This story is by Natacha Rioux and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Honey, I’m home!
“Well, that was a fun night! And thanks for the ride!” Alicia waved at her friend and neighbor Mona and walked across the road to get back home. She was a bit tipsy, but in a wonderful mood. A clock on the wall of her kitchen indicated 3h44 AM. I can’t remember the last time I went out in a club and stayed up so late!
It felt good to dance with sexy strangers and forget all about her broken relationship – for a few hours at least. She still missed Paul deeply and she was trying to move on, but she couldn’t get over him. A little alcohol seemed to help. I have to be careful not to get drunk and start revealing…things. I could get in serious trouble.
She had told Mona about the reason of her break-up with Paul. It was the first time in a very long time that she was willing to share something personal about herself.
“I can’t believe that he left because you couldn’t get pregnant,” bluntly shouted her friend Mona.
In reality, Alicia got pregnant twice, but miscarried each time, putting her life in danger. After that, the only thought of getting pregnant again gave her the chills.
“Having his own kids was all that Paul would talk about. He couldn’t wait to have a big family.” After further testing, the doctors told Alicia she could never bring a child to term. She hid this from Paul. But somehow, he had known and left her.
“He told me that I could never open up to him. That I wasn’t willing to share anything personal. He said he barely knew me,” a depressed Alicia admitted to Mona.
Alicia decided to make an effort and to let people get closer to her. To make friends. But confiding in Mona had been hard for Alicia at first. She felt totally exposed. She used to be ashamed of her life. She didn’t anymore. I can’t let my past ruin my entire life!
One day, while Alicia was out for lunch, she had a visitor at work. He didn’t give his name. One of her employees described him as tall, slim, with dark hair – and an attitude. He asserted that he was an old friend of Alicia, returning into town. He also mentioned that he would be back. Alicia stopped breathing for a second, but then rationality took over. It must be someone from school, someone I have forgotten about, she assumed. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
Later, exhausted after a long day at work that didn’t seem to end, she was finally relaxing at home on the couch, when she heard a knock on the door. It was Mona. She seemed excited.
“I want to know everything. You have a new man in your life and you didn’t tell me about it?”
“What are you talking about?” inquired a puzzled Alicia.
“Someone came to your house earlier, while you were still at work. I heard a pick-up truck in your driveway. I peaked to see who it was. I had never seen that handsome stranger before. I just figured that you finally changed your mind and invited a guy out.”
“No, I didn’t. I am not ready to date yet. You should know that.” Alicia’s suspicion grew. “What did he look like?”
“Tall. At least 6’1”, if not taller. Slim. Short dark hair. He wore black pants, a black leather jacket and a scarf. He almost looked like a thug…but a classy thug.”
Alicia felt a chill down her spine. What if…Is it possible that he…Nah. Stop it. He is dead. She tried to hide her concerns. There was no way she was going to tell Mona that her demons were suddenly coming back to haunt her. That was too terrible of a secret to reveal. With anyone. Besides, it was all in the past. Or was it?
“Maybe it is someone I knew in college or something. Or some kind of creep who saw me somewhere and who follows me around. It wouldn’t be the first time.”
That night, she laid wide awake in bed, her thoughts running wild. She knew she wouldn’t get much sleep. For the past two months, she had been tossing and turning over her failed relationship. When she would finally fall asleep, her sleep had been agitated.
The reason of her agitation was different this time. She couldn’t stop thinking about that mystery man, imagining the worst. The harder she tried to calm herself down, the more she was driving herself crazy. I have to get to the bottom of this. I will figure out who it is and when I do, I will have a laugh about the silliness of it all.
The next day, it was one of those overly busy days at work, and Alicia had almost forgot about the incident. Until she got a text from Mona at around four o’clock, that is. Her heart stopped when she read the words.
The same pick-up truck is parked in your driveway as we speak. There is someone sitting in it. Looks like he is waiting for you to come home. Let me know if you want me to call the cops.
No, no, no!
What was this guy’s problem? Was he trying to scare her? Of course, you dummy. She was terrified. She felt hunted. She had to know who it was.
She didn’t have to wait long. An hour later, as she was in the backroom of the store, her cellphone rang. Unknown number. After hesitating, she picked up the call.
“Ain’t you hard to track down, sweetheart,” said a smooth-talking man’s voice all too familiar to Alicia. “Well, I got you now”.
Alicia froze. Her worst nightmare was coming true. Hearing that voice again after almost 20 years was chilling. She had to say something. Anything.
