Copyright @ Shannon Lawrence. “Dearest” was originally published in Tales From the Moonlit Path (August 2019). This story may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.
by Shannon Lawrence
The need for your touch is a craving I cannot withstand. I hunger for you each moment we’re apart, imagining your tender hand upon my cheek, your soft, hungry lips upon mine. I want nothing more than to feel the hard lines of your body pressed against me. It won’t be long now until we’re together forever.
I remember the first time I saw you, sitting at that bistro on the corner of Baptist and Red Oak, your chestnut hair haloed red and golden by the sunlight. You sat deep in conversation, eyes intent, leaning forward. No one could ever say you’re not a good listener.
Then you smiled.
The first time that smile graced your lips it caressed my insides, stroked every single inch of me. I froze where I stood, letting the heat of you fill me, build to an eruption. You stole my heart in that moment, imprisoned it. We’re soulmates, the passage of time having only made this all the clearer to me.
Nobody can ever keep us apart. We are one.
My memories have all been tied to you. There is no moment I remember without you in it somehow. You are the sun of my emotional solar system, the bright shining beacon that gets me through each day. My every need is fulfilled by you. I can’t imagine life being just me ever again.
It is you and me forever.
There have been dark times through these many months. I’m the first to admit that things have not been perfect. Hard times have come and gone. Times I thought we’d be kept apart, that our bodies and minds would be forever estranged. We’ve made it through the bad, survived it and come out the other side. True love brought us through.
You are my destiny. And I yours.
Flowery words don’t forge relationships. You already know we’re meant to be together, though sometimes your behavior makes me wonder. At times you can be so aloof, so self-involved. I don’t understand why you do this to me, why this selfish beast tears forward from inside you. What have I done other than adore you?
When you ignore me, fail to acknowledge my feelings for you, fail even to acknowledge me, my presence, it hurts more deeply than you could ever imagine. It shreds my soul, rips my heart out. I have ruined more pillows with the stains of my grief than you could possibly grasp. Love should not be buoyed by a sea of tears. It should be made of laughter, smiles, and kisses. I should be able to come to you when I hurt, not flee, hide, because it is you who hurts me.
Through much soul searching, I know there’s only one way to fix this, to strip away the distractions and make us one soul as we should be.
I need to take care of Her.
I know all about you two. She may temporarily possess your heart, but it’s on loan from me. Always from me. You have allowed her to steal from me for the last time. I have given you time to work through this on your own, but it seems I allowed you too much rope. It has reached the point that I either let you hang yourself with it or save you from yourself.
And, my love, I cannot let you destroy yourself or us. I must do whatever it takes.
I look at Her and see what it was that attracted you. Believe me, I do. She’s the type of woman they cast in movies, with a face meant to be on screens and billboards, and curves that would stop traffic. It’s true She bears more physical beauty than I do, but I can give you so much more than She can in the way of love, of consistency, of dedication. I am smarter than She will ever be, and you and I have more in common.
From that moment on the street corner you were mine.
Even as you sat across from Her, we became one.
When you married Her, I thought I’d never breathe again. I watched, you know. The audience at these weddings is so big that anyone can lose themselves in the crowd. I sat in the back next to your great-aunt Sandy and her breathing apparatus, her wheezing a steady background to despicable vows being exchanged at the front of the church. It took everything within me not to kink that tube as I rolled it between my fingers, to let her suffocate, much as my heart was doing right then. But sense prevailed, and I held myself back. You should be thanking me. That old wretch begged for it, sobbing away, the scent of mothballs a suffocating cloud of putrescence around us.
You put on a good show with those empty vows you spoke at the altar. That woman you call your wife ate it up, lapping at your voice like a dog at the water bowl. The dress was perfect, and She was flawless in it. I bet Her brain weighs half what a normal person’s does, and it showed in the vapid expression She fixed on you as you spoke those falsities, poisonous vows pouring from your tongue. I nearly threw up on your Uncle Gene, there in the pew ahead of me, his bald dome reflecting the church lighting like a beacon. How I wanted to eradicate that light, to crack his skull, to flail at anyone near me and kill the smiles they wore in their ignorance.
You looked so handsome in your tuxedo. I want you to wear it when our time comes to wed. We’ll need to exorcise Her stink from it first. Then again, there’s probably no way to clean that off. We’ll find you an identical tuxedo instead. I don’t want a church wedding. Rather, a small wedding on a vineyard is my preference. Rolling hills of green, luscious grapes, the blue sky above us.
Yes, we’ll make this right. She can take the baby with Her when She leaves, that devilish spawn. No child should be born of false love, but that will be Her problem, not ours. You and I will have our own children, products of real love. Forget that ugly, squalling little wretch. Who knew babies could be so hideous? Ours won’t be. They’ll have your hair and lips, and my nose and eyes. They’ll be healthy and quiet, not like that thing currently sleeping in its crib, snot-stained and foul. I hear it breathing, smell the spoiled milk odor it constantly exudes.
It’s time for me to clean up this final mess, as I am always forced to do when it comes to you. I’m not sure you understand how much I do for you. How much time I’ve put into this relationship, what an investment I’ve made. It all seems so one sided when I think of everything I’ve done and how little you’ve given. A true relationship takes two, not one slaving away and the other taking advantage.
That all changes soon.
Tomorrow, we meet in person. I will finally get to touch your skin, feel that smile directed at me. It will be me you embrace, me you caress, me your voice strokes. I’ve waited all this time for you to look at me the way you look at Her, but without the deception. All this time I have been right here, sometimes inches from you, and you have looked right past me, ignored my presence. Surely you’ve seen me in all those public spaces. I can’t have been invisible to you, not really. You just had to act like I was so She wouldn’t know what existed between us.
I’m sure it will be a relief for you to be able to stop play acting this way. You want me as much as I want you. I know this. Every touch from Her must feel like sandpaper across your skin. Every laugh must grate on your nerves the way it does on mine. The time for pretending is done. Your freedom awaits, along with our future together. The gods smile down upon us, urging us toward our destiny.
You’ll know when the time is right, when the clock chimes the time of our first meeting on our anniversary tomorrow. I’m ready for you, for us. As I lie here in the spawn’s closet, listening to the sound of your voices downstairs, I steel myself against the false sounds of happiness, knowing that at every moment you await our meeting, that every touch and laugh is one you intend to share with me.
While neither of us wants it to come to this, I am prepared in case She fights to stay. How deliciously ironic that it may be Her own gardening tools that end Her life. And the baby, if it comes to that. If She dies, so must the baby. After all, we can’t move forward saddled with baggage from the heresy of your flawed relationship. It would be a curse upon us.
Wait for me tomorrow, dearest. For I will come for you once I have finished here, so that we may forge ahead with this love that was meant to be, released from the shackles that have held us for the past two years. Our destiny will be realized.
All my love,
The Woman of your Dreams.
A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her two solo horror short story collections, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations and Bruised Souls & Other Torments are available from online retailers. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find more at thewarriormuse.com.
Family time can lead to murder and mayhem, especially during the holidays. A turkey with a tale to tell, elves under attack, sorority sisters putting on a killer party, a woman’s desperation to save her family, and a stranger ringing in the New Year. These and other tales of woe await you beneath the mistletoe.
Be careful who you offer a kiss. It may be your last.
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