The Death Of A Lover

November 24, 2010
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Ray was cold. The air that clung to his front porch was frigid and cruel from the frost that covered the grass like a quilt. He looked at the drops of dew that hung off the blades of green earth and thought of himself. His entire being was made up of clinging with all of his might to the edge. The edge of desire, the edge of hope and happiness. He never wanted to lose sight of these things, but he found himself slipping from time to time. A finger falling a centimeter backward, and when those moments came, he was used to the feeling of his heart skipping a beat in fear of falling completely. Falling into the unknown pit of darkness. The pit of depression and despair.

He would not fall, would not slip. He refused to be so weak. But the pain was almost unbearable. Ever since Lena died he had a hole in his chest where his heart should be. Where love should be.

Lena had been his world, his life. Apparently she had not felt the same way. He thought again of the unspeakable day when he had found out she had hung herself. She had been upset, and too depressed to walk among the living. Lena had fallen. He guessed that she had been hanging on for a long time, and her arms just got too tired to cling anymore.

He wouldn’t plummet into the same, bottomless hole his wife had.

He would hold on for her.

He took a long drag from his cigarette, which immediately warmed his entire body. He felt the harsh but satisfying wisps of smoke dance down his throat. It no longer burned him. He had been a smoker since he was 17. Now, at 37, he was aware of his blackened, charcoal lungs, but didn’t think much of it.

He had nothing to live for anyway.

He gazed out at the other identical houses across the street from him. It was early in the morning, the sun was just beginning to peak over the treetops, but already the quiet stirrings of waking people were visible through the parted curtains.

He noticed a woman making coffee in her kitchen, stirring it with cream, taking a silent sip. A wave of jealousy flitted through his stomach. He was envious of the way people could go through their lives unscathed by the pain of death.

Sure, people had lost their dogs and their mothers and their fathers.

But nobody loved as deeply as Ray had.

Throughout the weeks of Lena’s wake and funeral, Ray felt obnoxiously numb. It felt as if he was on auto pilot, just getting through the day on instinct alone.

Death was forever. Forever without Lena. Forever waking up alone, the space beside him cold and untouched in his bed.

All he found himself longing for were cigarettes. He would stay outside all night on the porch, so he wouldn’t have to face the empty bed, chain smoking his lungs away.

The day that Ray sat out there watching the dew evaporate in the heat of the coming sun, was the day Ray’s life changed drastically for the second time.

He heard the sirens from a distance and thought nothing of it. It was not until they parked in front of his house that the familiar sensation of panic crept up him like mist. The officers got out and the sirens turned to silence. The air was suddenly too still, too quiet, and the leaves fluttering across the ground sounded like whispers. Secrets he was yet to know.

The officers walked up to him with heavy footsteps. Each step they took made his heart sink more and more into his stomach.

The bigger officer climbed on the porch and grabbed Ray by the arm.

“Ray Newman, you need to come with us.”

“Why?” he asked, standing up.

“We were told to bring you in for questioning on the murder of Lena Newman.” Ray froze. He had hardly been able to accept the fact that his wife had killed herself, and now some officer was telling him his Lena was murdered. He had no response for the officer. He had not killed his wife. But then again…he couldn’t be sure of anything anymore.

Lena watched him get taken away from behind the kitchen window. With a shaking hand she touched the glass. She frowned at the fact that she couldn’t feel the bitter frostiness of the foggy window. She was fog herself. Not actually living, but not yet in the place most people called heaven. She was at the in between stage, the place between earth and sky, the place where the confused go. You can only go to the place beyond when you know why you died.

Some people go immediately; those who die of sickness or accident. But the people who were murdered…they were a long way away.

A tear streamed down her face, leaving a dark streak of damp skin in its wake. She wiped it away with her hand, and couldn’t feel the water in between her fingers.

She absolutely hated this place.

She absolutely hated her husband.

She hated that he had put her here.

Ray looked at the officer from across the interrogation table.

“Officer, for the third time, I did NOT kill my wife!” he screamed at the large, beady faced man across from him. “Why would I kill my wife?”

“She had a very large life insurance account, Mr. Newman. And we have proof to show that your wife was seeing another man behind your back.”

Ray’s jaw dropped. He had had no idea that his wife had been cheating on him. Rage and jealousy waved through him, and he could feel his face becoming hot with anger.

