This week’s prompt was kinda hard for me. I think it’s because “familiarity” is relatively specific. “Familiar” would have been more versatile. Curse you Random Word Generator!
Hard or not, I managed it and then I did some deep breathing to recover from the adrenaline rush. Funny how something that seems so harmless, a little bit of writing, can really get to you.
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They say that familiarity breeds contempt. And they couldn’t have been more right. I had been living in this little condo with Dave for three years when I came to realize that I hated him with every fiber of my being. I don’t mean that I just was annoyed by him, or anything trite like that. No, no. I was sitting in my room, listening to him clip his toenails and comment on the size of the dirt clog he found in the clipper, when I devised a plan to kill him. A perfect plan. One that would paint me as the victim as well. One that would have the cops on a goose chase for a killer that didn’t exist, while I could finally scour his room down with draino and move someone decent in there. It was beautiful. And subtle. And something I could start the very next day.
Familiarity. It not only bred contempt in this case, but it also aided me in my plans. During these past three years, Dave held to a pretty strict schedule. And I had grown to know every last second of that schedule, right down to the times he brushed his teeth after lunch on the quad. I was going to do it. I was going to kill this little git that had made every last night for the past three years a living nightmare. But I would need some help. My best friend, Larry, had a van that would be perfect for this plan.
I called him up. I told him that it was time. It was time to finally get rid of my asshole roommate once and for all. He told me he was in. So, I laid out the plan, the whole thing, laid it all bare for him to scrutinize and tell me where the holes were. Larry was good at things like that. He always went over my electronics homework for just this very reason. After spelling it all out, I sat back and waited for his reply.
“Dude,” he said. “Seriously? Why not just tell him he has to find a new place to live. You own that condo you live in, after all.”
Kick him out? Clearly Larry didn’t understand the depth of my pain. Clearly, Larry needed to go as well. Time for a new plan.
Peterson, situated high on the rooftop, spied his target through the scope: a hypercephalic Tinnard, ensconced prominently in the middle of a lounge a few blocks away. The Tinnard’s arrogant bombast from its recent entrance was an effuse blanket, spreading onto the faces of the patrons. This would be too easy. Peterson felt a pang a guilt for agreeing to the sizable hit payment.
The Tinnard’s drink was served, and the miniature jointed appendages lining the sides of its grossly oversized head jittered with delight. Peterson saw the telltale condensed frost on the sides of the cup and the bluish glow on the rim, and its familiarity made him turn away from the scope. The last time he saw that drink was when he was with Kathryn, nearly a year ago, when she had found out about his work. In the midst of rage she tossed it right at his face. The scars left by the supercooled liquid hurt when it rained.
Judging by the rapturous attention of his barmates, the Tinnard kept to its species’ idiosyncrasy and launched into a joke. Peterson waited for the exact quarter-second when it would pause its speech and raise the cup to its opened pincers. Peterson shifted away from the meat of the Tinnard’s head, exhaled slowly, and pulled the trigger in between heartbeats — then quickly re-scoped his handiwork. The cup had shattered completely and sprayed the now half-handed Tinnard and the lifeforms close by with the blue liquid. They howled silently and scattered in confusion and pain.
Peterson ducked undercover and managed a smile with his slightly deformed mouth. The pay would have been nice, but the thought of someone else quite literally knowing his pain was much better.
The familiarity of the situation was eary. The scene was different but everything else was the same. A bloodless corpse, no blood any where, a frying pan with a word etched on the bottom, and a knife with a deer antler handle. But instead of being left in a trashy ally, this one was left on the steps of a fancy night club.
After surveying the scene, I shook my head and turned to my partner.
“Do you think it is a copy cat or the same person?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” Nick said, kneeling next to the frying pan. “The word on the pan is the same. And we never released that to the press. So my guess is that it is the same person.” I took a deep breath.
“Just what we need. A serial killer with a vampire MO.”
“Hey, Vicki?” I turned to look at the CSI standing by the corpse. I walked over to him.
“What did you find?” The CSI pointed to the crumpled paper in the corpse’s hand. I bent down and gently removed it from the hand.
“What does it say, Vicki?” Nick asked as he joined me. I opened the paper. In a broad handwriting the note held a warning.
This is not the end.
She was sitting in a chair in front of me as I stood over her. She was wearing the red dress I like, the one with the slit up the side that exposed the tops of her stockings and the soft creamy hint of flesh when she sat. Her head was buried in her hands, long black curls fell over her fingers.