“Ah, Nick? Its you? You…ah…”
“…are alive?” He finished for her on a more serious tone. “Yes I am. We got so much to talk about. In person.”
Alicia doesn’t even know what she answered, or if she answered at all. She was too shocked. She realized he wasn’t on the line anymore.
The past has finally caught up with her. A past she assumed had been buried deep. And there he was. I am so going to die. Her entire body was shaking; her head was spinning. She could barely process the fact that Nick was alive. The husband she never divorced, but left for dead instead, in a pool of his own blood. The police never found her after she fled. After all this time, she had left herself believe that they never would.
What am I going to do now?
She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. She rushed to the bathroom and vomited. She stayed there a few minutes, her body still shaking and covered in sweat.
I can’t go to the police now. They will put me in jail. They would never believe that it was self-defence. And if I face Nick, I am dead. I am screwed either way. She had to get out of there.
The drive back was a total blur. It didn’t register with her right away that Nick might still be waiting at her house. There is no way to escape this, is there? Even if I drive off, he will find me.
She had to think fast. Her options? She had a 9mm in a safe in her bedroom. She had knives planted in each room in a case of emergency. But would she have time to get to her weapons?
She was relieved to see her empty driveway. No one was waiting at the door either, but she knew better.
He will show up.
She got in the house. The first thing she did was to walk around and inspect each room and every corner. He might have broken in, waiting for her inside. The place turned out empty. But for how long? The clock was ticking. Unless…
Could she just flee without a trace? Again? Did she have time? She paused for a second, considering this crazy idea. But she felt trapped no matter what. She resisted the urge to get drunk out of her mind. I need to keep my ideas clear for whatever is coming. She then went to the locked safe. Opened it. Grabbed the 9mm, the magazine and loaded the gun. What now? I put it in my belt and wait? It would be too obvious. Not mentioning that he is stronger than me. It would be a piece a cake for him to grab it and it would be over before it even started.
She took a brief look around in the kitchen, trying to find a concealed but accessible place to place the gun. She then remembered that there was an unused piece of wood under her retractable kitchen table, a piece that could almost be used as a shelf. She cautiously put the gun on it.
At that same moment, a knock at the door startled her. He didn’t waste any time. She took a deep breath and carefully opened the door. Nick was standing right in front of her, looking just as handsome as before, with a smirk on his face. He opened his arms wide and looked at her as if he was overjoyed to see her.
“Honey, I’m home!”
She just stood there, stunned by his overconfidence and twisted sense of humor in the circumstance. She tried to hide her fear. To act normal. She let him in. She offered him a seat at the kitchen table. He declined. He looked around him.
“Nice house,” he whispered in a normal, almost friendly voice. This small talk and casual attitude was unbearable to Alicia.
“What do you want, revenge?” blurted Alicia, defying him. “You came all the way here to kill me?” He looked intensely at her.
He then untied the scarf he had around his neck. Dropped it on the table. Exposed a huge and ugly scar on the left side, where the jugular vein was located.
“Remember what you did that night? Slicing me like a pig?” growled.
“I can’t believe you survived,” said Alicia. She was surprised by her own boldness. But then again, she had nothing to lose.
“I meant to kill you. For all you did to me.” She looked at him straight in the eyes. “You remember that part?”
Contempt replaced the evil smirk he originally had on his face. But she didn’t let him answer. She kept going, fierce and fearless, her adrenalin pumping.
“The first year with you was great. But then it changed. Do you remember the beatings you gave me? The hospital visits? And most of all, do you remember killing our child?”
“That child, as you call it, was never born. You were only a few months pregnant, and it was an accident,” said Nick.
“I was almost five months pregnant and it was no accident. You pushed me down the stairs. That night, I almost died. Well, too bad for you I didn’t. Because I swore that night to make you pay for it.”
“Well, too bad you missed.” He got closer to her, grabbed her neck with his right hand and squeezed. She stepped back while trying desperately to grab his wrist with all her might. He tightened his grip. She felt powerless. With his other hand, he reached for his coat pocket.
“Nobody leaves me for dead and gets away with it,” he whispered in her ear. He pushed her against the wall and in the blink of an eye, she felt something like a wire choking her.
A clicking noise was heard. Then a loud bang.
She had changed her mind earlier and had kept the gun in her belt. She took a long, gasping breath.
“Nobody tries to kill me twice and gets away with it.”