Rhonda watched him for a moment, then shifted the car into drive. Eddie turned to wave; his face neutral. There was no sadness, or happiness either. Just a blank face as if he were an eggshell capped with long curly hair.
Rhonda drove away, not daring to look in the rear-view mirror, not wanting to see him get into the car she had just helped him to load.
Alone, now, truly alone.
The mask of her own blank look crumbled as tears spilled down her cheeks. After stifling her emotions during the long drive, she was now free to feel again.
He was gone.
What a mess, what a mess, she scolded herself. How the hell did you get into this mess?
She sobbed into the steering wheel at the red light, her heart aching as if it really would split in two. She couldn’t decide if she was going to scream or throw up. But in the end, she did neither.
She thought of all that she had heard, all that she knew, yet she had pushed aside all common sense, all reality, to walk this dangerous tight rope, as if she could really make it to the other side.
Who had she been kidding?
It was over and that was that.
She slammed the steering wheel with her hand.
But you can’t make someone love you… can you?
They either do or they don’t.
And after all they had been through, after all she had done for him…
He was going back to his wife.
She didn’t relish the idea of the long drive home. Alone. Her nerves twitched as if they would snap at any moment. Her friends had told her she was nuts to drive him all the way back to her with all his stuff. But she wanted to be nice. Couldn’t bear the thought of him loading all that shit; his computer, his guitar, his clothes onto a bus or train.
Maybe he would remember what she had done and come back to her one day.
She laughed out loud.
Not fucking likely.
She had doormat written all over her. She must have been nuts to let him use her like that. It was more obvious with each passing mile that he had never loved her at all. He had just been using her as a place to crash while he and wifey took a breather. And now that he had his month of free food and sex, he was revitalized and ready to go back to his old life.
Why did she think it would be any different for her?
The story was as old as time.
Yet in her own case, her husband had left her for another woman and stayed gone. Well, for a while. Until his untimely and mysterious demise. So why wouldn’t she think it would be the same for her?
Her lip curled and she growled softly as her thoughts churned.
There was the sign to the highway interchange. She stared at it and then, decided not to turn. Not yet.
She would stay in this little town for a while. There was no rush to hurry back, the kids were at her friend’s house. She might as well try to get a handle on her emotions before tackling the five-hour drive home.
She WAS crazy. Who in their right mind would drive a married man back to his wife after he supposedly came to be with her?
Crazy…yes…she was crazy. That could be the only explanation for it. Not crazy in love or crazy with drugs. Just plain old cuckoo bananas crazy.
The whole deal had been crazy when she stopped to think about it. She pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot and wiped her eyes. Shakily, she pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
Yes, the whole thing had been crazy right from the start.
It was a modern-day romance, that was for sure. One of those Internet connections.
They had met in a chat room. Never meeting in the flesh for months. For some reason, though, they had clicked. Call it fate, call it loneliness, call it simpatico, it didn’t matter. They started off making jokes, and then later on, jokes grew into private deep discussions as they discovered more and more in common. After a few weeks, they exchange pictures, and each liked what the other had to offer. The fact that he was married had put her off. But it appeared even before he stated it, that he couldn’t be that happy or why was he talking to her? Why would he be spending five to six hours a day messaging and emailing her, if he was happy with the woman, Marilyn, in his physical space?
And why would he be sending email after email, each one growing more obsessive, hesitantly planning a far-off distant future together? A time when the kids were grown. A fantasy to look forward to.
Yet, after meeting in person, at a science fiction convention, he with his wife on his arm, they knew the fantasy would be reality much sooner than they had planned.
It was only a few months later when he asked her to come and get him, for his own car was a hunk of junk that couldn’t make the five-hour drive. The marriage was over, he was leaving his wife, he wanted to be with her, Rhonda.
And Rhonda had believed him.
The month he had stayed was like magic. They got along like a house on fire, so it was a shock when he suddenly announced he wanted to go back to the wife.
It was a knife through her heart.
Now here she sat, in a McDonald’s parking lot, alone, drained, sobbing like a baby. She couldn’t figure out where she had gone wrong, what she had done to turn him away.
She had done nothing but open her home and heart to him.
