Desire Deprived Destroyed

Submitted into Contest #155 in response to: Set your story in a kids’ playground, or at a roundabout.... view prompt

42 comments

Sad Suspense

The power of routine is often underappreciated. The influence of predictability on one's life can be mighty. I found myself a victim to the overlord named habit that particular day when I woke up, got dressed in my business best, and sat in my car scratching my head as flashes of forgetfulness made me immobile. 


As I placed my hands on the steering wheel in repose, I finally remembered - I was unemployed. I hadn’t fully digested yet the impact my firing from my place of employment would have on my life. Suddenly I was the useless one around the house. I walked inside to see my wife heading towards the door. She laughed as she realized what I did, and kissed me goodbye as she exited our house. I remember the brightness in her eyes, the gleam that sullied my most horrid dreams. She truly made me a better man. 


I kicked off my shoes, unbuttoned my shirt, and turned on the television to indulge in early morning reruns of Full House. As the hours passed, the sunlight dispersed through the house and awoke my daughter. She walked downstairs to where I was, carrying her ‘blankie’ with her. She smelt like spoilt milk, but nothing in this world could have stopped me from drowning her in kisses.


But as delightful as fatherhood was, no one could survive the invasive inquiries of a five-year-old. Her mother and I were never ones to birch her adolescent curiosity, but there was a limit to it. As the sun rose above our heads, I found myself all the more irritated by the constant, never-ending tune of Wheels on the Bus playing on her iPad. So, I dressed her in decent, comfortable clothes and made our way toward the neighborhood playground. 


Like everything else in Texas, the playground was massive. I had never seen it so deserted and vacant, but what parent would be free enough to bring their child to a playground on a Tuesday afternoon unless they were unemployed. While I left my little architect to construct her unstable castles made of dry sand, I found refuge on a bench aptly situated under the shade of an Oak tree. 


I had always been comfortable with introspection. While most people ran away from their true selves, choosing to put on masks and cloaks to hide their wounds, I was never one of those. I always wore my heart on my sleeve and displayed my wounds with pride. I suspect that was one of the qualities my wife liked about me. I had purposefully left my phone and computer at home that day so that the eventual boredom would compel me to think of a way to advance in life. I had served myself and my family well working as a lawyer, but now that that part of my life was over, I had to formulate what to do moving forward. 


My daughter wore bright pink shorts that day. They were so bright, you could see them from a mile away. But that was who she was - warm, friendly, and inviting. I was proud of the way we had raised her. But the more I thought about my career, the more frightened I became about her future. What if I never earn enough again? What if I become uninspiring as a father? Would she still love me even if I couldn’t provide for her? 


As my mind submerged itself in such agonizing thoughts, I saw someone approach the bench I was sitting on. As I turned around, I realized it was my neighbor. I didn’t remember his name. He was an acquaintance and nothing more. He was always a peculiar personality. He often avoided gatherings and parties with obviously foolish excuses. So, we never bothered fostering a relationship. And seeing him there, I was conflicted about what to think, and what to say to him. 


“Hi! I’m Gabe,” he greeted me saving me the trouble of awkwardly starting the conversation. I nodded confidently. “What brings you to the park?” I asked. He didn’t have any children, so there was little reason for him to be there that day. “I was just on a walk and decided to take a break. I do this often, don’t worry!” He reassured me despite me not voicing my suspicions. 


The impression he gave me that day was the stark opposite of what I thought of him before. He was humorous and philosophical. Perhaps, he really was a busy man and not avoiding us. As an attorney, I developed a keen eye for certain details. Whether it be extreme demands hidden in the fine print of a contract or an obvious scheme to derail my clients, I had always been good at spotting the details. It was those very same eyes and keen sense for detail that made me notice his nose. 


It wasn’t a disfigured nose. It was … unusual. As slim and narrow as it was at the top, it somehow dilated into a monstrosity towards its bottom end. “Is everything okay with your nose? I hope you don’t mind me asking,” I asked making sure to maintain an over-polite tone. 


“Oh, my nose. Yeah, it’s just what it is.” 


But somewhere my instincts told me that I was missing something. Something so clear and obvious, that it was escaping my immediate intuition. Nevertheless, I put aside all thoughts of suspicion when I heard my daughter's voice as she ran toward me. 


