This story is by Sue Munoz and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was Autumn, the mornings were crisp and cool and Christina loved this time of year. Except for those times when she let herself think, think way too hard and long. Autumn brings back memories, and when she lets herself think back to her childhood, she only gets so far and stops herself.
When Christina was 16, she would stay with her father during the summers and return to live with her mother in the Fall, before school started in September. There are many memories she has become very skilled at blocking, but when she lets herself, she remembers too much. She remembers returning to her mothers’ one year, going to an end-of-summer party, and being beaten to where she could not see out of her left eye, she remembers being raped by her best friends’ brother and his 3 friends, she remembers waking up in a house she did not recognize, only to be raped by a stranger.
Anne was the best thing that had happened to Christina. Anne was caring, smart, educated, responsible, and best of all, not dramatic. Anne loved Christina, but even more-so, she loved the thought of helping her emotionally, almost being a mother figure to her, even though Christina was thirty-two. Anne was the first woman Christina had ever had a romantic relationship with, and at first, Anne was hesitant, but Christina was beautiful and there was something about her that was hard to resist. Maybe it was the subtle innocence Christina tried so hard to hide, or the shy but strong demeanor she portrayed, nonetheless, Anne was more than attracted to her.
Christina was also intrigued by Anne. For Christina, just the thought of being with a woman was mysterious and exciting. Christina had not dated many men, in fact, the men she had dated had not been a challenge, which in turn, bored her. She thought dating Anne would change that.
And it did.
Christina did not expect to fall in love. Once she realized what was happening, she didn’t want anything different. For both Christina and Anne, love was something neither had expected. Christina began to feel those euphoric feelings of butterflies, and safety, and this was a first.
Anne was ready to make a lifelong commitment, she had several failed relationships and did not want another one on her record. She felt determined more than anything, for this one to be the last. Anne didn’t have a mean bone inside of her, she just wanted to be happy and share her love with someone who was as sweet as her.
It was Fall, specifically, late September, Christina had just woken up and could smell the wonderful aroma of coffee being made. She was about to jump out of bed, excited for a Sunday morning chat over coffee, with her love, but was still so tired. Christina decides to lay in bed for a few more minutes and fights closing her eyes, but again, dozes off. Minutes later, she hears whispering coming from the kitchen, maybe the living room, she could not tell. She figured Anne was quietly chatting on the phone with her mother, as to not disturb her, it was Anne’s regular Sunday morning call.
Christina splashed cold water on her face, brushed her teeth, checked her weight on the scale, and headed quietly to Anne to give her a peck on the neck while she was talking to her mother. As she tip-toes into the living room, she sees Anne on the phone, she tip-toes closer and hears her whispers, she thinks she hears Anne crying and whispering ‘Please, I love you and didn’t mean to hurt you’. Christina begins to feel her heart beat like it’s going to explode out of her chest, did I hear her right? She says to herself. Her mind starts racing. Has she been cheating on me? Is this really happening?
Christina is frozen, she can’t move, she wanted so badly to turn around and leave the room, but it was too late. Anne realizes she is not alone in the room and abruptly hangs up the phone, wipes her eyes, and forces a smile. They locked eyes, as if both were searching for something to say. Christina forces the words “So who were you just talking to, Anne?” After seconds of silence, Anne confesses. “It was Julie, you don’t know her, she is someone I used to work with.” The tone in Anne’s voice is nothing but sadness and hurt. And then, Christina knew it, this was the worst thing that could happen.
“We recently connected again through Facebook and just I just ran into her a few weeks ago, when I was buying some groceries,” Anne said. “We have met a few times for drinks, and I am so sorry.” “Ok, well is that it?” Christina barks. “Not really” says Anne. She gives Christina a look as though she does not want to say it, but only says it with her facial expression, there is more, oh, so much more. Now Christina is furious but crying, all at once. They have been intimate. All she wanted to do is walk away, she knows this would be the best decision, but she can’t. Something must happen, something must hurt Anne, something must make Anne feel the way she is making Christina feel, which is worthless, trash.
Christina wonders how she could have been so trusting, so weak and vulnerable to fall into a love that was uncertain. With a woman, no less. The men she had dated in the past were simply distractions from her real life. Men were expected to be cheaters and hurtful, she had learned this early in life. She expected to feel safer with a woman, opposed to a man, since so many men have hurt her physically and mentally in the past. It never crossed her mind that a woman could do the same.
Christina packed up her clothes, luckily this is all that she had to do in order to get out of Anne’s house, she had nothing to pack but clothes. She left, but she kept the house key. She is already planning revenge. How could a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning turn so hateful and vengeful so quickly? Christina did not do well with drama. She never learned how to cope with the negative. She didn’t want Anne to physically hurt, but what other choice did she have?
It was the day before Thanksgiving, Christina was on her way to Anne’s house, she still had the house key. She knew Anne would be home as they had discussed Thanksgiving when they were together, and Anne would be cleaning and preparing certain foods the day before. Anne was having a big gathering at her home and inviting friends.
It would be quick and clean, Christina knew this. She wasn’t going to kill Anne, just scare her.
Christina parked a block away, walked up to the house with a glass bottle filled with chloroform inside her jacket. All she wanted to do was scare Anne and make her suffer, like she did. She also was wanting control over Anne, and this would be sure to take care of that want.
Christina opened the side door to the house, could it really be this easy? She hears Anne out on the back patio, and waits for her to come inside. She doesn’t want anyone to see what is about to happen to Anne. Suddenly, Christina thinks she hears the fire trucks coming down the block, and see’s Anne outside in the back, frantically unwinding the garden hose and trying to get the water going. Christina panics! Should I leave? She says to herself. She quickly grabs a knife from the knife block, just in case. She turns around to get out of the door frantically, and is stopped abruptly by a 3 very tall fireman, still having the chloroform and knife in her pocket!
It was a crisp and cool afternoon, and Anne stands up from the table to thank everyone for being with her on her first Thanksgiving at her home. Christina grabs her hand as they both raise a glass of wine to their best friends.
Oh, what a dream! Christina realizes while lying in bed next to Anne, that she should never watch gory, scary movies before going to bed. She turns over to give her love a good morning kiss but the only thing lying next to her is a dried rag that was once soaked with chloroform.