This is a bit of flash fiction from me. I got the idea from a prompt on a writer’s website that I can’t recall at the moment.
Anyway, let me know what you think.
It’s like a force of nature, grief. It sweeps over you like a storm, freezes you with its chill, buries you in its shifting memories and emotions, and holds you down like gravity. I can say part of me was actually a little surprised by the impact of hearing of Wayne’s death. But another part, deeper, buried beneath layers of scar tissue, wasn’t surprised at all. Not after Kelsey, anyway. Nothing surprised me after her.
The real surprise that night came as a pecking. A tap-tap-tap on my bedroom window. I ignored it at first. It was a branch against the window. The house settling. Hell, my overactive and stressed imagination. I even tried to tell myself it was Igor’s tail slapping against the leg of the bed. But I knew better on some level, especially with Igor. He’d taken up a new sleeping post by Kelsey’s crib these last few weeks.
Did I know what the tapping really was though, deep down, did I know what was already beginning to happen?
After a few minutes and several more taps, I rubbed at tired eyes and sat up. There was a silhouette showing through my bedroom window. A silhouette I knew, or I thought I knew. What I knew to be true and what I was seeing, pressed against each other in my mind.
I slid legs that didn’t want to move from the bed and tried to place my feet on the floor of my bedroom as quietly as possible although I had no idea why. The tapping came again, and a chill ran up my spine at the same time a fire lit inside me. I needed to know, I needed to see. I hurried to the window, but my hand paused on the curtain covering it.
Kelsey. If who I thought was behind this curtain, was behind this curtain, I felt certain I knew what it meant for me. But what of my daughter. I’d told Wayne I’d leave him if he hurt me and I did, but what if he’d hurt my daughter? What if he’d come back for Kelsey like he’d threatened. Last I saw him before he died, he told me if I left him he come back and take her from me.
I pulled back the curtain. His smile was bright and there were tears in his eyes.
I didn’t know how or why, and I didn’t care. Somehow he was alive. He was alive, and he’d come here to kill me and take my baby. I closed the curtain and ran to my bedside table to get the gun. Before I’d gotten to the top of the steps I heard him pounding on the door. I checked the clip and switched off the safety while descending the stairs. I wasn’t taking any chances.
I could see his shadow through the window at the side of the door. I thought of shooting through it, but there was too great a chance I’d only scare him away only to have to face him another day in another way I was less prepared for.
He banged on the door again but said nothing. Aiming the gun at the door I reached forward and pulled back the door chain. He must have heard it because his pounding increased. I flipped the deadbolt unlocked and backed away from the door, both hands now firmly holding the gun.
The pounding stopped. Nothing happened.
I don’t know how long I stood there, but I was holding the gun so tight my forearms ached. I took a step forward, and the doorknob turned. I stopped and waited. I heard the latch slide back scraping lightly against the strike plate. My finger squeezed on the trigger, waiting.
The door creaked, sliding open an inch at a time. Slow, no force behind it. I waited. There was no one behind it. He was playing some kind of game. He was hiding and baiting me out. Sweat beaded my forehead and a line of it ran and tickled at the side of my face. I stepped forward when the door was fully open. I stayed to the far right of it. No one stood outside in that direction. I scanned the other way. Careful to keep the aim up but not so far out from by body it could be grabbed. No one in either direction.
For a moment, one ridiculous moment, I wondered if I’d somehow imagined this whole thing. Then I saw him. He was in the yard hiding behind a tree. He peeked around at me but ducked back behind it.
“Wayne,” I called out, but I had nothing else to say. Could think of no threat and didn’t want to tell him to go. If he went I couldn’t kill him.
I stepped over the threshold he’d once carried me over and aimed the gun where I’d seen his head peek out.
Wayne was always a bully. Even when we’d first began dating but back then I could excuse it. Stupid little pranks like noogies, pinches, and hair pulling. And the one I hated most. Hitting me in the pit of my knee and making me fall.
That’s how I ended up lying on the porch. My body so tense I had no ability to catch myself. But something hit me in the pit of my knee and I went straight down. Lucky the gun didn’t go off.
When I turned to look back Wayne was standing inside the doorway. His silhouette nearly covering the entire doorway. All I could see of him was the white of his smile and a strange unnatural glint in his eye. The door slammed shut without him touching it.
Wayne was dead. He was inside my house. He had my baby.