He had taken everything she had to offer then split. Wiped his feet on her heart, like the doormat that she was. ….
The rage that had been burning within her the last couple of days since he had announced his intention bubbled to the surface. Her tears dried; she snuffed out the cigarette.
He would not get off this easy.
Rhonda dug out her map of the small town and tried to pinpoint where he lived. She had never been there. Had picked him up and dropped him off at a corner store not far from where he lived…
God, she was an idiot.
She started the car and headed back towards his part of town.
When would she ever learn?
They were nothing but liars and cheats. Every last one of them. Lying cheating bastards.
She thought about her friends. How many of them were happily married?
Not one. Not really. Despite other hype, it still was a man’s world.
And her divorced friends fared even worse. She could count on nearly two hands, woman involved in some sort of triangle, simply because there was no other way to be.
In most of the cases, the women didn’t even KNOW they were in a triangle or harem, until they were so involved that it would be more stressful to start from scratch all over again that to simply put up and put out.
For that’s what it all boiled down to, wasn’t it?
That moment…the craving for that burning moment of ecstasy, when the world could be forgotten, where there was nothing but sensation and color and heat.
She missed the heat with him already. Could feel the loss of their last time evaporating like water on a hot frying pan. He had been exquisite. It wasn’t technique or size or any of that physical stuff. Getting off was something as natural as walking, at least for her.
No, it had been more. She had really felt he was the end of her search. The end of four years of self-imposed celibacy, of waiting for someone who wouldn’t screw her over or break her heart.
She thought she had been so careful, had it all covered. The months of pre-screening him, deciding their hopes and dreams, how they would live together, who would do what around the house. She thought she had found the mate she had been waiting for her whole life. And the fact that he was ready to leave his marriage, even before he met her, so he had said, had made it a home run in her eyes. A man who wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice, just as she wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. A fresh start. A new life.
The tears welled up again, blinding her.
She had made a horrible mistake.
Years wasted when she could have been with any other man who would have treated her the same. This man was just the same. It was the same old song, right down to the bass rhythm riff.
The sun was starting to set when she found the road where he lived. She wouldn’t drive down it now, he would be sure to recognize her car, provided he wasn’t already in her arms, in their bed, reconciling.
She drove back to the main road and pulled into a mini-mall. There she sat chain-smoking until darkness sprawled across the land.
He would not get away with this. None of them should ever be able to get away with this. Chewing up women and spitting them out, as if they have no feelings, as if they never mattered. Sure, it took two to create such a mess. She was guilty of her part in it. But she would never have gotten involved if she hadn’t believed him. All those words written and then spoken in secret phone calls when he said he was going out for cigarettes. All those secret chats on the messenger under assumed names, stolen moments while the wife slept. And then the stolen kisses at the convention, when the wife was out of the room. Even when he was in her bed this past month, Eddy lamented the day he ever met Marilyn. Accused Marilyn of a multitude of marital sins, yet who is he with now? Not the woman that adored him, did anything for him, risking reputation and going against her own morals of getting involved with a married man.
No, Eddie was not with Rhonda.
She ground out the cigarette and returned to the road. This time she slowly drove along, looking for the little house nestled in behind the trees. At last, she found it.
She drove the car further down the desolate country road and parked it. Her hands trembled as she locked up the car. She quickly made her way through the trees until she was at the house. There was his car, and what she assumed was Marilyn’s car. Wasn’t that cozy? Two cars side-by-side in the long gravel driveway. Her heart pounded.
She snuck around the house and heard music playing. A rock and roll song. One of Eddie’s favorites that he had often played for her. Rhonda narrowed her eyes and tried to peer in a window. It was a child’s room. Two beds, both empty. She wondered if the kids were watching TV in another room or maybe they had been sent off to grandma’s house during this time of reconciliation. Rhonda crept to the next window and saw the living room, TV on, but no one watching it. There was no one in the kitchen either.
The house was so tiny she couldn’t imagine that he left her own lovely large home for this little cabin. The stairs needed work, the house itself was in dire need of a paint job. There was only one window left to see into and she didn’t know if she could bear it.
