The Dive; A Short Short Story

I had no idea where I was going or why I was following the directions left for me on a napkin in a dive bar, but I continued on regardless. I shouldn’t have gone; it was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my recently ended life. That’s right, I’m a ghost, and this is the story of how I ended up here. My life was simple and boring, I was a run-of-the-mill student with average grades and virtually no personal life. I was a dancer, a writer, a musician – you know, one of those creative types that doesn’t thrive in social situations. You’d think after twenty-five years of life I’d have a little more to show for my “creativity.” Anyway, I promised a story.

After a particularly horrific break-up, I decided to pull myself out of my comfort zone and try a dating site. That was my first bad decision. I met a guy named Dave. He had only lived in town about a year and he was settled in and was looking to meet someone special. He was a surgeon by day, a late-night philosopher, and pretty damn attractive. We had a lot in common: he was an artist, he liked photography, and he was ready to settle down. Or at least this is what he told me. After about a month of conversing, he asked to see me in person. I reluctantly agreed to meet him at a shady local dive bar I usually avoided. Bad decision number two.

As I was headed to the bar, I received a text from Dave telling me that he had left a note with an address he wanted me to go to instead; the bar wasn’t exactly “his scene.” I wouldn’t normally go through with this kind of thing, but against my better judgement I went anyway. This is where I stop counting my mistakes: it’s all downhill from here. The address was a few blocks further; upon my arrival I knocked, and the door swung open from the force. There were no lights, not even light from outside filtered through the windows, and I could taste dust thick in the air. It seemed as though this house had been abandoned for years.

I cautiously walked into the pitch black darkness to search for Dave. I couldn’t see him, but a single lightbulb flickered on at the other end of the room. I remember thinking “this is how crappy horror movies start,” but I continued. I was nervous and called out for him. No answer, so I hesitantly walked toward the light. That’s when I saw it: a table covered with various metal tools with sharp edges and points. My heartrate increased and my breath grew shallow. I called out asking if anyone was there, my voice faltering with each syllable. Still no reply. I edged myself closer to the table, and my feet froze in place once I noticed traces of blood on a few of the tools. I couldn’t tell how fresh the blood was, but I was smart enough to know that I shouldn’t be there. I urged my feet to move, begged my eyes to turn away from the instruments. I needed to run but I couldn’t even move, I was paralyzed with fear.

I abandoned all hope with the echo of a step behind me. The next thing I know, there’s a ten-inch blade being forced through my abdomen. There was no pain, it was like a hot spoon fresh from the dishwasher, plunging into freezer-burned ice cream that had been in your freezer for as long as you could remember. I only felt the blade cold and wet like ice water as it tore through my insides.  Still, it wasn’t nearly as cold as “Dave’s” eyes as the corners of his mouth twisted up into the most sadistic smile I’ve ever seen while he stood over my fallen figure. The sickening sound of his moaning in pleasure from killing his prey will forever resonate in my mind.

That’s my story, no “once upon a time” or “happily ever after,” but it’s realistic enough. Something similar could happen to you, no matter how smart you think you are. So, don’t follow a stranger’s directions sloppily written on a napkin in a dive bar on a bad side of town. You’ll find yourself as every horror movie cliché you could possibly recall, even if you saw it coming the whole time.

Watching; A Short Story

A heartache wrenched girl waited for the opportune moment to express her feelings. She wanted to shout it from the rooftops, break all the sound barriers; but she was holding on to a useless vision. She had fought and fought to break herself from the ties of her previous captor; it took everything she had. She had spent years simply trying to fix the damage that was done; wondering when the light in her life was going to come back on. Lately, she’s only realized that tragedy is a reality waiting for a contradiction. I wanted nothing more than to tell her…

Stop… Don’t breathe…

It hurts less if you don’t breathe.

She continued to wait for her opportune moment; many came and went. I observed this whole time, watched her be torn and tossed like a ragdoll every time she tried to open herself up to someone new. I heard her cries in the middle of the night every time her date never showed up. I heard her talk to her friends about how she knows she deserves better every time she let one of her dates push her too far. It was all an act. She hid her tears from everyone, but she could never hide them from me.