“Daddy, daddy, you need to come with me,” she tugged my hand prompting me to follow her. I excused myself, only to find myself crouched down in the sandbox, looking at my little girl as she explained the different features of her already crumbling sand castle where Prince Eric was going to live with Cinderella. Her eyes shone as she talked about the windows and the stairs and the grand gardens. She was most excited about the little stable where all the unicorn ponies were going to be housed. 


But my instincts never lie, and they didn’t that day either. As I looked at her, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were showing me - the very same nose as Gabe. Sometimes suspicions need no evidence. They are truths unto themselves. No tears formed in my eyes, no anger rushed to my cheeks, and no despair filled my heart. Instead, I was disappointed. Disappointed that the girl I loved so deeply, whom I called ‘princess’ was not my own. But it wasn’t her fault. It was her mother’s. 


I had overestimated just how intelligent I was, and how well I knew her, for she was just so deceptive with her actions that I thought her a trustworthy partner. But she was just a whore. I didn’t bother continuing my conversation with Gabe. I could tell that the sky was a little lower than it was before, the ground a little more feeble, and the world was slowly turning against me. As I entered my house, I couldn’t feel the cold air from the AC - I was helplessly sweating. 


Doubt was something I had despised from a very young age. I still remember the nights when my parents would fight over the most derisory of matters. It always ended the same way. She would call him a worthless husband, and he would call her a disloyal bitch. They never cared to know how their son was doing amidst their fights for if they did, they would have found me in my makeshift ‘fort’ made of towels and a camping tent in my room. 


As I rummaged through the cupboards and drawers and boxes looking for something that would reassure me of what I already knew, I felt like I was becoming a prisoner. A prisoner of unfounded suspicion on the person that I loved the most. Of the person that loved me. The one person who made a vow to walk through life by my side in health and sickness. 


I crouched down in pain. My body was fine, but there was an aching that I couldn’t place. The answers that I needed were evading me and the more I thought about it, the more my own body was attacking itself. Where would she hide her deepest secrets? A buzz in my pocket alerted me. I unlocked my phone to a notification from Facebook:


It’s Madelyn DeWolls Birthday! Wish her a Happy Birthday!


My feet started to feel cold as I made my way into the study. My vision slowed. My heart was now numb to its own existential purpose. Why would she entrust me with her account’s password if she didn’t trust me completely? What kind of a man am I to doubt my own wife? Is this right? 


But the questions never arrived as fast as my fingers were moving. Password, entered. Browser, opened. Facebook, opened. Profile, opened. Friends, and there he was. Gabe McClinton. IT specialist at Bank of America. Single. Can speak four languages. Feminist. Fitness enthusiast. 


The blue chat button flashed at the bottom of the screen. 


15 unread messages from Gabe McClinton


I could sense that I was becoming something different in my daughter's eyes. As I sat there in front of that computer, to her I was becoming a stranger. She hid behind the door, peeking at me like I was some sort of an intruder in her father's disguise. Hell, I couldn’t recognize myself either. But my mind was made. I knew what I needed to do.


I saw Gabe again a few days later. That was of course the day I was arrested. I had called the police to come and get me after I had murdered my wife and daughter. I saw him as I was escorted out and placed in the backseat of the police car. His eyes fixed on me, I couldn’t quite decipher what they were carrying - hatred? Surprise? Shock? I could sense that he cared for them. He may have even hoped for a life with them when I would have left them. But I was never one to make myself miserable for someone else’s comfort. So I chose to deprive of him what he deprived of me. 


But my first day in prison was the day I finally slept a new, free man. 

July 22, 2022 03:17

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42 comments

Brynn Helena
03:40 Jul 22, 2022

wowza i was not expecting that!! this has a very interesting premise, i just wish that there was a bit more lead up to the shocking ending. i don't think the man you presented us with in the beginning gave the impression he was even capable of the ending ... i would love to have seen little glimpses of his unraveling. perhaps his run-in with gabe being the last straw. also, the nose being the way he finds out is a little peculiar ... lots of people have similar noses haha! at any rate, i can tell from the way you describe things and build on...

