There is a cruelty unfolding in me I didn’t know existed. The click of my heels on the pavement echoes down the street, turning heads. I wear higher heels now, shorter skirts. I no longer stick to the safety of busy streets. I tempt fate and wander into the gloom of alleyways where the losers of the city huddle and sleep. The drunken, the homeless, the pickpockets. Petty criminals with petty ambitions. I stroll through their lairs of garbage. Bleary, poisoned eyes watch me pass, staring at me in disbelief.
“Stupid bitch,” they growl at me and they lift their bottles to dying lips. I tread holes in their cardboard beds with my stilettos and kick over their little cups of change. There is nothing they can do, they can barely climb to their feet. I hear the breaking of glass and the retching cough of sickness as I walk away. You see, there is nothing in the darkness I fear because I know you’ve got your eye on me. And you won’t let anybody hurt me, will you?
How long has it been now? I can’t remember my life without you. The purring of your engine wakes me at night as you cruise by my house. You wait until I come to the window before driving away. The sound of your breath, barely audible, on the other end of the phone. I can’t say a word. Sometimes you whisper my name in a muffled voice. It has been awhile since you last called. I saw you standing by the curb looking up at my office window. I saw you getting off the bus as I got on. I saw you sitting in the coffee shop. You are a formless shadow, your face a blur. Each time you move like lightning, when I look twice you are gone.
I roam the streets until I sense you, falling into step far behind me. I have something special to show you this evening. It is a short walk away. I will lead you there. Down to the harbour and the old warehouses along the docks. Follow me through the city park. Your footsteps are a numb, hollow thud in my chest. I stop and you stop. I walk and you walk. These winding paths lead into dark patches of trees and to the brim of a still, murky lake. I wonder how many have met their end here and if I will be one of them tonight? Of course I emerge from the trees unscathed, I know when you snare me it will be by your design not mine.
I received your letter today. Each letter you send is more intimate than the last. Our time is coming isn’t it? At work I lock my office door and lay out all your letters on my desk. Smeared black ink and putrid stains. I marvel at the details you manage to detect. You know when I wear a new perfume or lipstick, you know when I’m menstruating. And the portrait you drew is beautiful. The careful way you have rendered each fine stroke of my eyelashes and hair. My eyes are large dark orbs, the light in them extinguished. The drawing stares back at me from the page, frail and petrified. It is as if I was really there before you as you drew me. You have captured it well, that is how I feel. But there are a few things about me you are yet to glimpse.
I have left it for you here, this is where we part for now. By the time you enter the warehouse I will be gone, slipping away into the dark maze of the city, far from you.
You will sense it, as soon as you set foot in the building, something is not quite right. Keep walking, up dusty flights of stairs, searching the empty floors. You will be drawn to it, like a magnet, trust yourself. This is what you do best. And then you will finally find her, over by the wall, bound to a chair with heavy tape. Will a scream, sharp as a razor, catch in your throat? Will you crumple with silent impotent tears? I thought it was best to take care of her sooner rather than later. She was distracting you. And she was beginning to get too suspicious, asking too many questions. I heard her last night nagging you through dinner. She called your office three times today just to check your whereabouts. There were a few small changes I had to make. Her eyes were the wrong colour, her nose too big, her chin was the wrong shape. And that tacky bleached hair had to go. With a face lift and a short dark wig she looks just like me, don’t you think? My scent on her body now. I dressed her in the lingerie and dress I wore when you first saw me. I thought you would like that. The first time you singled me out from the crowd, the first time I felt the suffocating weight of your gaze. Yes, our time is coming soon. We are destined to meet, as both you and I know. But not tonight.
~ Magenta Nero
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