“I just feel like nobody cares anymore,” Gavin sighed, leaning his fist under his chin as he sat cross-legged on the sofa. The room was silent except for the gentle hum of the A.C. and the sound of the man’s therapist, Anna, scribbling notes onto her pad. The walls were speckled with paintings of sunflowers and oceans, contrasted only by the abundance of shiny certification papers Anna had proudly amassed. The carpet was plain, the wallpaper was plain, the sofa was plain. The muted color palette was both calming and a bit frustrating. Even Anna's clothes were black and beige. Gavin’s eyes trained themselves onto the woman, watching as she nodded her head empathetically, her pen finally lifting from her paper.
Gavin had always found her attractive, which was part of the reason he had chosen her as his therapist. He had no interest in speaking to a man, and just about as much disinterest conversing with a woman who he deemed ‘unsuitable’ for himself. He was a few inches over six foot, leanly built, and had the type of face that you smiled at in the aisles of a grocery store. He would smile back.
In high school, he had longer black hair that fell into his sage green eyes. Since, he had cut it short, leaving a few inches of length on the top of his head, but getting it cleanly shaven elsewhere. No facial hair, of course. He found that people with facial hair (usually) annoyed him and didn't want to emulate them in any way. He also preferred to accentuate his angular bone structure and sharp eye shape, and found that a clean-shaven face was best for this. He considered himself above-averagely handsome. Often times, women would come up to him on the street and ask him questions or give him compliments, while he found this annoying, he also saw the flattery in their pestering. He never entertained any of their efforts, though.
“How long have you been feeling this way, John?” Anna asked finally, in her usual sympathetic tone. Honestly, he'd forgotten what they were talking about. He noticed Anna had written down 'fear of irrelevancy??' on her page and circled it. They were only about five feet from one another, he could almost always read her notes. He'd wondered before if she did this on purpose. Gavin stared at her as he thought up a response. She squirmed under his gaze, and then he answered.
“Nobody pays attention. I used to do things and people would react. I’m starting to think I’m not doing enough…” He paused and then went on with a bit more passion, “Shit. Maybe I’m just doing the wrong things.”
Anna scribbled and then chewed the cap of her pen as she looked over her notes, “Have you considered the fact that you might be letting too much ride on what the people around you have to say? You told me last week how you brought Wendy flowers and she didn’t give you the response you wanted … but did giving her the flowers make you feel good?”
Gavin looked off at the wall, his eyes fixed on a painting of the beach, a few dolphins swimming in the intensely blue waters. He noted that the painting didn't evoke much emotion in him, in fact, as he looked all he thought was how amateurish the artist's work truly looked. Blinking back to the task at hand, he thought about Anna's question. Feel good? Did he feel good? Each time he blinked he saw Wendy in his mind. As he adjusted his weight on the sofa, he clenched and unclenched his jaw.
“Sure, in the moment it felt ... nice,” Gavin admitted, giving a small nod toward Anna.
“See?” Anna smiled gently, “So, why do you think you feel the need to get approval from others?”
Gavin swallowed, tapping his foot slowly on the beige, shag carpeting of the office. He felt slightly offended that she was insinuating he needed something from anybody, especially validation. If anybody had a problem it was them, not him. Anna must have felt that Gavin was growing impatient with the line of questioning, because suddenly she changed the subject.
“Have you found any more efficient ways of relieving yourself of stress recently, John?” Anna asked with optimism in her voice, obviously wanting to make up for earlier. Gavin decided to let her misstep go (for now), and let out a breath as he relaxed back into the couch once again. Still, though, he had a rather tight grip on the armrest. He was on edge.
“I’ve been cleaning. I find the process to be relaxing, as well as productive,” Gavin said simply, and Anna looked pleased with that answer. The woman shifted and crossed her legs the other way. Gavin’s eyes dipped to her calves in her black pencil skirt, then back up to her face as she tucked a strand of her thick, blonde hair behind her ear. When she noticed the man’s hungry stare she adjusted her circular glasses, her cheeks momentarily blushing under his gaze. Gavin smirked ever so slightly at this.
“Cleaning, huh?” She chuckled, her demeanor slightly flirtatious now, “Maybe you could come clean my house for me.”
