Short Story Thriller
The mornings were still cold, and the dread of waking up to face another day was pending as the alarm went off, Rebecca gently tapped the snooze option on her phone and covered herself in the warm inviting folds of her white blanket. White had always been her favorite color; its’ purity somehow negated the dark clouds that hovered over her. The alarm went off again, this time there was no way out, she had to wake up and face another day of pretending that she had made peace with all that had happened.
As she put on her make up, Rebecca looked at her face; it had aged considerably from the last time she saw it, perhaps my perception has changed she thought, as she grabbed her crimson lipstick and outlined her full lips. Rebecca never feared confrontation; it was conformity that frightened her. Her biggest battle in this life was conforming just the way he wanted her to. She glanced at her watch: 8:00 am it read. She made her way to his room and loudly knocked until the dog barked, “What?” he yelled in an angered voice, “It’s eight o’clock, you need to wake up honey or you will be late for work,” she replied. They slept in separate bedrooms, something that suited them both to a point, but nothing could take away those cold nights like the warm embrace of another human being. “Make me coffee please” he said as he walked past her in the hallway. “I don’t have time, I’m late,” she said as she turned around grabbed her purse and walked out of the house.
As she drove away she thought about who she could call to talk to on her way to the hospital, and just as the thought entered her mind her cell phone rang, “Hello Dr. Kraus, your patient is here for the eight am evaluation, are you in the hospital?” asked the nurse.
“I will be there in ten minutes, please make sure he fills out all the paperwork, thank you Clair,” Rebecca said as she took a deep breath and smiled, she thought to herself, maybe it was all worth it in the end, I got my dream, I am a psychiatrist, I help people deal with their demons everyday… now all I need is retribution.
Rebecca tried to listen as Lester McAdams, her 8AM patient, as he unfolded the details of his torrid life. She nodded in all the right spots and smiled when she needed to, but when she looked down at her notepad all she saw was one word, marriage, written in repetitive sequence on the page. After she had written a prescription for her client and sent him down the hall to group therapy, she took out her journal and flipped through its pages. It was a marvelous little book of secrets, she only wrote in it when there were her words came in the form of little poems and versus, they were few but noteworthy. She never could forget where she had purchased it, it was back in college, and an art class required her to go and see an art exhibit.
She was lucky enough to have found a showing in Santa Monica right by the beach. The artist was a photographer who spent a lengthy time in India capturing families, elephants and other daily routines in life size portraits. She looked down at its brown paper cover; it was bound by a leather string and had one red bead at the end to help hold a light knot. Its pages were made from recycled paper and bared an off white almost beige color. She always wrote in black ink, which made everything more concrete; Rebecca did not tolerate grey areas, except within her personal life. It was, and always had been one big grey area with him. As she analyzed why marriage was on her mind she remembered that today was her twenty-year anniversary today, which they never celebrated. Why? She thought as she brought the pen to her lips. Oh that’s right, because we are not married. He never married you, remember that, she thought. A painful spike crept up in the back of her throat as she tried to fight back tears that were welling up in her eyes. As his words echoed in her mind, she made a list of all reasons why he did not, and would not marry her. She reminded herself that it was her own actions, and compliance that he took advantage of. He was an abuser in that way and she allowed it. Why? She asked herself, why am I still staying? Its because of Max, he loves his father; you know that, she thought. She had to distract herself, her colleagues could not see her this way, and she did not have time to wallow in self-pity. She began to do her rounds in the hospital; she checked on her patients in the psych ward and reminded herself it could always be worse. But it was worse, she was unhappy and that was far more terrifying than losing one’s mind.
“I never asked you to stay,” he would say, but he never would let her go. Their relationship was like the Santa Monica waters, sometimes warm and sometimes cold, but always turbulent, and never boring. As her shift neared the end, Rebecca thought about a better distraction. Michael Di Lorenzo, a resident ER doctor at the hospital, was her distraction on many occasions when temperatures reached below zero at home. She pulled out her phone and sent a quick text, seconds later her phone rang.
“Is it cold again? “ he asked. Michael always preferred to talk rather than text; he never needed to hide behind the protective layer of technology, unlike him.
“There is a breeze that does not agree with me,” Rebecca replied. A smile slowly formed on her face, “the usual place, lets say six- thirty?”
