He’ll pretend it’s love as he brushes back her damp bangs, the sweat glistening under the harsh lights. Her chest feebly rising and falling, rising and falling. He presses his lips to her cold forehead, silently telling her what she wants to know – needs to know. Her frail hand grips his shirt, weakly as a child, asking for something he cannot give. Will not give. His own black eyes are filled with forced sympathetic gleam, mimicking what husbands are supposed to do for their wives. What he could never really do. A mocking bird, he is – able to mimic emotions he never had. He can force himself to cry, make his dark eyes fill with light and blend into the background. Become anyone he wants to be. Ideally.
He touches her face, his fingers testing her sickly skin, too pale, too weak. She looks transparent to his eyes, a jellyfish trapped on land. Her heart beating through frost skin. He ignores the sterile, stale smell of sick, the too white walls, the incessant beeping of the monitors. He ignores the smell of the internal sickness that’s festering deep in her body, seeping out of her pores. The muffled sounds and voices of the doctors and nurses, right outside the door slither through the open crack, but it doesn’t invade his ears.
His fingers drag over the bandage of her throat. Something burns deeply on the edges of his body – something enticingly dark that revels in sweet revenge. His eyes rests on her throat. The wound is festering with infection, silencing her constantly annoying and pointless chatter – “Clowns? I fucking hate clowns – add fangs or magical powers? Hell no!” “Listen here, you ass! Stop blowing me up! We’re on the same damn team! It’s Halo – stop blowing me up!” “How did you know? They’re gorgeous.” “I love you.” Pointless. Unremarkable, utterly forgettable. He stares into the jade of her eyes. The color once meant power, control in a far away land and time, now, no longer. He sees how she tries to fan the flames of life.
Bastards. Dead bastards now. A sadistic grin hiding behind a loving smirk.
He presses a kiss to her throat, hearing her chest rattle with broken bones, her lungs struggle to expand. There is a strength of age old trees who stood for a thousand years and still refused to wither. He reaches his hand behind her neck and watches as she struggles to keep her eyes open, lids to not flutter close. So trusting she was – it would be so easy to wrap his hands and watch the life fade away. Perhaps, but not today. No, not today. Maybe tomorrow.
She’s lost in the great sea, the void engulfing her as mermaids tuck her into the silky waves. He can see the white sand cushioning her body, the small bubbles of air escaping to the surface, to freedom. In her light sleep, her lip starts to bleed – overly dry and cracking. Dehydrated. He kisses it away, tasting the metallic flavor on his tongue. The old biddies were talking about her, he knew. Old nosy women who try to pry them apart – back home. Spreading vile gossip and rumor about how she ended up so beaten and shattered. For once, they paid him no heed – a new victim to terrorize and bring down. His wife had been his protection against the gossips, a shield. A distraction from the darkness that lingered beneath the surface of his skin. He was not the doting husband and father nor the good samaritan – he never had the capacity to feel, emote. He was an empty oblique, nothing there, not even if he tried. He never did.
Now, they latched onto her. He wants to devour their crackly, scaly skins.
A shivering breath escapes him, unknown he was holding it as she shifts against him. The bruises had yet to fade from her form, splattering her with color. The world saw him as charming, sweet, harmless. His mask was perfect, able to meld into any role, play any part presented to him. He was a wolf in a seamless sheep’s wool. Her eyes snapped open, still dreaming in horror as she opened her mouth to scream. No sound left and she was back to being still. She was different, his wife. She had remained by his side, even as his mask had slipped off during their first meeting. He pulled the sheet further up her body, shielding it from the invisible prying eyes.
They’ll pay for this. They had. It would never be enough.
The burning began again, anger. She was his to live and breathe as he chooses. The flashing images of the TV linger in the corner of his eyes. His head snaps at the screen, the parasites lapping up the brutality she suffered, parading their new blood – her blood – for all the world to see. Pixelated pictures put on a freak show, a circus for its attendees to ‘oooo’ and ‘aaah’ over. Her humiliation for the world to cheer and giggle gleefully at. She is now for the ridicule of strangers and relatives alike. He wants to smash that mocking, glowing eye. Banish it into every reporters’ prying snouts. Shove it into the mouths of the doctors and staffs.
Her pain means nothing to him – he doesn’t give a damn if she bleeds out before him. If she decides to shatter herself into a thousand glittering pieces. As long as he was the one to do it, to lead her there. He looks around their white tiny cell, the white compressing down on them. They are still alone, this room where people are left to die. There’s the urge to rip himself away from the sickly, pathetic, weakening form – shove her as far as he could from his own healthy, warm body. This isn’t his blubbering mess – this frail, festering thing of an infected wound. Yet, no matter how he wants to destroy her, annihilate her, blame her, she remains. Stupidly close, stupidly trusting.
No, no, he decides to stay. He knows better than to violently extricate himself. He always finds ways to underhandedly bully her, push her around, try to push the limit of her obliviousness. After all, he was such a good boy. Who would ever suspect him?
He grins maliciously. He thanks his multiple parental units. The ones who taught him how the simplest of smiles could manipulate the sweetest of souls – how to use impressions, perception and images to his advantage. He learns on his own how to control the hot bloodied void inside. He never actually beat her, abused her, nothing that would ever be consider hurtful. They argue, but it was expected. The nastiness is always kept deep inside him, always shielding her.
“Anders, keep an eye out for the kid!” the static voice from nowhere. Everywhere. The sound of heavy boots stomped across the dirty floors, wood creaking from the massive weights. A pair of black boots stopped before him. The boots that could easily shatter, crack his fragile calcium skeleton. They pierced his peaceful silence.