“Please,” she was saying, shaking her head. “Please don’t do this.”
I’d been savage and cutting to her in my remarks. Despite not being able to see her face I knew her eye makeup was smudged where she had rubbed at it. But she hadn’t cried. I wanted her to cry, I needed her to cry. In a perverse way seeing her tears reaffirmed her feelings for me, it showed she cared what I said, that my hurtful barbs were not just water off a ducks back.
The more she held out, the longer she fought back her sobs, the angrier I got, the more vicious I became. Jesus, I couldn’t even remember what we were fighting about, let alone who had started it. It was always like this, what the hell was wrong with me? Why did I need such an outward display of emotion? I knew I loved her, I really did. Even at that moment, when my anger was building inside me like a pressure cooker ready to explode. I was torn between wanting to strike her and to hold her in my arms. The familiarity of this scene played out again and again a hundred times, always with the same conclusion, just made the rage inside me burn.
She looked up, meeting my stare. I drew my arm back, ready to cuff her in the side of the head. She flinched, I could see fear in her eyes, but no tears. I held my hand back. It started to shake, I could feel my whole body start to tremble then. I didn’t want to hit her, I never wanted to hurt her. But why did she have to fight me so, with her stubborn bloody resistance?
I didn’t want to fight, I imagined holding her in my arms, slowly undoing the zip at the back of the red dress, standing back and watching as it slid down her body, over her hips, drinking in the sight of her standing before me in her stockings and underwear, watching her unclip her bra and letting it fall to the floor.
“Let’s not fight,” I said, pulling her to her feet. I pulled her into me, held her head against my chest. I could feel tears in my eyes. I was crying.
What’s wrong with me?
I love my son. He’s the most adorable creature in my world.
And what I love most about him is that, even at the age of nine, he still loves his teddy bear. He takes him everywhere I’ve drawn the line at bath time, but even that was a struggle. Even now, he’s sitting on the couch with a bag packed to visit his dad for the weekend, but teddy is cradled close to him.
I smile, thinking of the familiarity between them. Granted, the bear is inanimate, but even he looks like he’s been designed to snuggle close to my son. When his father, Rick bought the bear for him, Jason couldn’t have been more proud. He looked at his father as the strongest man ever to have won the bear for him at a fair. Rick has always been everything to Jason.
If only Jason knew the real reason why mommy and daddy aren’t together anymore.
“Jason, did you get everything?” I walked into the living room to ask him.
He demands to pack his own bags. Apparently, nine year old men don’t need their moms to pack for them.
I smiled and sighed, sneaking in a hug. “Just looking out for you, baby.”
He smiled and looked out the window.
I turned and went back into my bedroom to grab my glasses, wondering why the world looked a little blurry. Once inside, I heard my cell phone ring. Without looking at the caller I.D, I answered the phone. “Hello.”
“Hey, Jess. It’s Rick.”
“Oh, hey. Jason is waiting for you. He seems excited. He can’t stop talking about the surprise you have planned for him. Are you on your way?”
“Actually, that’s why I’m calling.”
My heart shattered. This is why Rick is calling. This is why he always calls.
“You’re not going to do this to Jason again! Why are you always disappointing him? He’s been looking forward to this all week!”
Rick huffed. “Don’t need this from you, Jess. Really don’t.”
“And he doesn’t need this from you!”
There was no response. When I looked at the phone, it was flashing the length of the call.
Rick hang up on me.
I slumped down to the bed, wondering how I was going to break the news to Jason this time. How was I going to tell him his father let him down…again. Why did I always have to be the bad guy? Why did Rick always abandon his son? Why…
I jumped, hand flying to my chest. “Jason.”
He walked closer. “You’re crying?”
Touching my cheeks, the wetness there…I didn’t even know I was crying.
Stopping a few feet away from me, Jason tilted his head to the side. “He isn’t coming, is he?”
What could I say to this precious boy?
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I sighed. “But, maybe next time-”
“It’s ok, mom. Really. I’m going to my room.”
He left before I could say another word. When I walked to the door to watch him walk slowly to his room, my heart shattered once again.
He dropped teddy. Walked away from him. Teddy’s black beads for eyes staring at me in sorrow. And Jason left him.
For the first time ever, Jason left him.