I watched the confusion that was implanted in her mind, the way she would let them look at her and manipulate the truth. It killed me to watch as she would wrap herself around the fingers that had caressed so many girls’ faces before hers. I’d seen their type before; their eyes sparkled, like a candy laced with the deadliest of poisons. I couldn’t stand to watch her throw herself into their arms only to end up devastated seemingly moments later; no longer could I sit by and watch as she wasted away into the abyss. Her love was a disease, and it was eating her away.

The years went on, I kept watching. I wished that a cure would come; that their games would end. I hoped against all odds that someone would finally look beyond her past and see the full glory of her soul. Someone needed to see her for who she was; such a sweet, soft human being. Only I saw her behind closed doors. No one knew what she put herself through to deem herself good enough for them. She wouldn’t show the ways she bent and twisted herself into everything that she wasn’t just to make them happy for a night.

Their “love” was a game, strategically moving across the playing board that is her body. They always seemed to play exactly the right card at the right moment to catch her off guard. They took advantage of her weakness, which was simply that she loved too much. I wanted so badly to pull her from this sick version of Candy Land, “everything is her fault” was how the spinner always landed. She just needed to know….

Stop… Don’t breathe…

It hurts less if you don’t breathe…

Oh, how desperate I was for her to notice that I was there. I wanted nothing more than to save her, to give her the love that she deserved. But she didn’t even know I existed. She would face me every single morning. Her eyes sparkled like candy, much like the poisoned sweetness in her prospective partners’ eyes. But there was always more, more depth. Every morning I stared into her eyes, begging her to realize how much she was worth to me. Pleading for her to hear me.

Each year the sadness in her eyes grew more and more. If I could have just got her to hear me, see me, anything… I could have saved her. I did everything I could; I would draw her pictures on the glass while she was in the shower, I would turn the radio on before she came home from work so she wouldn’t be hit by the silence she normally lived in. I needed her to know I loved her. She needed to know…

Stop… Don’t breathe…

It hurts less if you don’t breathe…

I wish I had tried harder – found a way to get to her before she went to such drastic measures. She bent herself in so many ways for those she craved that she finally broke. She had waited so patiently for him to call; he’d promised that he would. I watched her sit in silence in the chair in the living room – staring right at me – as the hours crept by. Her expression never changed, but her eyes grew darker and darker. She still didn’t see me…

After what seemed an eternity, she stood and disappeared from my view. A small panic filled me, and I hoped that she had enough sense to make good decisions. I couldn’t exist without her; she needed to realize that I was there, that I was everything she was looking for and more. We would have been perfect together. She settled back into the chair where I could see her. She had started crying in the moments that I couldn’t see her. She had a small bottle in her hand, I couldn’t tell what it was. I watched her shoulders rise and fall with each deep breath she took as she opened the bottle.

Her tears came faster, her hands trembled. I screamed out to her as I watched her take pills one by one, choking out apologies that would never be heard. She deserved so much better than this. I slammed my fists against the glass partition that separated us as hard as I could. I begged her to stop, pleaded for her to just look up and see me. No longer able to retain my own tears, I watched her slip into sleep. I knew she wouldn’t wake up again. Her form slumped into the chair, the bottle with the few remaining pills fell and rolled across the floor. I was shaking; I would give anything just to see her eyes flutter open as they did every morning.

Not this time. Her body stayed crumpled in the corner, her spirit rose slowly from it. She looked back at the life she had thrown away and I watched as what appeared to be a smile cross her face. This was the happiness she had always wanted.

I pressed my hand against the glass, my throat still felt tight. She turned and looked at me, and for the first time I think she saw me. She looked frightened, but I didn’t know how to help her; I called out to her. This was my opportunity to show her amazing she was. Maybe I could finally be with her. I couldn’t help but smile as she slowly approached the glass. I could tell that a part of her knew that I was always there when she returned my smile. She reached out to put her hand on mine, the glass still divided us. I couldn’t pull her to my side. But I loved her, and I think she loved me too because she stayed here with me.

Although it’s agonizing never being able to hold her and comfort her on the nights when her cries shake the building with wind, I’m glad to have her. Every night, I watch her body collapse into that chair as she relives the moments of her death indefinitely. The torment of her soul keeps her trapped in this infinite loop, and I won’t move on without her. It’s agonizing to watch night after night, but the moment she smiles at me makes it all worth it. At least now she knows I’ll always be here for her, just on the other side of the mirror.