My name is Terrence Frey. This is how I punish myself.
I quit my job and sold everything we own three months ago, so that I can sit here; day after day, night after night, eating terrible hospital food in this chair with the damaged leg and watch Cherie. I know every contour of her perfect face, every freckle, every scar, each and every micro expression. I observe the flickers of movement from beneath her bruised eyelids and worry about the content of her dreams. I’m almost sure that she’s aware that I am here. My angelface,
Every time her heart rate climbs, every single time the blip of the machine makes that high-pitched sound, my own heart quickens; it happens when I say her name. It wakens a level of fear like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Each little noise or tiny twitch sends a surge of terror and hope that burns through my chest. Somehow they feel like the same thing. I have as much reason to be frightened her awakening as I do to pray for her recovery. Ambivalence is almost as monstrous as the deeds that brought her here.
Her name is Cherie and she is 31 years old. She is tall, slim, and so insecure in her skin that she is a goddess in flesh made – she is my everything. I met her four years ago at a street market, where we touched fingers reaching for the same basket of apples. She smiled at me with her seafoam eyes dancing and I was sure that I had died and gone to – wherever it is that comes after. Once our eyes met, nothing else mattered. We shared the apples and our numbers. I’m not one to kiss and tell, but we were together from then on, and married three months later at the beach. Day in, night out, it was Cherie, my world, she still is. Except for one thing. The one thing that stands between eternal damnation and where I stand right now. And nobody else knows but me and that poor Angel on the bed.
Why do you punish yourself, Terrance?
Many others have asked and I tell them the truth. I can’t bear it. I must be here, and really, what else can I say? What other choice have I but to be at her side? I put her here, in that bed. That sweet, accepting, shy soul who loved me through it all, who begged me not to hurt her. She kept saying please Terry, I love you please stop; my body and my fists, my teeth; they ignored her pleas and awoke a heavier lust that roused the beast in my chest. My body, my fists, my teeth – her face and breasts are covered with purple imprints in bruise – all those things took part when the Thing woke starving, but not my mind. No, I love Cherie too much to kill her. I don’t hate her, not at all; if I had hated her that much I would have left a long time ago and I certainly wouldn’t have married her.
I don’t hate her, but HE does. That sadistic son of a whore who has set up house in my head. He wanted Cherie dead and he used me to do it. Now she’s lying broken in that stupid bed and I’m forcing myself to witness everything, because he is whispering in my head to finish the job and I can’t let that happen.
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