“Lena was cheating on me…” he whispered. “Lena was cheating on me!?” He could feel his blood pulsing in his temple, and the start of a massive migraine was coming on. Ray smashed his fist into the table and screamed. He had given her everything. He had never hit her, had never made her do anything she didn’t want to do. Tears started pouring down his face, ruthless and menacing. His sobs threatened to make his throat bleed.

“Mr. Newman, get a hold of yourself, please,” the officer said, standing up and walking around the table. He leaned down next to him and leaned in toward his face. He smelled of coffee and cigarettes, and the smell made his throat burn with the need to smoke.

“Mr. Newman,” the officer started. “Did you kill your wife?”

The rage burst through him again, and he elbowed the officer in the nose. He flew backwards onto his back, blood pouring from his face. Three new officers bust through the door and grabbed Ray by the arms. They pulled him up, and forced him out of the room. The holding cell was down the hall, and all Ray could think about on the shameful, treacherous walk down the police station hallway was how he could let his life get so bad.

Lena had been with Charlie the day before she died. She had not planned it, she had not meant for it to happen. She had fed off of the adrenaline that had coursed through her body, and she had let instinct, and instinct alone, get the best of her.

She remembered the crazed look in her husbands eye when she had told him of Charlie. He had come at her with his strong hands out in front of him. Threatening and frightening. They had clasped around her throat, causing her breath to be cut short. She had struggled, had tried to pry his hands away from her only way of breathing. But he had only grasped tighter. She began seeing specks of light in her vision. Blobs of piercing white. She was looking right into his eyes as he was killing her. His eyes were fierce and angry, and then they were gone. Everything was.

Fluorescents hurt his eyes. They watered and brimmed with tears as he sat alone in a room filled with utter, painful, confusion.

He honestly didn’t know whether or not he killed his wife. He shuddered at the thought.

He didn’t know what was happening to him. He didn’t know why gruesome pictures of his wife’s lifeless body filled his head, and filled his nose with the smell of death. He also didn’t know why a memory prodded his brain like a sharp stick. A memory so vivid it gave him chills up and down his arms.

He didn’t know why he could remember his hands around her neck.

Lena watched him pitilessly through the bars of his holding cell. He looked shaken and weak. Lena smiled at the sight.

She once again thought back to the day she died. But this time her memories of what happened were foggy. In their place was the image of her tying a noose. She silently watched herself climb up onto a chair. She put the rope around her neck, and jumped.

Lena gasped. She could almost feel the pressure of the rope around her neck, strangling her.

She didn’t know why she could see these things. She was absolutely positive she had been murdered by her husband…or was she?

Ray had killed his wife. He could now distinctly remember the rush of panic that pulsed through of him as he watched his wife dead on the floor.

He had gotten a rope out of the shed and tied it to the banister. Then he tied the end of it into a noose around her neck. He laid a chair on its side next to her hanging body, and told himself it looked exactly as though she had killed herself.

Ray hated himself. He hated his wife for making him kill her. She had cheated.

“It just happened…” she had said to him, and he had killed her.

Lena had killed herself. At least she thought she did. She was pretty positive about what she saw. She still didn’t understand though, why she could still see Ray killing her.

She had a valid reason of killing herself. She hadn’t been happy in her marriage for a long time, and the guilt that ate away her insides made her physically hurt.

She could remember killing herself. She could understand why she killed herself. She was completely and unreservedly confused. At first she thought that her husband had killed her, and now it was just the opposite.

Ray figured he had convinced himself he hadn’t killed his wife. Only a sick minded person could do so, and he now thought of himself as the grossest possible slime on the planet. He had killed his soul mate. He didn’t think he deserved to live.

I deeply regret having to tell this story. The reason being, that it doesn’t have an end.

There are two, very plausible circumstances. Did Ray Newman kill his wife out of untamable jealousy? Or was he in fact the victim, a loving husband who became a widower after his wife’s painful, and untimely, suicide.

I will tell you now that I, in fact, have no idea. It’s up to you. Do you believe that someone can be so mad, that they would kill the one they cared about the most? Or do you believe that someone so guilty of unfaithfulness, could kill herself, and then be so ashamed that she blame her totally innocent husband?

If you haven’t noticed, two people are being accused of the death of one person. One of them being the one who is dead.

I know you will bring justice to the right person, but tell me one thing.

Which person is it?

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