He had watched her.
He’d watched her from a distance for the longest time.
The young woman, across the street, at 1206 Ashburn Court, had been of a particular interest to him ever since he had seen her getting ready for bed three years ago. Well, getting ready for bed wasn’t exactly the right term. She just stood there. He hadn’t meant to see her, he was getting ready for bed himself when he saw her light flick on. And there she was in all her glory. It irritated him a bit that he couldn’t see her face, she was standing too close to the small octagonal window.
It was funny that he had never noticed her before. The little house had always been occupied but, come to think of it he’d never noticed by who. He was always too wrapped up in his video games. He liked them because he could figure them out. They were simple. They weren’t like the girl across the street, with her mixed signals. She always stood in the window, she always let him look, but she never came to see him. He didn’t even know her name.
He had left her gifts, of course. First, he had left her flowers. All girls liked flowers. He had considered leaving a note but what was he going to say?
Thanks for letting me watch you at night.
No, that would be weird. He wasn’t weird. Flowers would suffice. He took them over one afternoon when he was sure she was not at home. His mother was at work. He had plenty of time to watch her come home and find them. But she didn’t. In fact he didn’t see her come home at all. He watched for her for several hours, focusing intently on the driveway and the little grouping of flowers he had pulled from a flower bed down the street. To buy flowers was out of the question. He didn’t have his own money and asking his mother for some would have made her question why he wanted it.
He’d watched for so long that his mind began to drift toward his video games. He liked those. He could play to pass the time, just a little while. The next thing he knew the sun was going down. He hurried to the window and pressed his face against the glass.
There were lights on in the house. He had missed her! He scanned the little porch for the flowers and they were gone. His heart gave a sudden skip of excitement! She had found them. She would surely come to him now. Then, just as quickly as his excitement swelled it fell. There were the flowers, tossed into the yard. She had rejected them, rejected him.
He had not expected this. She was a tough one, his lady. It hurt a bit, yet she was still at the window that night, allowing him to see her. She couldn’t have hated them too much, then, he thought to himself. He would try again. He would focus on nothing else, not even his video games. He really liked those. But he liked her more. Perhaps flowers were too girly. She may be a darker soul.
He could appreciate that.
It took careful planning but the next gift he left her was a blackbird – a dead one. It was no raven, but in his considerations, he decided maybe she liked poetry. Not just any poetry, but of the dark and twisted sort. Edgar Allen Poe had resonated with him and it would with her, too. Unfortunately, this gift also failed to impress his lady. In fact, she didn’t seem to notice it at all. It sat near the front door for two days and she never came home. On the third day, it was gone, packed off by some animal. And so it continued for three years. He would leave her gifts, they would go unnoticed or she would reject them. Sometimes she didn’t come home for several days but when she was there she never denied him a show. She cared for him, he knew it, so why hadn’t she come to him? What was he to do to prove himself?
It hit him one day, like a ton of bricks. Of course! How had he not seen it before? He got up and he ran to the window. She wanted him to be bold! She didn’t want to come to him, she wanted him to come to her! Like Romeo went to Juliet, she wanted a show of his love, not flowers or birds. He was dumb. He didn’t even have to think about how he would go about it, he found he already knew and he would do it tonight.
He waited patiently in his room, fixated on the little octagonal window on the second floor. He knew it would not open and he probably couldn’t even get up to it if he tried. His mother had gone to bed early and he had sat in the cool darkness of his room ever since. What if the light never came on tonight? What if she didn’t come home? His fears were unfounded, though. The light eventually came on and she was there. It was time.
Silently he slid his own window open and crawled into the yard. He checked his surroundings, all was quiet. He looked back up to the window across the street only to find her gone. She must have gone down to let him in. He bolted across the street and onto the porch. Peeking in through the windows he could see she wasn’t there. He tried the door but it was locked. Slinking like a cat and keeping to the shadows he went around back and found another door. He tested it and found it unlocked. So she liked games…he could get used to this. He entered the home, careful not to make much noise.
He wondered where she was. Probably in the bedroom, waiting for him to come up. As he crossed into the living area he noticed a side table with a framed magazine article on it. A young man, thin, dark features smiled up at him. He was holding a large pair of scissors, cutting a ribbon that roped off a store called Derek By Design. Perhaps he was a friend of hers. He found his way to the stairs and began to climb. With each step his excitement mounted, his heart pounded in his chest. He was finally with her.
He could see the bedroom door ajar, a soft light spilling into the hall. All that stood between him and his lady were just a few feet of carpeted floor. He hurriedly closed the distance and pushed the door open. She was there, her back to him, facing the bed. He was there with her. But something wasn’t right. Another man was there, holding a piece of fabric to her waist. He stared at the man who was touching his lady and the man stared back, his face a mess of shock and horror. It was Derek, from the article in the frame. Not just a friend, the words flashed across his mind in a flurry of confusion and hurt.
He turned to look at the girl he had spent three years loving and his face faded into pure terror.
Where was her head? What has he done to you!
The man called Derek was standing now, the fabric he was holding falling to his feet, a tape measure around his neck. He was saying something, screaming.
Who are you? What do you want? He could hear the words but they made no sense. It wasn’t right, where was her head! Derek was shoving him now, and he felt himself hit the door frame behind him. He heard his own voice bellowing from his throat in unintelligible moans of rage. He pushed Derek back and then Derek lunged at him, knocking him into the banister. He heard a loud crack, and he was falling. Falling down, and the man called Derek who was not a friend at all was getting farther away.
He felt his head smack something hard and unforgiving. The pain was immense. He felt his leg snap as he rolled down the stairs and came to rest on the landing. Blood filled his vision and he could hear the other man in the distance calling for help. His eyes grew heavy and they began to close, and all he could think of was this was not how this should have gone. It had all somehow….deteriorated.