Fiction

Where It Ends

wife

I loved him fiercely and with total abandon.

This isn’t a story where it starts with love at first sight, or stupid clichéd kisses in the rain, or even a meet-cute like in a Hollywood movie. Most movies get it wrong anyway. In fact, where it starts isn’t even important. It’s the end that really matters.

You know, the end. Where he’s sitting at the table, staring at me blankly. Warriors in combat. A dinner separating us that may as well have been a mile full of landmines.

But I suppose we have to at least touch on it. Where it starts. Where we started.

We were in a play. That sounds romantic in and of itself but I had actually already known him for years and never noticed him, not once. In fact, we were even acting together for a few months before I ever really looked at him and decided I could maybe give him a try. I tried moaning his name when I laid alone in bed at night and it sounded weird in my mouth. Have you ever tried moaning the name “Kenny?” It’s strange. It’s not a very moan-able name.

So I was surprised when I did it a few more times and thought yeah, I could see that. I could see him on top of me, kissing my lips, me moaning “Kenny” into the seashell curve of his ear.

The middle part is unimportant. I guess I could tell you how I knew I loved him, though. We went to Wendy’s together for a sort-of-date and I got cheese fries. He asked why I was throwing the fries into my mouth and I said ‘I don’t throw fries into my mouth’ and then hit myself in the face with one, leaving cheese sauce in its wake, and then he was laughing, and oh god, that laugh. That laugh is what got me. That laugh is when I knew I was in love. The rest leading up to this, as I said, is unimportant.

We had a life. A real, true life together. One where we made fun of how the other person talked, knew exactly what snack the other would want, had inside jokes that made us sound ridiculous to outsiders. We had a bed we shared, a home, a cat. We had everything we wanted. Everything we needed.

That’s not quite right, I guess. You’re supposed to “need” a lot of things in life but I truly think he was the one thing I really needed.

And after all of it, the whole wonderful complicated thing, there we sat at the table. Not speaking.

He’d told me, recently, that I had changed. That I’d started acting weird. I took that about as badly as you could take something like that coming from your own husband. Proving him right, I screamed and broke things and told him if I was so “weird” he could just leave.

That was the escalation. That was when he stopped talking to me, slowly at first, then altogether.

Before that it had been little bursts here and there. Snapping at him about something mundane (not replacing the toilet paper roll) or something unreasonable (disagreeing with my opinion on a television show.) But that explosion when he voiced his concern… I’m pretty sure that’s what did it.

Because the old me, I’d have never done that. I’d have cocked my head, listening to Kenny attentively, and inquired more. Asked if he wanted to talk about it. But the old me was already something distant in the rearview mirror of my mind.

We began passing each other in the house, silent ghosts of what we’d once been. Husband and wife, living like the dead.

I had to do it. I had to push him away. I couldn’t go through with what was next if he still loved me the way he did.

You’re not going to understand — no one is ever going to understand.

I loved him so fiercely.

Something else the movies get wrong is how it happens. What the reality of having someone climb inside you and make a happy home of your entrails is. How they set up shop and don’t intend to leave until they’ve done their damage properly.

It’s not easy. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s pain — pure and simple.

I’m not talking about love. Not anymore.

The movies want you to think that when a person is taken over by someone like me that it’s almost effortless but it’s not. I feel every goddamn thing my host does. I feel everything they’ve ever felt, I know how they’re going to feel before they feel it. It’s agony.

That’s why when I crawl inside I have to have a strategy. And for this one, well, I knew I had to push Kenny away. First.

I’m good at what I do. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, to see him sitting there at the opposite end of the table, throat still weakly weeping blood from the deep gash I made when I slit his neck from behind.

Theirs was a love too pure, too good, and I couldn’t let it go on. That’s what my kind does: we crawl inside and we ruin everything good. It’s what we live for. But it comes at a cost.

That’s why I’m sitting here, crying my own tears out of her eyes, looking at his rapidly cooling body. Trying to take it in before I go.

I felt everything she felt, and I loved him fiercely, with total abandon.

It will all be worth it when I go and I see the look on her face and her pain is no longer mine but hers, fully. Completely.

I feel their pain and I eat it afterwards and it’s better than anything you can imagine.

Do you have something good in your life? Something as good as what they had? Something I can take away from you?

Cherish it while you can. One thing the movies do get right: I can crawl inside whenever I want to. And now you’re probably asking yourself:

Where will your story end?

M.J. Pack
written by: M.J. Pack

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