Mark stood there, face drawn in shock, his large brown eyes staring straight ahead. The barrel of the gun stared at him like a giant eye. Grey smoke rolled, twisting out of it, moving to the ceiling reminding him of his own cigarette smoke. He felt numb as the smell of gunpowder stung his nostrils. She stared at him, eyes filled with madness. Why had she done this? What had he done to deserve this? Slowly, like a dream, his body became heavy. He leaned against the wall, his legs unable to hold the weight. His hand went to the spreading wetness on his shirt.
He’d met her at the mall. She was coy and bright, with blond hair and lively blue eyes; a creature totally different than what he was used to. She smiled a shy, yet welcoming smile when they were introduced. Cassie was a few years younger but that didn’t stop her from flirting. She laughed at his jokes, and he smiled and listened to her talk about her young life, her plans and expectations, which seemed to be nothing but leisure. And before he knew it, they had a date.
He slid to the floor. Cassie dropped the gun and now sat before him. Her knees drawn to her chest as she hummed a song. He knew that song. What was the name of the song? It sounded so familiar, but everything was fuzzy. He reached a wet red hand out to her. She just watched, humming, and then she started to rock herself. What was that song?
Their first date: cotton candy, rides, popcorn, and a long first kiss. Their second date: fun, burgers, fries, and making out. She had a way about her that drove him crazy. Their third date: she sat on his lap, hidden, shirt off. He loved touching her, kissing her, exploring her soft skin. Her smell seemed to daze him. He wanted more. Her touch lit a fire in him. She was wild, untamed. He needed more, had to have more; he needed all of her.
He felt cold, shivering, his teeth clicking together. That song irritated him. He knew the song, a goofy song she had penned their song. Lame in its own way, yet, it was their song. And it irritated him as she kept repeating it over and over again. He opened his mouth, but only blood out. It felt like a warm drool leaking onto his cold skin. He coughed it, tasted it. The copper taste mingled with the gunpowder still lingering in the air and in the back of his throat. He wanted a blanket. Why wasn’t she helping him?
She would do stupid shit. He loved her, but still. It started with small hits. She would do something silly, and he would lightly smack her. She laughed, thinking it was a joke. And then she started messing up. And the hits got harder. Blows that made her cry out, and of course he felt bad, but she had to learn. Everything would be perfect if she learned the proper way. When he thought she had finally learned her lesson, she slipped again. He broke a rib, a fall the paper at the hospital said. He would see the bruises she hid, and he would feel slightly uneasy. But she had to learn.
He raised his hand to her again. Why would she not come to him? Anger swam through the haze that threatened to take over. He wanted to hurt her. He wanted her to get off her lazy, fat ass and get him some help. He needed help, and all she wanted to do was hum. He tried to move, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. He wanted to speak but couldn’t. He wanted to wrap his hands around her throat and strangle her. He wanted to watch her eyes bulge with panic as she struggled to breathe.
Black eyes, hidden under cover up, were usually the worst marks he made visible. All the rest were in places no one would ever see. She had started to displease him at everything, even sex. He would abuse her: beating along her back, biting her skin until she bled and cried out. And then she was ready to please him. The drinking saved him some sanity, but her stupidity about daily chores drove him beyond anger. If it had not been for the stupid dog, he might have killed her. Might. But then seeing her bloodied and bruised, he loved her.
Heavy and tired. The coldness spread to every limb, finger and toe. He watched the red pool he sat in get larger and larger. Cassie continued to hum that irritating song and rock back and forth. Was that a siren he heard? He couldn’t tell; the room was fading. He felt so tired. He wanted a blanket. A beer. Sirens? The world around him grayed until it finally turned black, but he still could hear the irritating humming and the sirens.
Cassie stopped rocking as the blood soaked into her pants. Her hands reached down, touching the cool dark copper-smelling liquid. Mark lay against the wall in front of her. Quiet. Sleeping? The humming stopped. Her hands played in the liquid like a preschooler finger-painting. She brought her hands up to her face, staring at them. She touched her face. The last time she would be so close to him. Her face now coated with a thin cover of crimson, she sang their song, “The world was on fire and no one could save me but you. It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do. I never dreamed that I’d meet somebody like you. I never dreamed that I’d love somebody like you. I don’t want to fall in love.”
He heard the loud sirens, cars screeching to a halt. Shouting, knocking, more shouting and the sound of the door being kicked in.
Cassie looked over to Mark, really seeing him. What had she done? She saw his chest rise. The cops will save him, and then he would come after her. He wouldn’t stop. She couldn’t let him live, she just couldn’t. But seeing his blood pooled on the ground around them made her chest hurt. The pain, did she really love him? After all the abuse? No. But if he lived, he would kill her; she knew it. Her hand felt the sticky ground, coming into contact with something hard.
“Ma’am, put the gun down,” he heard the cop shout.
Mark heard nothing from Cassie. “Ma’am, I said put the gun down!”
The shots echoed through the room. He tried to count them, but his brain couldn’t. He tried to open his eyes to see what had happen. But instead, the sounds started to fade, and he knew he was dying. His last thought was of that crappy song, “This world is only gonna break your heart.”