As soon as I took a sip, I realized it was poison.
Her eyes met mine just over the brim of my cup, looking at me the same way as they always had. There was not a hint of malice behind them. Nothing that would’ve made her look suspicious to the naked eye. If anything, the way she looked back at me was brighter than usual. I almost had to stop myself from throwing the glass out of my hand and reaching over the table to embrace her one last time. To share a moment of closure that I could take with me to the grave.
It wasn’t like we hadn’t thought about this plan before.
She’d been the first one to bring it up the day I confessed to her what I’d done.
It had been one of those perfect summer days. Where the temperature was just above eighty but the humidity outside was near to nonexistent. The nightmares I’d been having since we met had been increasing lately, so naturally she felt the need to ask what they were about. I hesitated before I told her.
Although we’d only been dating for six months, I knew that she could sense that there was something off about me. I never bothered to ask her what it was, but I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere close to the truth. A hidden mental disorder, a foster child, someone who had committed petty theft. Those seemed to be more her speed in terms of her line of thought.
As I described what I saw when I slept, in all of its vivid horror, her face twisted and frowned in ways that I’d never seen it before. There was a point where I’d wanted to stop. Sparing her from the rest of it would’ve been one of the few merciful acts I would’ve been able to do in my life. But she refused to let me, motioning for me to continue on.
When I was finished, she released the fists that she’d been clenching her hands into the entire time I spoke. Blood ran down her palms from cuts shaped like her nails, but she refused any help from me. Instead she wrapped a section of the sheets around them. Then, with all her might, she took a deep breath and faced me, with a confidence I knew she was faking.
“Do you…” She held on tighter to the sheets bunched in her hands. I let her take her time to find her words. “Have you been having them because of something that you did?”
I always wanted to turn her head toward mine and kiss her on the lips. Just so I could see her beautiful face, without her forehead tainted by wrinkles of worry that’d been getting deeper the longer we stayed together.
“Five.” I confessed. I’d never told anyone the exact number before. I hadn’t even thought that I would tell anyone about these nightmares. “They’re probably on my trail by now, you know.” I paused for a minute. She looked at me expectantly, waiting for more information so that she could understand just exactly the kind of trouble she was in. “What should we do?”
The plan came to her quickly. Almost too quickly, though I’d given her the benefit of the doubt at the time. My horrific reality might’ve sparked a bit of a devil in her. A side that everyone had but was only awoken when something came along to set it alight.
“It’s the best way for us to part ways.” She let go of the sheets with her one hand and slipped it into my own. It wouldn’t be the first time that I had blood on my hands. Maybe that’s why she hadn’t bothered to keep her palm covered. She figured that I didn’t care. “I won’t tell you when I do it. ”
I took a moment to think about it.
“Would you really do that for me?”
“Stupid.” She laughed quietly, pushing a lock of hair out of my face. There were tears in her eyes that I hadn’t noticed before as she leaned in to give me the last kiss that I’d ever receive. “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you.”
Those words echoed in my head as I set down the now empty wine glass. There was a slip of paper underneath of it that I hadn’t noticed before, too occupied with memorizing her face to care. With the bit of cognitive thinking that I had left, I slipped it out from underneath the bottom. Two words were printed on it in her handwriting.
One was her first name that I’d known since the day that I bumped into her at the train station.
The other was a last name that I’d never seen her use, that was all too familiar to me.
I looked up to her and back down at the paper, hoping with everything that I had read it wrong. Her expression didn’t change in the slightest. That smile that I’d grown so fond of. The one that woke me up in the morning with a sing-song voice, the one that greeted me at the end of a long day of work. I realized then that it wasn’t one of joy.
It was a knowing smile, one that was keeping a secret that would get her the sweet revenge she’d longed for since the confirmation I’d given her all those months ago. No wonder her eyes had looked so familiar. They were a carbon copy of the ones that had invited me inside from the rain.
The last woman that I’d ever killed.