Rhonda braced herself and carefully peered through the crack in the curtains through the partially opened window. Yes, there they were. Hubby and wife in the throes of reuniting. She felt ill. It was only a few hours since he had last kissed her, only…she counted on her fingers… less than twelve hours since they had made love themselves. And now here he was. Writhing on the bed with Marilyn.
Rhonda sat down heavily on the grass, her head throbbing, gasping for air as she tried not to cry. Crying would serve no purpose. Crying was for the weak. She had to do something, take action.
She stared up at the full round glow of the moon. It was a beautiful September moon, warm and brilliant. She could feel its rays touching her, could feel it washing inside of her and through her. Rage and passion boiled in her blood. Her love, her lover had betrayed her. In the blink of an eye, as easily as changing a TV station, he had calmly announced that he had to go back, to attempt a reconciliation. That they had discussed it all on messenger, no doubt while Rhonda slept. The same old song. She had suspected it at the time but was only fooling herself by ignoring it.
Her temples throbbed; her eyes blurred. Anger and hatred swelled through her. A surge of passion fueled her blood, and she stood up. She paced around and around in a circle, the hair on her arms standing on end, the hair on her head long and tangled from the car ride. Energy flooded through her. All she could taste was heat. Heat in her teeth. Heat in her body. Heat boiling her blood.
She whimpered, and a distant memory taunted her like a fragment of a dream she couldn’t remember. She shook her head and stared up at the moon. Through the window, she could hear the moans of the lovers, and she cried out with anguish.
Her mind filled with rage and hate. Her clothes felt so tight, suffocating her body that was pulsing and throbbing. She tore at them with long sharp nails, newfound strength in her fingers shredding the cloth as easily as tissue paper. Her own flesh ripped as she fumbled and scratched until she was naked and blood streaked.
Crickets chirped loudly. The sound grew until it seemed like they were screaming in her ears. Over that, she could hear the moans and then sighs of them, just beyond that wall, just through that slightly opened window.
With a growl, Rhonda leaped up to the window sill and broke through the glass. She landed on the bed, the window behind her shattering and splintering like an avalanche. The lovers looked up at her, eyes wide with shock. Rhonda stared into the stunned face of Marilyn.
“What the hell…” Edie cried out, shock rendering him motionless for a moment as Rhonda effortlessly reached out with her hands and tore away Marilyn’s throat. Blood gushed instantly and she felt the heat of it, inciting her to stare into the wide green eyes of her lover.
“Rhonda!” he stammered, scrambling to stand, but she was quicker. With a roar, Ronda lunged at him, biting into his throat. She felt her teeth sink into him with such a heat that she cried out from the ecstasy of it all. Eddy tried to push her off as she tore into him again and again, ripping his flesh in a frenzy. Blood bathed her as his cries became low gurgling moans.
She drove, wearing an old sweatshirt and track pants that were left in the trunk from some forgotten outing, the highway line stretching out before her endlessly. It would be another hour or so before she was home and all she could do was stare at that white line. The road to nowhere. The road leading her back to another life, which she would once again live a life of self-imposed isolation until she felt the call of the heat once more.
May be on the way home, she would stop at her ex-husband’s grave and piss on it.
Sèphera Girón is the award-winning author of over twenty published horror novels and dozens of short stories. Her latest book is an anthology created with Andrew Robertson called Dearly Departed. An interactive work-for-hire book on TALES was published recently called Let Us Burn. Her next book for TALES is being created solely by her and the third chapter of Four Witches and a Dude will be posted soon. Sèphera has stories in Dark Rainbow, Group Hex 1, Group Hex 2, Abandon, Amazing Monster Tales No. 1, Creatures in Canada – A Darkling Around the World Anthology, The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias 1 and 2, and more. Sèphera attended a screenwriting lab in Birmingham, Alabama this past summer to work on her horror TV pilot, The Calling. She has written several pilots and screenplays and is shopping them around. Sèphera has roles in the horror movies, Killer Rack and Slime City Massacre and will be in the horror short Pandora coming out later in 2023. Sign up for Sephera’s World Observations on Substack for free to follow her weekly insights on many topics and soon, she’ll be posting some fiction as well. http://sephera.substack.com
Sèphera currently lives in Toronto. http://sepheragiron.ca