Gavin chuckled along with her, always loving to feel like he had made an incision into what was supposed to be their strictly professional relationship. Anna insisted the two of them were nothing more than doctor and patient, but Gavin knew the tension between them wasn’t just a one-sided affair. The man’s eyes bounced around the room for a moment and then landed on Anna’s desk, and subsequently on a photo of the woman’s husband. The overweight man, nearly twice Anna’s age, was pictured in some sports jersey, surrounded by a wooden picture frame painted with a child’s fingerprints. Her son, Mac, was in his own frame on the other side of the desk. He had Anna’s doughy brown eyes, and slightly crooked smile. Gavin could admit that the boy was cute, something he rarely thought about anyone or anything.
“Your husband doesn’t clean?” Gavin questioned, his gaze snapping right back to Anna, who seemed to flinch at the question’s bluntness. He liked to catch her off guard this way. There was a bit of a cat and mouse feel to it that excited him.
“We’re here to talk about you,” Anna replied, trying to muster a tone that didn’t give away her true emotions. She was constantly exhausted under her cheery, empathetic facade. No doubt she was the only one working around that house. You could see it in the bags under her eyes, no matter how much concealer she wore. Or in the way she slipped her sore heels out from her shoes during their sessions as if to rest her feet for a while.
“I’m not as interesting as you, Anna,” Gavin countered charmingly. Anna swallowed as she broke their gaze, trying to hide her flustered expression as she adjusted her glasses once again.
“That’s the issue, isn’t it, John?” Anna asked with once again drooping eyes, getting them back on track, “You feel like you’re becoming irrelevant to everyone in your life. But you have so much you can offer!”
Gavin pinched the bridge of his nose, a bored expression covering his face. As much as he enjoyed his time with Anna each week, it was often difficult for him to keep up his front.
A bird chirped as it passed by the skylight in the ceiling, wisps of clouds floating overhead in the keyhole to the outside world. The A.C. kicked off with a small thud. The real silence had truly set in. Gavin realized then his grip on the couch was so tight he was beginning to pull the seams apart. He lifted his hand off of the armrest and wiped his palms down the front of his slacks.
“Anna, I have to admit something.”
The girl cocked her head to the side and furrowed her brows, leaning out of her leather chair toward Gavin.
“You can tell me anything, John.”
Gavin bit down on his tongue at the sound of her completely unsuspecting tone, fighting the wicked grin that threatened to spread across his face. Was all of this going a bit too far? How could something feel so right but be wrong?
“Gavin.” The man said, his voice teetering eerily close to laughter.
She looked confused, rightfully so. Oh, how he loved this part of the game.
“My real name is Gavin,” He clarified, feigning shame, “I’m sorry I lied to you.”
Anna seemed almost relieved at the confession and smiled gracefully, cooing, “I’m glad you told me, Gavin.”
Gavin squeezed his eyes shut for a second, clenching his teeth sheepishly, “There’s … something else, too.”
Anna, more comfortable than ever, looked at the man with friendly eyes, “Shoot.”
“Wendy. Her real name is Beth. Beth Miller.”
Anna’s nurturing expression faltered, somewhere between puzzlement, curiosity, and the slightest bit of horror. She knew. Maybe deep down she'd suspected it all along.
Outside another bird flew over head, perhaps they had landed together on the roof. Gavin could hear the sound of them cawing at one another.
Gavin interrupted, his voice suddenly a low growl.
“Do you watch the six o’clock news, Anna? Did you watch it last sunday night?"
All of the color drained from Anna's face as she sat opposite Gavin, her pen dropping out of her hand onto the carpet silently. When she spoke, her voice came out shaking, although you could tell she was fighting to keep herself together. She didn't want to believe it.
“This … This isn’t funny-“
Gavin stood and straightened his suit jacket before running a steady hand back through his midnight colored hair. The A.C. kicked back on, and Anna felt a shiver run down her spine.
“I assure you this is no laughing matter, Anna. Somebody like you could never understand how difficult it is to stuff a hundred pound woman with dozens of grocery store roses. I bet you'll understand the poetry of it all, though.”
Anna was up out of her chair now too, backing up slowly against the wall, knocking down the sunflower painting in the process. The thud made her jump like a startled cat. Gavin smiled at her, the way he always did, but the look in his eyes was one she had never seen before. He looked like an animal. What she had taken as lust for months, was actual thirst for blood. Suddenly, Anna’s knees began to buckle, and tears poured from her eyes before she could stop them.
