my dress and use the piece of fabric to cover my wound, wrapping it three times before tying it. I lean against the door, taking a break, and gasp, gritting my teeth when the cold doorknob touches the sensitive side of my chest.
The microchip that’s snug beneath the skin on my neck is glowing red which means I don’t have much time left to live. The bolts fastened inside my elbow are tightened making it harder to extend my arm and I wish I could have just a moment to rest, to think of a better plan than this but there’s no time. It won’t be long when the rest of the bolts inside me start to lock and I won’t be able to move at all.
I slip out the door and walk down the sidewalk with my head down. As I ventured out of the neighborhood I found myself at a farmer’s market with booths filled with all kinds of things but nothing I could stomach. Then I am hit with a rich, sickly sweet aroma.
Strawberries. I used to wear strawberry-flavored lip balm all the time.
And now my mind wanders back to him. How did he do it? How did he memorize the taste of my lips when all I could hear was the pounding of my erratic heartbeat every time he kissed me? It almost justifies my theory that there’s a heart, a swarm of pulsing arteries among the metal. That he might just be like me.
But I was wrong.
Warm sweaty fingers enclosed my wrist. “Hey! Don’t move!”
“I’m just trying to get home,” I say.
“You’re wearing the wrong color.”
I curse under my breath.
He tugs my arm and I slowly turn around. He is tall, with faded blonde brown hair and an enlarged belly. He looks at me and blinks. “Is that blood? How is that possible? Unless-”
My hand is at his face before I can think, fingers clawing his eyes, itching to hold on to the cold metal.
Then I rip his eye out of its socket pulling out a jumbled line of blue and red wires that entwine between my fingers.
I remember a time when I would have given anything to be just like him, to be just like everyone else. Another trinket among metal and computer programming.
A crowd is standing around me, calculating my existence, trying to figure out how I ended up here.
He falls to the floor with a thud and I use that to turn around and stagger past them.
They won’t know what to do with me. They’ve never dealt with a malfunction before. A mistake.
I take a deep breath and start to stop jogging when a hand clamps down over my mouth. My heart lurches and I want to scream but I have to remember they don’t have any emotions. No one will come running to save me. I swing my body around, shoving whoever was behind me.
“Damn you’re still alive.” He tells me. I flinch, my gaze coming up to his.
It’s him, the man in grey. Soft dark brown curls fall around his face. He lets a slow lazy smile stretch along the curve of his mouth.
For once, all I feel toward him is red hot anger and the worst part is that I’m not even that mad at him. I’m angrier at myself.
“When you left me, my heart went under and the pain submerged in my bloodstream because, without you, I had nowhere else to go,” I say, my hands clenched at my sides.
He blinks at me, bored with what I said. He still, after everything, doesn't seem to care.
“It’s not my fault that you fell in love with me,” he says with a scathing look, eyes clouded.
Then my last bolt screws shut, the one located in my knee and I feel my body falling. The ground comes in contact with my skin in an abrupt force, pain shooting everywhere. My head is at his feet.
He takes a step towards me as if to crush my face and squats looking me in the eyes as he tilts his head.
He watches me and for a split second I think he feels bad but then he leaves me lying there as I take my final breath.
I notice that my dress has faded to grey.