Short Story
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                                 I Wait
                                                      By Larry C. Kerr


 I’ve been waiting all night because I know she will come here.  That wasn’t
difficult to figure out.  What is hard to understand is why.

 Why would she leave me?  She knew how much I loved her.  God knows I
had told her enough times, yet she did it anyway.  She went with him.  I did
the best I could to stop her.  At first, I tried to talk some sense into her.  
Then I warned her.  Finally, I begged her not to do it.  I hated myself
because of that - for turning into one of those pathetic men who can’t let go
- and perhaps she did, too.  Because in the end she went with him.  She
chose him over the man who… all right, over the man who cried as she was
leaving.

 I still remember the look she gave me as left me for him.  It wasn’t anger or
even disgust at my blubbering.  It was a look of pity and that was the worst
thing of all.

 I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I’m still that sad fool who
cannot admit he’s lost his woman.  Leave her alone, move on, for Christ’s
sake get a life, you’re saying.  Don’t you think I’ve told myself all of that? I
know how it sounds, but I cannot let it end this way.

 I wait.

 Why?  Because what they have is not what she and I had.  It is not true
love.  It is more of an obsession, but that’s not love, is it?  Love is not taking
over someone’s life.  It is not controlling her, having her at your beck and
call or meeting your every whim.

 It is caring for someone so deeply that you put her life ahead of your own.  
It is what I am doing now.

 The light of dawn seeps around the edges of a window and turns the
darkness in the basement of her house to a fuzzy gray.

 Suddenly, silently she has arrived.  I didn’t hear the door open or see her
descend the stairs.  She is just here and I have to clamp a hand over my
mouth to stop my scream.

 Without a sound, she glides over to the box where she sleeps now and
slides the lid off, but stops before climbing inside.  She sniffs the air like a
dog and I freeze.  My mouth goes as dry as the dust in her coffin and a
wave of piss-my-pants fear washes over me.  I pray she doesn’t detect the
horror-laden stench of my cold sweat.  Her head swivels around smoothly
like an owl’s and more than humanly possible, but since she is no longer
human it is possible.  For a moment her red-rimmed eyes fix on my hideout
and my breath catches in my throat.  Can she hear my heart pounding or
the blood pulsing through my veins?

 But before she can investigate, a ray of sun slips through a crack in the
basement wall of the house and falls like a spotlight on the floor.  She
makes a mewling sound – of dismay? – and climbs into her wooden box and
pulls the lid on top.  Wood scrapes against wood and the lid trembles before
settling into place.

 I wait a bit longer to make sure the sun has fully risen.  When I am
satisfied, I emerge from my spot, well aware of the danger.  I creep across
the floor and stand in front of her resting place.
I push the lid to the side just enough that I can see inside.  A putrid odor
wafts out and reminds me of dead things.  I nudge the lid a little more and
when I see that her eyes remain closed I know it is safe to begin my work.

 After pushing the lid off, I hesitate and take in the sight of what had been
my love.  Her skin is the color of the finest porcelain and it contrasts against
her now-dark eyebrows and long black hair.  Her lips are stained red from
blood she had drunk during the night.  The white skin against the grotesque
garishness of her bloody red lips makes her look like a clown.  But she is not
a clown and she is not funny.

 For a moment I am overcome and a sob escapes me, but I know whatever
it was that made her a woman and my lover is gone.  Replaced by
something else. I know I must rid her of it, but in doing so I will destroy her.

 I love her and it is because I do I’m able to take the wooden stake, put the
point between her breasts, raise my hammer and drive it between her ribs
and into her undead heart.  It is because I adore her that I am able to smash
the hammer down again onto the oak stake when after the first blow her
eyes fly open and reveal red orbs that glare at me with undead hatred.  
Because I care for her so much I strike a third time.  She claws at me with
filthy fingernails.  She hisses and emits such a foul smell from her mouth
that it is all I can do not to vomit all over her.

 Her heart pumps out the inky, black fluid that has somehow replaced the
blood in her body and she writhes like a pinned snake.  The hateful light
gradually fades from her mad eyes.

 I sink to the floor and cry over what has happened.  Not only I have lost
her, but part of myself died along with her.  However, I grieve only a short
time because she is gone now and nothing can bring her back and because
he will know.  He will come.

 I wait.