“Why’d you do it?”
“Boredom,” he answers, shrugging his shoulders.
I stare at him in shock, expecting some deep-rooted answer for all the devastation he’s caused. For all the pain he’s inflicted.
His unapologetic manner is infuriating and the blood boils in my veins as the rage consumes me. My hands ball into fists but I struggle with everything I have to hold the anger at bay.
I can’t let him get to me.
“That’s your reason?” I ask. “Boredom?”
He looks me straight in the eye. There’s an inhuman indifference in his gaze that sets the hairs on the back of my neck on end.
“I only did what you were too cowardly to do yourself,” he mutters flatly.
“That’s—” But I immediately stop short, my voice abruptly choked into silence.
That’s a lie, I want to say and yet, I can’t find the words—can’t find the strength to challenge what he believes to be true. Does that mean it is? Does that mean everything he’s done…all the horror and tragedy he’s caused…
Does that mean a part of me wanted him to do it? Or even worse: that a part of me wanted to do it myself?
“No,” I breathe. “I never wanted this.” “Didn’t you?” he asks.
“No,” I breathe again, more firmly this time.
My fingernails dig into my skin as my hands clench even tighter. The anger I feel is like a malignant tumor, growing…growing…to the point where I feel crushed by its heavy weight. I want to fight against it but the burden is immense.
My body begs me to submit and allow it to overtake me. On the one hand, I want to but on the other, I’m determined to fight against it. To repress the inner urges that constantly threaten to consume me.
“You took everything from me,” I whisper. “What makes you think I wanted that?” “I gave you what you truly wanted,” he counters.
“And what’s that?” I ask hesitantly.
His eyes narrow as a devious smile pulls at his lips.
This agonizing reality doesn’t feel like freedom. How can it? This newfound state of being is nothing more than a lonely prison, isolating me in a darkness from which there can be no escape.
“Freedom?” I scoff.
His smile quickly fades.
“You were tied down,” he says. “Trapped by superficial desires. I did you a favor,” he adds impassively.
I’m overwhelmed by a crippling hatred for the man before me, the loathing an unquenchable fire in which I’m determined to see him burn. The disbelief I feel in response to his baffling words only further fuels the flames of my rage.
“That’s my family you’re talking about!” I snarl.
I wince as their faces flash like gunshots through my mind. I can see them so clearly— see the agony in their gazes as the life leaves their eyes. See the blood as it drowns them in an ocean of red. I see it all as if it still lay before me: the crimson blanket that was so cruelly sewn by the man staring at me now.
“My home,” I continue weakly. “My job—”
“Obligatory lies that you convinced yourself you wanted. That you convinced yourself it was necessary to have. Nothing more.”
There’s a maddening empathy in his dark stare that seems to suggest that he somehow understands my pain. But he doesn’t. How can he when he’s the one who caused it? “That’s not true,” I spit through clenched teeth. “I wanted them—I loved them—and you took them from me.”
“I saved you,” he snaps. The distance between us closes as he takes a step forward. “And now…you can be free.”
The faces of the ones I’ve lost begin to appear in my mind, a backdrop of red haunting my every thought. It’s a fitting accompaniment to the deranged laughter that suddenly pours from my lungs. I can’t control the fit that takes me nor can I stop the tears that are almost certainly a direct result of it.
“You call this freedom?” I sneer. “I’m even more trapped than I was before.” “So, you admit it,” he whispers.
“Admit what?” I ask.
“That you felt trapped,” he breathes gently. “Unhappy.”
I glance up at him, taken aback by the unexpected kindness in his voice. But I know better than to trust it, certain this air of compassion is simply disguising deceit.
“Everyone feels that way sometimes. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t content with the life I had,” I murmur.
“Then why did you destroy it?” he asks simply.
My eyes widen as his words almost instantly unhinge me. The composure I’ve been striving for—the self-control that I’ve so desperately wanted to maintain—it’s lost to me now, trapped in a dark hole of madness which I now know I can never return from. “Me? I didn’t destroy anything. It was you!” I scream. “It’s always you! You ruined it— you ruined my life!”
Any lingering remnants of my sanity are forgotten the moment I throw myself forward, my right fist aiming for the target I imagine planted on his face. I can hear my haggard breaths ringing thunderously in my ears. My heart pounds violently in the veins passing through my head.
“Why can’t you leave me alone?” I cry.
I release a strained whimper as I withdraw my bloodied knuckles from his untouched face. I glance up at him, glaring at his distorted reflection in the broken mirror.
“When will you understand?” he asks. “I can never leave you. I will never leave you.” He presses his fingers against the fractured glass. Against the tantalizing web where he has been eagerly awaiting his prey. And now the spider has finally trapped me.
Now he has finally won.
“After all…” he whispers softly, speaking to me in a quiet voice I recognize only as my own. “We’re inseparable.”