Maybe Tomorrow | Short Story Written by Lauren Roach
This was the fourth time in a week that I had seen her on the bus. Her beauty was just as breath taking as the first day I saw her. Black curly hair that reached past her shoulders, warm brown skin that reflected the sunlight as she sat and looked out the window from her seat. I desperately wanted to be near her, to smell her perfume. I could almost guarantee she smelled amazing. Women that beautiful always smelled good. I smoothed my sweaty hands on my shirt. Today would be the day I would speak to her. Finally. I took a few deep breaths, trying desperately to calm my thudding heart. Most days I just watched her as she got off the bus at her stop, too scared to say anything to her. Not today. Today would be different.
A quick buzzing in my pocket distracted me. I grabbed my phone and looked at the text message that blinked across the screen. "Tonight. 7pm. Do not disappoint me." I slide the phone back in my pocket with a grimace. I didn't need the reminder. It was impossible to forget this night. It rolled around once a month no matter how many times I had hoped and prayed that it wouldn't. I was stuck in this endless loop with no end in sight. I took a deep breath and looked back over at my soon to be queen.
Where was she? In that split second it took me to look down at my phone, I was unaware that the bus had stopped and she had gotten off. I searched frantically, hoping to catch a glimpse of her somewhere. I had to speak to her. I couldn't fail again. I caught sight of her curly hair walking not too far down the road, near the subdivision closest to the bus stop. I still had time. "WAIT!" I bellowed at the bus driver, even though the bus had not yet begun to move. Everyone turned to look at me in confusion. The lady next to me snickered at my outburst. I pushed through the small crowd of still seated passengers and rushed towards the exit.
As I exited the bus, I turned to wave at the driver but the doors pulled closed with a squeal and a grunt before I could say anything. I could see the bus driver's pained expression through the window. She glanced up at the woman as she walked down the street and shook her head slightly. She knew what I was doing. She had seen me struggling to find the courage to speak to this woman. I am certain she finds me pathetic. No matter. I turn my attention back to the curly haired beauty that was a little further away now. If I run, I can catch up to her quickly, but I don't want to alarm her. After all, I am a man and she is a woman and you never know what kind of creepy individuals try to win her affection on a daily basis. I didn't want her to add me in that group of creeps. I am different. No, I must approach her calmly. Give her a chance to see that I am no danger.
"Excuse me ma'am!" I called out. To my surprise, her footsteps hesitated only slightly but she didn't turn around. I picked up my pace in order to get closer. Maybe she didn't hear me. "Excuse me! I just wanted to talk to you for a minute!" I tried again. This time she turned around, but kept a safe distance between us.
"Can I help you?" Her voice was even more beautiful than I imagined. Strong and feminine with a hint of an accent. I smiled as warmly as I could muster with my stomach curling into a ball of nervous energy. I could never speak to women I found attractive. It was almost as if my voice completely stopped working in their presence. Every single time. She stared at me with one eyebrow raised expectantly. I swallowed the lump in my throat and tried again.
"Yes. I. Um. You are really pretty, and I was admiring you from where you sat on the bus. I was wondering if you'd like to getdinnerwithmesometime." The last part of my sentence jumbled up and came tumbling out of my mouth as one word. Her expression softened. "I appreciate you coming up to me. I know it took a lot of courage, but, I am married. Happily." My stomach dropped to my knees. No. There was no way. She couldn't have been married.
"Oh. I'm sorry. You have a good day then." She smiled politely and turned away. I stood planted where I was, processing the conversation. I didn't expect her to be married. I was almost certain she wasn't. Oh well though. Maybe I was wrong. I watched as she walked down the street, taking a quick mental note of which house she entered. There were 2 cars in the driveway with a basketball goal in the front. That must mean she had kids. Or maybe her husband liked to play basketball. I scoffed and turned around. I did what I could. Didn't work out. Not much else can be done, right?
It was dark by the time I arrived home. I took the long way, trying to come up with the best thing to say. I had resolved within myself that things would be different now. I would explain that I was tired of playing this game and I wanted out. It had been 3 years. I was tired. I was exhausted. I deserved more than this. I wanted more out of life. There had to be something better than this. I glanced at my watch. 6:30. I still had time.
My resolve completely melted as I opened the front door and stepped inside. The room was dimly lit, the only light coming from the small candle on the coffee table. Plastic was draped over the blue couch and on the floor around it. The TV was off, but music played quietly in the background. Our special toys lined one by one in a row on the floor in front of the couch. My stomach jumped in my throat, all of this effort after what I had just done. I looked up, just as my wife entered the room.
"Hi honey. You're here." She smiled at me. I smiled back, as best as I could and gave her a quick hug. The guilt making it hard for me to speak. I breathed in her perfume. It was my favorite scent, even though I could never remember the name of it. She wore it on our wedding day. Each time I breathed it in transported me back to that day. Before things had turned into what they are now. I longed for those days more than I cared to admit.
"Are you ready?" I asked. If she could sense my exhaustion, she gave no signs. Her excitement outweighing any concern for my feelings in this moment. She grabbed my hand and led me to the dining room table where a beautiful dinner waited for us. "Let's eat first. I figured you would be hungry. After such a long day." I shrugged, and sat down at the table. Our conversation could wait for a few more minutes. If she was in no hurry, neither was I.
It took us about 20 minutes to eat. By the time we were finished, you could almost smell the excitement coming off of us both. Her excitement had rubbed off on me, my earlier feelings of exhaustion and trepidation completely gone. Maybe I was just hungry all along. After cleaning up the dishes and wiping off the table, she walked over to our toys and grabbed a scalpel. It glinted in the dim light of the living room. "Are you ready?" she asked, her voice thick with desire and anticipation. I nodded quietly.
We both walked out to my car, and she waited as I swung open the trunk. Inside, the girl from earlier lay bound and gagged. She looked up at me, her eyes filled with terrified tears. I shook my head slightly, replaying our conversation earlier in my head. I knew she wasn't married. I had been following her for months. Following her every move in preparation for today. The house she went into after our conversation was her neighbors. I knew she was lying, but she didn't know that. I knew her every move. Almost as if I knew her. I felt like I knew her. She had been the object of my obsession for so long. She had waited at her neighbors until she thought I was gone, but that didn't matter. I was already in her house waiting when she finally decided she had been gone long enough. I had circled back in my car, after seeing her on the bus.
I was so tired of killing, but I wasn't sure had the strength to stop. Not when my wife was pushing us to keep going. I had started to no longer enjoy it. So many victims. So many families destroyed by our sick little hobby. Was I growing a conscience? Was that even possible after so long? It was like my addiction. Even what I didn't want to do it, I felt I had to or I would go crazy. As I looked down at the newest prize here in my trunk, taking in the sight of those beautiful curls soaked in blood and that gorgeous skin sweaty and full of scratches, I knew the day would come where I would finally stop. That day was coming, but...it wasn't today.