True Love Always Dies
It wasn’t right that she’d left me, not like this. We were supposed to grow old together, our kids and grandkids and greatgrandkids gathered around us, telling stories and playing in front of the fire. Instead, here I was, standing in a freezing drizzle, watching them lower her into a hole in the ground.
People are jerks when someone dies. They don’t mean to be, I know, but they presume so much. They insinuate themselves into your life, trying to help, as if there was anything anyone could do to make it better. They tell you platitudes about the afterlife, like they alone had an inside line on what happens to us after we become worm food. But mostly they presume to know what you’re going through. They act like they knew her, like they knew her inner thoughts, the dreams she told you about in bed at night, the words she told you the last time you saw her before she was dead. And they don’t know. They can’t know.
But they presume.
I stayed around town for a few weeks after the funeral, but what I really wanted to do was get to work. I didn’t need anyone, even someone as well-meaning as my neighbor Phil, who’d walk around my house – our house – like he owned the place, like that badge in his wallet gave him a key to every business in town, getting in my way. So I left.
They’d find me, I knew. People who presume don’t know boundaries. They don’t know how to leave well enough alone. They don’t know.
The village I’d found online was warm, remote, and full of people who wouldn’t bother me. It was taboo here to enter another man’s house without permission, and I sure as heck wouldn’t be granting that. So no one asked “what’s in the box, mister?” No one asked “is that a pentagram on your floor, Tim?” No one asked what that smell was or what those words were I kept chanting or what that glow was coming from the box.
No one presumed to stop by the day my wife came back to me.
I wasn’t sure what the transition from being dead to being alive would be like for her, but I tried to consider all the possible factors. I bound her wounds, especially the ones where the bullets had exited her body – those had bled like crazy. I tied her arms and legs down, in case she thrashed or tried to escape once she came back. The gag in her mouth was as comfortable as I could make it – she hadn’t been much into that kind of thing when alive. And her favorite song was playing on Pandora.
One look into her eyes told me that it had all worked, and that she was back, she was here. And she was furious.
Trusting in the locals not to presume, I loosened the gag.
I won’t reprint what she said here, because it really wasn’t very nice, and it really didn’t matter anyway. The only words that mattered were the ones she’d told me in our house that last day. “I hate you, Tim,” she’d said. “I hate how you try to control me. To hurt me.” When all I’d done was love her? And this is how she felt? “I’m leaving you. I never want to see you again.”
Like that was a possibility. She’d known that as soon as I’d calmly walked to what had been our bedroom and retrieved my gun, but by then it was too late. She might die, but she’d never leave me.
Here in my new house, we talked. Well, she screamed, mostly. And then she cried. And then she didn’t say anything, because I’d cut out her tongue.
And then her heart.
She presumed that someone would come. She presumed that I’d brought her back to me so I wouldn’t have to live without her.
How little she knew me. Now that I knew how to bring her back, I wasn’t limited to enacting my vengeance just the once.
Sewing her heart back into place took some time, but it was worth the effort. When I brought her back from the dead a second time, I think she understood.
Even if she didn’t, I was going to give her plenty of chances to learn.
She presumed to leave me. Like that was possible.