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Pranav Nalam
12:30 Jul 22, 2022

Thank you so much for the feedback! I honestly thought the nose reveal was a great idea for some reason haha. I should have taken the unraveling a little slower! Thank you!

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Pranav Nalam
22:28 Jul 22, 2022

I went ahead and made some changes....I would love to hear your opinion of the story now 😁

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Brynn Helena
23:17 Jul 22, 2022

definitely better and more compelling!! the finding of further evidence enriches the entire story. i think you could ease the reader a bit better into what our MC decides to do at the end. maybe he lies awake at night seething in silence, wondering what he should do to get back at them. make him more unhinged, give him a big breaking point! i think that would be the cherry on top, and really allow for the MC to come to life and be that much more realistic. your edits are GREAT though, you should be proud of that!

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22:31 Jul 25, 2022

The ending definitely caught me off guard, I really liked it, because the way he was talking and thinking, especially towards his wife and daughter, you would never think that he was capable of such a thing, so it was such a shock

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Pranav Nalam
22:42 Jul 25, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Tommy Goround
05:24 Jul 23, 2022

The comments are almost as interesting as the story.

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Pranav Nalam
13:19 Jul 23, 2022

I can always appreciate a good discussion!

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22:31 Jul 25, 2022

Literally, I love seeing people actually discussing the work and the author responding with their own thoughts

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Alize Henry
01:27 Aug 03, 2022

This story is so very well written. It is too sad. I am sorry he killed his wife and daughter just to hurt Gabe. What if he were wrong? What if he were having a psychotic episode? What if he imagined all this? You did well on this one Pranav. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

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Sarah P.
13:24 Jul 25, 2022

I love the twist at the end! I was not expecting that!! Awesome story tho!

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Pranav Nalam
13:25 Jul 25, 2022

Thank you so much!!

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Rebecca Scott
01:52 Jul 24, 2022

That was a great story! I was invested the entire time wondering what would happen and wow you didn’t disappoint with that ending. I was shocked.

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Pranav Nalam
01:55 Jul 24, 2022

Thank you so much!

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💫 Sophia 💫
17:15 Jul 23, 2022

Wow, wow, wow! This story was so good, I am still going over it in my mind. There is no doubt you are very talented writer. I seriously can't express how much I love this story it is just truly a masterpiece. Also if you don't mind would you read some of my stories and give some feedback, it'd be greatly appreciated. If your ever bored or free one day and would like to collaborate on a story let me know! I'm confident you'd be a pleasure to work with. :) -Sophia

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Pranav Nalam
23:28 Jul 23, 2022

Thank you so much for the comment! I will check out some of your work and provide feedback for sure!

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Mj Payne
16:28 Jul 23, 2022

Ah! What a crazy and awful twist at the end! Not at all what I expected! I Liked the imagery created with the personification you used in the beginning with habit being an overlord.

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Pranav Nalam
16:40 Jul 23, 2022

Thank you so much!!!

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Philip Ebuluofor
11:56 Jul 23, 2022

The flow Is second to none. Two submissions?-you are good.

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Pranav Nalam
13:19 Jul 23, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:45 Jul 26, 2022

Welcome.

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Kathleen `Woods
01:40 Jul 23, 2022

This was a good base take on familicide, at least in the legal sense. The lead-in matched up pretty well with the more common mental preamble to this kind of crime at least in that direction. The Mains financial issues & previous high status job, the disappointment he displays with his family, the daughter is even within the average age for child victims of paternal perps. I can't say its not too edgy for some, but the pieces once they come up are well inline with the ending. As far as the portrayal of a crime this was pretty distilled eve...

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Pranav Nalam
03:16 Jul 23, 2022

Thank you so much! In my head the bad guys were always good guys at one point, and the flip to the dark side is much more interesting than the crimes they commit later on. But I guess that is just me being an amateur who needs more exposure to different stories. I appreciate your comment!

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Kathleen `Woods
04:07 Jul 23, 2022

Oh I get that, the flip point is really interesting if it's accessible. In real life that moment tends to be a bit too far in the deep-time of a continual offender to really be remarked upon, so short sequence crimes like these are usually the ticket as far as portraying that line. You mentioned it so I'm curious, what exposure you've had already? The gap between what a person takes-in and what they produce can be pretty vast, so it would be pretty cool to see how far it is in this case.

