Give a Warm Welcome to…
Author Suzanne Burke
I welcome the shield provided by darkness. Those sweet moments when I allow myself to sit in the velvet depth of silence and dwell only on what is to come.
For the past only exists to remind me of the challenges I failed to meet. The things I thought myself powerless to change. I know better now.
I have no room for failure here as I sit wrapped in the warm blanket of my darkness-inspired illusion of safety.
The soft glow of the clock now heralds your arrival. I feel my pulse jump in anticipation.
I check the window … again. No vehicle yet slows to a stop on the rain-drenched streets so many floors below.
I feel the twitch of the nerve in my jaw and suck in the air in an effort to still it.
I remind myself once more that external factors are likely responsible for your late arrival. I know you too well to ever believe that you would be late by choice. You are eternally predictable. That comforts me somewhat.
My neck muscles clench and I stand, stretching my arms and softly willing them to relax.
The clock rolls through another hour, and my calmness begins to falter.
I check through everything that I have prepared in anticipation of our meeting.
Grunting with approval at my readiness, I check the window one more time, and I gift myself a smile as your vehicle draws up and parks on the opposite side of the now quiet street.
The excitement begins to make itself felt and I shiver.
You will arrive soon, and all the waiting will end.
I lick my dry lips and take a deeply satisfied breath.
I hear the sound of the ping the lift makes as it stops on this floor. I hear your key turn in the lock.
I wait as you fumble for the light switch and flick it on. You swear in displeasure as the room remains dark. Now you search for your iPhone and seek out the torch app. The room in your immediate vicinity is caught within the boundary of its fractured light.
My surprise still awaits your discovery.
You feel your way slowly along the wall and take a faltering stumbled step into the kitchen. The light switch disappoints you once more.
The language that follows that discovery explodes in the air. I hear you open the refrigerator to confirm to yourself that this lack of light has permeated the entire apartment. You shrug out of your coat and drop it to the floor, uncaring of the dirt and clutter it now lay amongst.
You find the bottle of scotch and slam cupboard doors seeking a glass. There are none. They lay in a disordered mess of unwashed utensils still awaiting attention on the food scrap cluttered kitchen bench.
I hear you curse as you stagger. The booze you’ve been consuming for hours rattles your movements and makes them disjointed.
You sit heavily in the easy chair uncaring of the scattered and dirty clothing that cushions your weight.
You unscrew the lid of the scotch bottle and take several satisfying gulps.
The anticipation makes me quiver now.
I have waited so long for this.
The cigarette lighter grants you a drag of the nicotine that is but one thing on your list of addictions.
The clock ticks over again and moves time relentlessly forward.
The bathroom awaits your imminent arrival and you curse again at your now shaking hands as you seek out your ever-present stash of heroin. You scream in rage and frustration when you finally acknowledge that there is none to be found.
I hear you slamming the walls with your now white-knuckled fists.
I reach across and flick off the power override switch. I illuminate the apartment.
It takes brief seconds for you to lurch back into view.
“Melody? Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were here? What the hell! When did you get back?”
“I discharged myself from the hospital.”
“Oh. Good. This place is a mess. It needs cleaning.”
“Yes, Charles. Yes, it does.”
I watch you nod your head, pleased at my response.
You check your wallet, quickly counting the bills waiting inside. You confirm your decision, “I need to go out. Fix me something to eat. I won’t be long.”
“Why do you need to go out again? It’s raining.”
I watch you glare at me for daring to question you. “I need a fix. I’m heading to see Freddy.”
“There’s no need. I stopped by and saw him on the way home. I wanted to give you a surprise.”
You smile for the first time. “Well, now. That’s fine. That’s good.”
“Do you want me to get it?”
You now wear your frustrated look. “Fuck yes. Of course. Hurry up.”
“Sorry. It’s a little hard to walk with my ribs strapped.”
“You’re always sorry. You’re pathetic!”
I access the bedroom and return with his fix, and watch as he draws it up and applies the tourniquet to his upper left arm.
“You broke my jaw again, and two ribs this time.”
You glare at me as I dare to disturb your concentration, “You shouldn’t aggravate me like you do. You know you asked for it.”
The smack hits you, and I watch as your pupils dilate. The sickly smile that you now wear is most unattractive.
You look suddenly startled. I watch the confusion on your face turn to fear … and then a moment of understanding colors your now bulging eyes. “Fuck! Fuck, Melody! What did you d…………….”
You make a gargled choking noise as you begin to foam at the mouth.
I wait for five minutes and then check for a heartbeat … I smile … there is none.
I need to be certain that reviving you is not possible. Fifteen minutes should do it.
I punch in a number on my iPhone.
“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”
“Oh, God … help me, please! Please! I’ve just found my husband. He’s not breathing. Please … I think he’s overdosed.”
The kind operator took my address, “Okay. Stay calm. I have paramedics on the way.”
“Hurry! Hurry, please, please hurry.”
I turn off the lights and sit within darkness’s velvet cloak. My iPhone torch casts a spotlight on your rapidly cooling body.
The rigid look of fear on your now strictured face brings me comfort. “Did you like my little surprise, Charles?”
I hear the sirens approaching.
I laugh in delight as the heady rush of adrenaline-fuelled relief floods my system.
The dawn light is just filtering through the balcony windows. Soon now I’ll have no need to seek the comfort of darkness.
I wait now. I have finally regained control.
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