“See you then beautiful,” he said. Michael was an attractive twenty-six year old, with black eyes and black wavy Italian hair, who was crazy about Rebecca; he made her feel alive again. It had been so long since she had that rush of life, the excitement of being desired by a man was crucial for her, for any woman, she thought. She looked at her phone as she pressed the end call button. It read: Thursday, May 15, 5:30 PM. Perfect, she thought. Thursdays he dropped off and picked up Max from school and they fended for themselves that night. She would always be ‘working late’ at the hospital on Thursday evenings, it gave her the alone time she needed, or the opportunity to see Michael. When she finally got home, it was late, and he was waiting for her, visibly irritated.
“Where have you been?” he asked in a calm tone, as he made his way to her.
“At the hospital, why is Max alright?”
“He is fine, “ he replied as he took her coat off. “I didn’t know they let doctors drink on the job?” he asked. He could smell wine on her breath.
“I had a glass of wine with my dinner after my shift, “ she replied, slightly irritated by the inquisition.
“Where have you been, I was waiting for you, today was our-“
“Don’t tell me that now after twenty years, you give a shit!”
“Well better later than never- you smell of him,” he said as he distanced himself from her, his intended embrace turned into retreat.
She began to laugh. “What did you expect? Do you think this is a satisfying environment?” she mockingly asked. “Did you actually think that your monthly conjugal visits were enough?”
“Don’t mock me, that is cruel, even for you Rebecca.” he said.
“Hum, Cruel, I am cruel?” She asked as she pushed past him to her room.
He followed defeated, but still hoping for a comeback. “You have always done what you wanted, you never think about me,” he snapped.
“Oh is that so? Is that why you got me pregnant, didn’t mention anything until I found out then proceeded to question if Max is your child after we shared the same bed for seven years?”
“How many times do I have to tell you I didn’t do it on purpose, that it was an accident!”
“Is that why you told me that you knew I was pregnant when I kept mentioning to you that my breasts were hurting? Who does that? Who can make that decision without asking me if I was ready, willing and able? Who?” she yelled, as she unzipped her black dress, a letting it fall to the ground.
He looked at her; there was a hateful wanting in his eyes.
“You are so beautiful, happy anniversary my love,” he said as he walked away, and he went to his room, closing the door;
Rebecca heard his mattress crunch as he let his body fall onto his bed. Retreat, it is all he knows, she thought as she got into her bed. That night she thought about all that was unsaid between them, how she for years had always wanted to be a bride, have a honeymoon, to be spoken for, but most importantly to be desired in a way that was past the flesh. But these things were not being to talked about, that is why they had separate rooms, to keep the ugly separated by drywall and paint. That is why Michael existed.
She climbed into her bed wearing only her undergarments, as she made herself comfortable she removed her bra underneath the bedcovers and let it fall to the ground. She let her alcohol-induced drowsiness take over and let herself drift away into a deep slumber. In the morning, she was awakened by his voice coming from the living room. “She’s in that room,” he said. Suddenly the door opened, two large male nurses in white scrubs came into her room, she knew all to well what this meant.
“Dr. Kraus, you will have to come with us,” said the first male nurse, he was medium height with a stout built.
Rebecca, pulled the bedcover over her chest, and stood up fearlessly. “So it has come to this,” she said. “Very well, please let me get dressed with some dignity,” she said as she served the room for a possible quick exit, her eyes landed on her bedroom window.
“I’m afraid that wont be possible Dr. Kraus,” said the second male nurse as he approached her slowly.
“This is a mistake, please tell them! Get away from me!” she yelled.
The two nurses approached her with caution, one had an uncapped a large syringe, in one quick action the contents of the syringe was inside her arm. After w few minutes of struggling her body was limp. When she awakened, she intended to stretch, but her limbs were restrained by leather cuffs, “No, No-N” she said as she began to cry, she could hear the clanking of the cuffs against the metal sidebars of her hospital bed. She knew this was it; there was no coming back home from here. She quieted herself for a brief moment to listen to her surroundings; she could hear the screams that echoed in the hallways, she thought of her son Max, his bright smile and tenders embraces she would never experience again. “I did this to myself, I did this to myself!” she screamed, in hopes that she could convince herself.