“Beth Miller and I went to high school together. She was beautiful and smart. Played volleyball, I think. In ninth grade I bought her roses to ask her to the Spring Fling, and she threw them in my face in front of everyone.”
Anna was blubbering, begging for her life, cowering in front of Gavin on her knees. He didn’t listen, he needed her to hear this.
“So, ten years later, I unhinged her jaw with my hands and stuffed her like a turkey, Anna. I shoved my entire arm down her stupid fucking throat.”
The woman started screaming then, but Gavin grabbed her, putting his hand over her mouth with frightening swiftness. Anna could tell now how many times he had done this before. Beth wasn't the first, and she herself wouldn't be the last.
“I like you, Anna,” Gavin whispered, holding her small frame without much struggle. “but the women that I like … they always hurt me.”
Anna screamed against Gavin’s hand, causing the man to throw her into her desk, using little force to toss her like a rag doll. With his hands free, he pulled a large, serrated knife from the back of his pants. Anna held her head, nursing a bloody gash she had recieved from her collision with the furniture. Her glasses were strewn somewhere on the floor, her vision began to blur at the edges.
“This isn’t you, Gavin,” Anna pleaded, blood running down over her face in warm streams. She blinked tears and blood out of her eyes, trying as hard as she could to be able to see. She could feel the fear slithering up her throat, hot and thick. Her voice came out hoarse, and she nearly gagged on her words, but she fought against it, “I like you, too. You don’t have to do this. My son ... he needs me.”
Gavin stood, a fuzzy outline before Anna's eyes, the knife glinting in the sunlight that shone in from the skylight. The birds were quiet. All that remained was the constant hum from the air conditioning, and the sound of Anna sniffling as her tears continued to pour.
"Your son will be just fine," Gavin promised softly as he knelt down in front of Anna, taking her face into his free hand. She tried to pull away from him but his grip only tightened on her skin, his fingernails beginning to dig into her flesh.
"You're crazy, you're fucking crazy," Anna sobbed, quickly beginning to feel lightheaded as she lost more and more blood from her head. Gavin caressed her cheek, looking into her eyes with maybe even a bit of sympathy.
"Maybe I am," Gavin conceded, talking quietly, as if to a sleeping child, "But you helped me realize something today, Anna."
The woman looked at him, then at the knife, then back at him. She could feel her body shutting down slowly, whether from panic or blood loss she wasn't sure.
"I don't need their opinions," The man said finally, smiling at his own sick revelation, his hand covered in Anna's fresh blood, "Not as long as I feel good."
Anna cried some more, closing her eyes eventually, hoping this was all just some twisted dream she was about to wake up from.
Just as she felt herself slipping away, her eyes shot open as she felt the knife glide through her abdomen right between her ribs. And then again. And again. And again. Pins and needles crept up her body, and she felt further from herself than she ever had. Anna's last moments alive she leaned back against the side of the desk, trying to inhale but ultimately failing. She heard his footsteps retreat toward the door. The door opened, and he stepped out. Before he went he turned around and spoke through bits of depraved laughter.
"Same time next week?"
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I did not see that twist coming!! This was a very captivating read. Well done!
thank you so much!!! <33
Woah.. disturbing for sure. Did not see that ending coming!
thank you for reading!!! stay safe ;-)
Great story. The twist had me hooked. I liked how you created a sense of innocence in Gavin with "and had the type of face that you smiled at in the aisles of a grocery store. He would smile back." It made me wonder where the plot would go, and I wasn't expecting what actually happened. You can see you planned it all out. Having Gavin refer back to the advice Anna gave him (about feeling good) tied the story together quite nicely. I also liked the very ironic villainous ending line of "Same time next week?". The contrast of Gavin's charac...
thank you so much zoë!!! your feedback is greatly appreciated <333
wow thank you so much!! <333
You can write, gurl.
coming from you, that means a lot!
