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Fire and Ice
I made my way down the twisting path I knew so well. I’d traveled this way a lot as a child, just to be alone. I didn’t exactly want to be alone now, but there was only one person I wanted to be with, and I knew I couldn’t get any closer to him. Not now, not before he left. Not when I knew there was no guarantee that he would return. I swallowed hard, but no tears came. I would not cry, not yet. It was not over, there was still that little shred of hope, that small light at the end of this long, dark, tunnel. And I would sprint that length, because he was the light at the end of my tunnel. I wouldn’t care how long it would take, as long as I could see him again. The path weaved through a few more large, old, oak trees, through which I could see the small orchard where we would always lay, on the crisp green grass. I sighed sadly. My priorities had been shoved roughly into order within the last few months. Keeping my family and friends alive were at the top of that list now. I looked away and jogged to my safe place, the one place even he didn’t know about. The place far from our small cottage in the country.
I walked close to the old river that ran the line of the property and sat down on an old, fallen, tree. My hands caressed the smooth bark slowly, time had worn away it’s roughness, but there were a few deep indentions. Time could not completely heal everything. Like major wounds, too deep to fix, or a big loss, which digs a hole too deep to fill.
I stopped my hands, my throat tightening up. I could not think of this now, not today. Today was the day I was told I would hear from him, if he was alive. We had arranged a date via webcam later tonight. If he was alive, that is, and then he would be coming home, finally. I could lay in James’s arms once more. A few water droplets escaped the pool that was hidden behind my eyes and slid down my cheek as tears. I lowered my hand to my stomach. I would stay strong, through whatever, through everything, just for the small child that was now forming in my abdomen. I would have to be. I wanted to scream at my husband, to punch him, to beat him. All for giving me this child when he knew he may never return. I began to sob. I knew it was not his fault, but I would not let our little boy grow up without a father. The baby kicked inside of my stomach as though responding to my pain. I tried to control my sobbing and pushed my dark red hair out of my eyes. Then I froze.
I felt a shiver run down my spine, though the autumn breeze was warm. I wrapped my jacket tighter around me. I looked cautiously around, because I had that feeling, for just an instant, that somebody was watching me. I caressed my stomach for a few moments to relax my pounding heart.
“Rose” a voice whispered into my ear and I gasped as thick, muscled arms found their way around my waist.
“James! I thought you weren‘t coming back” I screeched and when he only shrugged, I twisted around until my lips met his. He froze in surprise for a moment and then deepened the kiss. It was everlasting, the effect he had on me. He made me believe in love, in happiness, in bliss, and in fairy tales. Then he moved his hands to grip the sides of my arms, just a little too tight.
“James, stop it.” I complained, though it came out as a low mumble because his lips were still connected to mine. I giggled, thinking he was just playing around.
Then he gripped harder. I tried to push myself away, no longer laughing. He pulled away slowly.
“Don’t you love me, Rose?” He smirked, his blazing blue eyes were as cold as ice, and I thought I seen, for just an instant, a flash of fire that did not belong there. I became horrified. What kind of monster had they turned him into? What happened? Hidden in those eyes were hurt and pain, and anger. Pure, hateful anger.
“Yes, I-I do!” I gasped.
“That’s too bad.” he whispered and he put his mouth up to my ear.
“W-why?” I stuttered, my heart beating frantically.
“I know your secret, and I should have never left you alone.” He growled angrily and his hands knotted in my hair painfully, but once again I sensed that something was not right, as though he was just as angry at himself as he was at me.
“James, your insane. What are you talking about?” I demanded.
“Oh, Rose.” he sighed sarcastically and laughed bitterly. He was truly scaring me.
“What!?” I yelled, mostly angry now, but still scared.
“The little secret that involves you and him. You know, the story where you become pregnant?!”
“James..” I started into my confession that we did indeed have a child on the way. Why was he so angry?
“Quiet. I know the story, Rose. Did you think I wouldn’t hear of it? Did you think I’m just so stupid that I wouldn’t care?” He pulled the ring that he had given me on our wedding day off of my finger, and launched it into the river. Then he replaced that hand onto my arm.
I whimpered in pain as his hand grasped my arm even tighter, and his other pulled my hair. But the pain of rejection was worse. He just laughed a laugh that was most unlike his own. I felt more tears on the way. What had happened between us? Why was he like this? Wasn’t it just months ago that we were madly in love with each other?
“So who was it? Whose the happy father?” He screamed at me, his voice shaking in rage. I realized it then, he already knew I was pregnant, of course. He just didn’t know that he was the father.
“SHUT UP!” He picked me up and threw me to the ground. I stared up at him in horror. He brought his foot down hard on my hand. I heard it crack. He looked down at me, equally horrified.
“Stop it, please, James, stop!” I sobbed and cradled my hand, which was throbbing with pain.
“I-I c-can’t!” he cried out and he put his face into his hands, “You didn’t see what he did to them. You don’t know!” and then he looked up again, the fire had been put back into his eyes. It made him look as though he were someone else, as though he were possessed.
“W-who James? Who is doing this?” my voice shook uncontrollably
“You’re nothing. Just a worthless little woman, and there‘s no use for you in this world!” He bellowed as the fire took control once more and picked me up again. I braced myself for the blow before he threw me against the trunk of an old oak tree. I slid down the bark and onto the hard ground and brought my hand up to my forehead, to stop the intense bleeding from the deep gash. I began to cry even harder. Nothing could compare to this, no other pain. I would rather die painfully than have him hurt me this way. But it was as though he could not help but do what he was doing, as though he was not controlling himself, as though somebody else was.
He shook as he brought out a shining, silver knife. James walked over to stand above me. His eyes glared at me, his short black hair shone in the sun. He was beautiful and he was demented, and yet I still loved him.
“You really should learn how to keep a secret.” Tears rolled down his cheeks as he brought the knife down into my chest. I tried to scream, but it hurt, terribly. The poor child in me, would have no chance to live, and no chance to see his father. To see how James really was, not how he is now. To see James, his father, and be proud of him. That was impossible now. I opened my eyes slowly as I felt my heartbeat fade. James was holding the knife covered in my blood to his neck, staring down at me in agony, the fire gone.
“I’m sorry. I will always love you, Rose.” he whispered, and he slit his own throat. No, no, James! My mind was racing wildly, though it was not working properly. I couldn’t hold onto more than one thought. My time was up, and this game was over. He reached his hand towards mine as he collapsed onto the ground, and everything faded to black, and I fell slowly into the nothingness.