This story is by Casey Gibbs and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Daniel’s eyes snapped open. He looked at the time on the clock, which said 2:00 AM. He listened intently, but the only sound was the deafening silence. He rose from the bed and stretched his neck from side to side. It was time. He walked to the door, careful not to trip over his backpack near the bed.
He cautiously walked down the hall, vigilantly avoiding the creaky floorboards. It was dark except for the moonlight coming in through the window at the end of the hall. He reached his mother’s door and listened attentively. The only sound coming from inside was of her light snoring. With steady hands, he touched the cold doorknob and turned it gently. He stepped inside and walked to her bed. She was alone. Phillip was away on business, which is why Daniel chose tonight.
Phillip. Bile rose into his throat just at the thought of him. Why did she have to get involved with him? She had always belonged to Daniel.
He remembered the way she would let him brush her long, dark hair. He loved touching it, and every now and again, his fingers would graze her neck and he would feel a twinge of arousal below. There was a longing in her sultry, emerald green eyes that he always believed was for him. He loved sleeping in her bed and feeling her warm breath against his neck. Sometimes, he would pretend to have nightmares just so he could be close to her; feel her cool skin next to his. He would watch her sleep and imagine touching her supple skin, tasting her sweet lips. Occasionally, she would moan achingly in her sleep, and he just knew that she felt the same way he did; that she wanted him, too.
But then she met Phillip. He can remember vividly the night she came home with Phillip. He was tall, with blond hair and gray eyes, and a smile that Daniel saw right through. Phillip was looking for a cheap ride, and he found one in Daniel’s mother. He always said the right thing, as if he was reading directly from a “How to Get Laid” manual. Yeah, Daniel could see right through him. Daniel would have taken care of him right then and there, but he didn’t want to scare his mother. Besides, Phillip had a pair of guns that would make Charlton Heston rethink his stance on gun control. Plus, he was about a foot taller. Daniel was confident that if a battle ensued, he would lose.
But tonight, Phillip was gone. As Daniel stared down at his mother in bed, all he could think about was her betrayal. He really couldn’t blame Phillip for wanting to be with her; after all, she was a sexy, beautiful woman. What Daniel couldn’t understand, though, is how she could just throw him away like yesterday’s trash. Didn’t she see how much he loved her and how he would do anything to make her happy?
As tears filled Daniel’s eyes, his mom opened hers.
“Dan-“, was all she could get out before Daniel punched her in her throat, crushing her larynx. Her eyes bulged as she desperately gasped for air. Her eyes filled with fear and confusion as she stared into Daniel’s face. Her beautiful green eyes began turning red. He stared down at her with hatred and love – if he couldn’t have her…. He leaned closer and kissed her tenderly on her wet lips.
While she lay dying, Daniel walked across the room to her art easel. He removed the lighter that he swiped from 7-11 earlier that day from his jeans. There was an ocean-scented candle on the table next to the easel, which he lit. With one kick, the table tipped, knocking over the turpentine that was on the floor next to it and the candle came crashing down on top of the spill.
Flames quickly engulfed the corner of the room. Daniel rapidly walked back to his mother’s bed to look into her beautiful face one last time.
“I love you” is all he said.
He swiftly returned to his bedroom and retrieved his backpack, which had a change of clothes, shoes, cellphone, and the money he had been saving from his job at the movie theater. He would call his grandparents from the bus station. Once they learned their daughter was dead, they were sure to take him in.
His mother didn’t talk about her parents often. Apparently, Daniel’s grandfather was an ex-Army colonel and extremely strict. According to Daniel’s mother, his grandfather never let her date or go to school functions. But, they always sent Daniel money for his birthday and Christmas, so he didn’t think they could be that bad.
They lived in Costa Mesa, California. He was looking forward to the opportunity to live somewhere that didn’t rain all the time like Seattle. Sunny skies and warm weather were exactly what Daniel needed. He could ride a bike without having to check the weather, and he could become more tan, which would help him fit in with the other kids. He could write short stories or poetry. He liked doing that in school; he would always write stories and poems for his mother, and she always loved them. His mother.
The flames were quickly enveloping the house. His mother’s burning flesh was filling his nostrils, and he knew he had to go. He left through his bedroom window and walked to the edge of the lawn. He turned back one last time as his childhood home succumbed to the hot flames.
Sirens sounded as fire trucks, ambulances, and police raced toward the fiery home. Daniel stood on the lawn staring at what had once been a source of so much love. But he knew that if he couldn’t have her, then nobody could.
“Is anyone inside?” asked a firefighter. Daniel just stood there, tears rolling down his face. He watched as firefighters fought to save his home and his mother.
As Daniel turned away from the house, he noticed a car parked across the street that he did not recognize. His heart skipped a beat. Was someone watching the house? Him? He looked closer and saw nobody through the window. He released his breath that he didn’t realize he was holding. He walked down the street and away from his one, true love.