Gruesome, but disturbingly readable.
thanks so much :)
Thought him getting mad was because of his feeling irrelevant, like being called the wrong name by your therapist. Nope, red herring. Just a psycho hiding his true self. As a horror fan, well done. Descriptive, intense important dialogue, quite a roller coaster
glad you enjoyed it!! thanks for the comment :)
I really appreciate the way you are able to give me an anchor and impetus to keep looking for plot..... Then you sink in all of these lovely details that make it so crisp and interesting. Still reading just had to stop and say that
thank you so much!!! :)))
Brooo this was so good- I didn’t expect that twist at all. And I loved the circular narrative of it all; with what “giving flowers” really meant, and the whole “feeling good” concept. 👏🏾👏🏾
thank you so much!!!! i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment :))
Hey Brynn Loved this one and great writing, well done. One thing I was wondering was what is Gavin's motivation for killing his therapist? Did I miss something where it was clear that he wanted to kill her for a reason? Cheers
hey! thanks so much for reading. Gavin briefly mentions throughout the story that he likes Anna, finds her attractive, etc. he later states that when he likes women (similar to how he liked wendy/beth) they always end up hurting him. so i'd say he probably killed her because of this, and all of his other victims were probably women who he had relationships with presently or in the past. appreciate ur comment so much!! :)
Jeepers that was a good story. Your character portrayal was so good - not to mention that twist! Well done.
thanks so much andi!! i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment :)
Wowza, this story is absolutely incredible. I didn't see that ending coming. Such an amazing read. Your work is outstanding!!
thank you so much rae!! i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment :)
Hi Brynn, thanks for sharing your story! It's one of the stories that was sent to me to review for the Critique Circle. I really enjoyed reading it. Even though the conversation (internal and external) is the focus of the story, I liked where you described the AC, the colors, and the birds. Those things seemed to fit really well and gave us a break from the dialogue (which was so interesting, by the way). As a reader I could tell something was off at the beginning, but I didn't feel shock/horror until I read the sentence, "Somebody like y...
hi karen! thank you so much for reading my story and taking the time to write such a lengthy comment!! i appreciate all of your compliments, and am happy to hear your notes as well! i'm always interested to hear how other writers would approach something that i wrote myself. again, thanks a million!! <3
Even though the twist was dramatic, it felt natural and logical! Great characterization! Amazing read!
thank you so much!!<33
ohhhhhhh my... I felt physically sick while reading this (in the best way possible, of course). The lead up was absolutely perfect and the twist was so satisfying.
sorry to make you ill haha but thank you so much for reading!!! :) <3
Good, suspenseful story :) Gavin's behaviour threw a couple red flags at the beginning, but I'm thinking "maybe just a narcissist". In any case, a guy with issues, so going to therapy wasn't unusual. But then she called him John. That was a sign something deeper, more sinister was happening. Good pacing from there, leading to a dramatic twist. I think this is heading to a truly bloody conclusion. It won't take much work to piece together who had an appointment with Anna at the time of her death, and Gavin no longer desires approval fr...
thank you so much for reading!! i, too, am fascinated by Gavin as a character. i still don't know what he'd be up to after the carnage in this scene, but maybe i'll explore some kind of follow up or a prequel!! your feedback means the world :)
thank you :)
I love how this story immediately suggests that something is off about "John," starting with the great way you reveal he's actually named Gavin. It makes the ending believable as well as full of suspense. You also capture the tension of not-needing-approval as either a confident or, as in this case, sociopathic mindset. Well done!
thank you so much katy!!! i initially wondered if the reader would be too confused by the differing names, but i agree that it puts you a little bit on edge right from the start. glad you liked it! <3
Well, that was a wild ride. I could tell something was off with John/Gavin. I sensed a bit what was coming, but not to that degree. (Seems to me, that it will be obvious to the police who the killer is when her next client or secretary comes and find Anna's body. An interesting sequel could be the conversation/interrogation with a police detective or maybe Gavin and his lawyer. Just a thought...) As I commented on "Katie", I love stories that revolve around dialogue and conversation. You nailed it again. Write on.
i've already been thinking about a follow up to this one!! i'm glad, you too, noticed how careless Gavin was during this scene. that's definitely by design. ;-) once again, thank you so much for reading and commenting!
My pleasure. Speaking of follow ups, it would be badass if a female lawyer or cop gets the best of our serial killer. I'm sure you've thought of the same. Just saying it would be awesome. I'm currently writing (and stuck in freaking limbo) a story where the mother of a victim of a serial killer speaks to him in prison and tries to get the final upper hand. Write on.
ALWAYS love to see a woman get the better of a man!! your story sounds riveting!! hopefully your limbo ends soon; fingers crossed
Wow…didn’t see that end coming. Good job!! :D
thanks for reading!!! :) <3