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Pranav Nalam
13:17 Jul 23, 2022

Well, I'm a 19 year old Cell Biology student. I never had the habit of going to the library, picking up a book and reading it. The only books Ive read have been recommended by my closest friends, or assigned reading at school. I am trying to write now because there is one particular story I can't get out of my head and I want to put that in a book.

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Kathleen `Woods
01:50 Jul 24, 2022

That's a good goal, I'd say that this is a pretty good way to train yourself also. I can't say I'm all that good about pleasure-reading either, I rarely do it with my eyes. :) it took me way too long to make that joke. I feel like I should either ask about your book plans or how well your friend's book recs treat you? Like, what's your luck?

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Pranav Nalam
01:59 Jul 24, 2022

they usually don't recommend a book unless they think id like it, so that is a pretty good filter I have there. As far as my book goes, I am just writing as much and as fast as I can...😁

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Mike Panasitti
00:24 Jul 23, 2022

This was an interesting read. I have a protagonist who has trouble with jealousy as well (see "Safe Spot"), but he doesn't go to such problematic extremes as your MC. I felt compelled to read your story all the way through, but some DNA tests and a no-knock out rule boxing match would've settled the conflict much more to my liking. But even a fight could've brought the MC unfavorable consequences. There's no way a man should ever allow himself to do prison time because he can't deal with his emotions. Glad to see that Brynn Helena'...

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Pranav Nalam
01:15 Jul 23, 2022

Oh the boxing match would have been an amazing idea! But I wanted the MC to crumble as a man. I wanted him to be so hurt by the betrayal that he chooses to destroy his world in his darkest moment rather than find a meaningful way out of the mess. Thanks for the comment!

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Mike Panasitti
14:19 Jul 23, 2022

Just remember, the story we feed people's imaginations can affect or reinforce their worldviews and sometimes even their behaviors. If I were a depressive or pre-psychotic reader having issues with the fidelity of a partner, the last thing I'd need to read is a story where someone in a similar situation commits a double homicide to cope with their despair.

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Miguel P
11:16 Jul 31, 2022

Very well written. I could feel the emoition pouring out from your main character as if this was ripped from real life. The plot twist atthe end was certainly very shocking and was not seen coming, but it could have used a little lead up to the final climax. All in all, good job. Keep up the good work!!

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Michele Foley
17:54 Jul 29, 2022

Loved this. Definitely not the ending I expected. At first, I wanted to hear a little more of the back and forth with wifey after being confronted. But now that I've read it again, I don't want it.

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Aiden Otaktay
22:25 Jul 27, 2022

"He was always a peculiar personality. He often avoided gatherings and parties with obviously foolish excuses." Hmm, sounds like me... Okay, w o a h- I don't even know what to say- I was wondering the whole time what would happen next! I like the way you started off the story by telling how much he's worried about providing his family, and then at the end he kills both of them- it just shows how brutally hurt he was. Hats off to you, Pranav! I'm looking forward to reading more of your work

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Pranav Nalam
22:45 Jul 27, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Aiden Otaktay
22:45 Jul 27, 2022

:>

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T.S.A. Maiven
04:57 Jul 27, 2022

Great story! What an ending! Keep up the good work.

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Pranav Nalam
22:45 Jul 27, 2022

Thank you very much!

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Aesha Amin
01:43 Jul 27, 2022

Heya! I think this was a really intriguing story. You led the readers to believe the main character was just an average father with his worries (of unemployment and fatherhood) before revealing a much sinister personality! There are some places you could improve upon: “I had purposefully left my phone and computer at home…” I think “purposely” would do better than “purposefully”. “My daughter wore bright pink shorts that day. They were so bright, you could see them from a mile away.” I think you could substitute “bright” with another adj...

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Pranav Nalam
22:46 Jul 27, 2022

Thank you for the feedback. Honing my craft is what I am here for. Thanks for the tips!

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Chris Holland
01:10 Jul 27, 2022

A very unexpected twist at the end. It came suddenly and was brutal, a little disturbing I thought but a well written tale which had me hooked till the end.

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Pranav Nalam
22:46 Jul 27, 2022

Thank you for your kind words!

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