He, the child, sat in the blood, his hands and arms red, skin color red and bruised. The blood mingled around him, seeped into the floor below, confirming all he had been indoctrinated with. He was the demon the units had attempted to exterminate, destroy. An unnatural abomination they had claimed, brainwashed, tormented. He devoured his mother, led his father and sister to the grave. Monsters were always hungry, oh, so hungry. They devoured the living, supping on their souls. The tiny little demon monster he was hell bent to be. His empty eyes heard static, trying to remember what he should feel.
It was something his parental units took away. Something they lacked themselves. No wonder they turned on each other during a drunken phase. Left each other for dead. But him. They left him to watch a nightmarish horror. He knew what would come next, what always did. The blame, the hate, the pain – his fault. The demon who’s existence was a pestilence.
He decided to wait, to not let the mask beat him, rip him, ashen him. He waited for the curses, the odd chanting, the blood. Nothing happened. He winced at the hand held out to him – he did the unforgivable. He took it.
Someone saved the monster, the demon. The child who cannot unsee, unknow. The child that knows it is not like everyone else.
“I am the monster,” he says to them. “I am it. I am the monster. I am the monster. I am themonster. Iamthemonster.” The hand pulled him carefully into armored arms. There’s no pain, no screams ripped from his mouth.
“This is Anders,” the static minion responded to their silent god. “I got the kid.”
And the little monster screamed.
She struggles awake, raspy breaths, wide eyes. He blinks down and looks at her, wondering if he should care. She will not die – she promises him that. He will not let her break that promise, that deal they once made under the shine of stars. She was his wife – is his wife, she has no choice but to do his bidding.
His eyes narrow as she looks back at him confused, waiting, wondering. Then again, she does not know him. He opens his mouth, but closes it. No, he better not show his forked tongue – the nastiness might just spew out. Her fingers feebly wrap around two of his digits, the slight pressure asking. But he cannot guess what. Did she want to be kissed, held? Did she want the skins of those that did this? He would gladly provide the latter if there was any skin to spare. He bites the inside of his cheek, debating if he should actually try to figure it out. It is easier, always easier, for him to be selfish, to give a damn only about himself.
Screw the whole fucking world. What the hell has it ever done for him? He nestles against her, wrapping an arm protectively around her fragile frame. She lets him get away with so much, most of the time, she has no idea. Then again, she is his favorite prey. He watches her trembling fingers trace small designs onto his hand. A habit usually accompanied with a black sharpie. Always a black sharpie. He wonders if she knows the truth about his job. About their life. About him.
He knows he should tell her that they’re gone. They won’t come back. He should tell her that she sleeps with worst of monsters, fucks him, eats dinner with him, had three spawns. No, she’s strong enough to deal with it. She’s married to him, after all. The burning licks at him. Freshly dead, still bleeding in their graves, some scattered, hidden away. No one will miss them – he certainly won’t. The dead bastards.
His only gift to her. As him. The monster. He kisses her lips once more, waiting for her reactions. She had fought them. He saw the marks, the bites, the scratches – the bruises and cuts. And it still shatters hers, all the better. He can teach her to pretend.
A talent he has perfected. A pleasure.
The only thing that is truly him in their relationship. A world of illusion and lies. Like a circus or carnival. Their first meeting – he knew his mask had slipped. Young and still perfecting the illusion, the mask. The moment he had let the monster peek out.
He didn’t bother asking if the seat was taken as he slid into it, a worn copy of “Night Shift” in his hands. She doesn’t look up as he settles in, his leg tucked under his other knee, his coffee nestled beside his thigh.
“That seat was taken,” she invaded his reading.
“I don’t recall asking for you opinion,” he barely held back the snarl. The annoyance. Something about her irked him, made his mask slightly crack.
“I know, but you were going too,” she shrugged, turning the page. “Because you are undeniably attracted to me.”
“Bitch.” And denial only made him pissier.
She finally raised her eyes from her book. Sparkling jade eyes filled with mirth and winked suggestively at him. “Woof, woof!”
Made them go away, her lips move, without the need of sound, her eyes soft and gentle. Thank you.
He freezes, hearing the stillness of his blood. The monitors still beeping, the voices still muffled. His eyes darkens as he looks into the jade, waiting to see the fear, betrayal, the hate. There is nothing. The units were wrong. He doesn’t return the words nor can he return the love. He doesn’t feel. He feeds upon the souls of innocents, he will eventually devour his wife. He cannot stand to be with her now. He cannot stand her. Her willingness, her acceptance. Her love.
No, he realizes. It is not enough. He wants more. He wants to be the cause of the hurt, the pain – he’s jealous how her thoughts still linger to that night. She is cheating on him, but doesn’t know it. He pulls away from her, not sure if he wants to ravage her or just… ravage her.
The iciness makes him want to destroy everything, shatter her already broken body. Disappear into the arms of an old lover, someone he stopped seeing after meeting her. He wants to escape this suffocating cage– he notices the stillness of her body, her eyes closed, the strength gone. For that moment, in which seconds freeze mid time, even the monster fears. He waits and waits, willing that chest to rise. To suck in the air, to expel it, to repeat the process over and over.
Her eyes open once more, her throat swallowing. Once again, she tries to hold his hand, her muscles still stiff. He wraps his fingers around hers, and leans down to press another kiss to her lips. She easily accepts him, sighs contently. The monster, for the moment, is resting peacefully inside him, the burning and ice retreating into the darker parts of his mind. When she returns back to his lair, they’ll talk. They’ll scream, throw things, topple each other.
And he’ll pretend it’s love as she breathes in, the life expands her lungs, her hands tightly clinging onto his hands. Their lungs rise and fall together, their hearts beating, beating together. Once was her breath, once was his, but now together, they share their breaths. All he has to do is to pretend it’s love. Just fucking pretend he doesn’t feel a damn fucking thing as they share the same breath.