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by Madison Miller 10 months ago in fiction

by Madison Miller

Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

It’s been a hard few months. A global pandemic forcing all of us to quarantine inside. Social gatherings ruined and endless time spent alone with only your thoughts or Tik Tok. It seems like a metronome is going off in your head counting the minutes since this has all began. I lost my job, along with many others and was financially tanked. Forcing me to move back into my childhood home with my parents.

To avoid the overbearing eyes of my parents who think I’m going to lose my sanity, I go for extended walks to get away. I try not to feel bad about my situation because I know some people have it much worse right now. People dying from Covid, suicide rate at its peak from little to no distraction of being stuck with your own head. Relationships strained when you can’t avoid what is truly wrong with one another. It’s hard to avoid unhappiness when it is your only company in quarantine. Loneliness is clearly what everyone feels but at least it’s a joint experience. You can scroll through Bumble or Tinder and see it all right there in your DM’s. This shit is really taking a toll.

As I'm walking along a trail, I see a chair hidden under a willow tree a little ways off. An old salmon colored Tommy Bahama beach chair that has been weathered from being outside too long. Positioned beneath the willow tree, on a covered bank next to a tiny stream running by. The grass is long and lushes and there are branches lying over the stream. Walking around the little space, my foot slips and gets caught in a divot. Trying to pull my foot out but it is caught in roots. It takes a few moments to shimmy my foot out, nearly taking my boot with it. As I regain my foot back, I notice there is something at the bottom of the divot, covered by grass and soil. I push back the debris and my hands glide across smooth leather.

Pulling out a little black journal, covered in soil making the outside of the pages brown and green from the earth bleeding into it. The pages have been warped from the elements and the leather has creases like someone has been aggressive with the pages. I look around me and I am only a few paces away from the trail I was walking on. The trail is placed right between two neighborhoods. Through the brush I can see the shape of some houses, but this spot seems dense and covered making it a private alcove.

Opening the first page, I was hoping the writer had penned their name on the first page. Instead in the box where the owner is supposed to sign their name was written “For the sake of prosperity and to not be forgotten…” The letters were really slanted and dark as if the person writing was forcing the pen aggressively into the paper to the point that it might have torn a hole.

"This has been going on for too long, and I cannot take it anymore. Please read all the way through for proof, reason, and instructions. It must be read all the way through and instructions must be followed carefully, my life depends on it…the bastard must pay. "

“Oh shit…” I look around again to see if I am still alone, this feels unreal. Inhaling sharply, I check the time on my phone and see that it is around 2 o’clock. I grab the back of the Tommy chair and wriggle it into a patch of mud that is hidden behind the willow tree branches. Plopping in the chair, I wrap the scarf around my neck tighter and pull my hat down over my brows to get comfy so I can dive into this mysterious journal.

Part 1: The Beginning

Please don’t judge me, I didn’t see it coming. He was sweet and genuine at the start, a perfect gentleman. Always opening doors, buying me flowers, taking me on thoughtful dates…We fell in love fast. He was charming and everyone loved him. My family loved him, my friends. Everything went smoothly, we met junior year of college and moved in together after graduation. I loved his friends, and our groups meshed well. We constantly went out with his buddies and their girlfriends, went to their weddings. He proposed a month after I started my dream job and got married a year later. Everything felt like a dream…

Part 2: The Shift

…A few months after our wedding, his behavior started to change. He kept saying he wanted us to start trying for a family despite my desire to work awhile longer since I loved my job. He started gaslighting and manipulating me, while also begging me for love and for us to try to have a baby. It was all confusing. But worst of all, he cut me off from my family and friends. Slowly our friends wouldn’t answer my calls or texts when I later found out he had spread rumors I was cheating on him and using drugs, that I was mentally unstable. But I didn’t know that was the reason, because he told me it was that they were jealous of me and my job and our relationship. As well, we had a lot of money and he said they found us greedy, so it led me to cut ties. The worst was with my parents, I really don’t know how he did it but he turned them inside out in my mind, telling me I couldn’t trust them that they didn’t have my best interest in mind…and the worst part is that I believed him…

Part 3: The Unraveling & Proof

(Pages and pages of screenshot text conversations of nude pictures of other women, Venmo under another name sent to other women for sexual encounters, countless bills from hotels and a burner phone.)

…This was not the man I thought I knew. Once I opened Pandora’s box, there was no going back. When I confronted him, he laughed and said I had nowhere to go. No one would take me since the rumors he spread, my reputation was destroyed. He convinced me not even my parents loved me or wanted me. He started to get physical and tracked me wherever I went. I quit my job because I didn’t want them to see the cuts and bruises. This went on for months, I was in the prison of this relationship…

Part 4: The Plan & the Ending.

...A gun with a silencer has been provided, as well as gloves so no DNA would be left behind. It is all in a tin box beneath where you found the notebook…Follow the rest of the details as instructed. It must be done precisely as I have written, and you must do as I tell you to finish the job.

My jaw drops as I look over to the divot I had tripped into. Rushing over I start shoveling away soil as I dig deeper into it, my nails start to scrape over tin making the box rattle and ring. Grabbing ahold of the box, I pull out a Christmas cookie tin that looks 40 years old with a Santa winking on the front of the box with a bag slung over his back. I unclasp the front and shake open the top of the tin and the bottom falls down in a thud. Inside, a shiny grey gun with gold bullets strewn around. Looking at my phone I realize it is now 5:30 and the sun is falling fast. Grabbing the gun, I place in the bullets like I know what I am doing, and put it in the waistband of my leggings, shuffling away from the tree.

I just keep moving, holding the notebook open on the last page. Inside houses, lights are starting to turn on, but it is dark on the trail which is positioned in the backyards. I walk house by house, seeing families moving around kitchens and setting up places at dining tables. It is so quiet I can hear my blood running in my head. When finally, I see a brown house with white shutters, darker than all the others. A woman is standing at the bay window working at some food and keeps looking out the window. The lights are turned down low and a man is sitting at a dining table a few paces from her. I sneak up to a bush just at the outskirts of the tree-line and see a red ribbon tied in a bow on one of the bristles, it has a key hanging from it.

I watch as the woman brings plates to the table, her steps ginger. The man is just looking at her watching her every move. Once she has set the food down in front of them, she sits at the table. He starts in on the food while she waits. Their mouths moving in conversation every few minutes or so. It all seems calm until I see his hand slam the table and her shoulders jump to her ears. Their voices are raising but I still can’t make out what they are saying but he is standing up from his seat while she starts to cower. He rushes over to her and smacks her across the face which causes her to buckle and knock over her glass of wine.

I take quick strides over to side of the house where a mud room door is concealed by trees from the neighbor’s yard and place the key in the lock. Through the door I can hear yelling and crying. It covers up the sound as I creak the door open and walk in. “You are worthless! I can’t believe you want to leave me! You can never leave me!”

“Stop it! You are hurting me!”

“You belong to me; I will never let you leave!”

“Let me go!” I can hear her whimpering and crying herself hoarse.

“If I can’t have you, nobody can!” Then an earth-shattering scream. I grab the gun from my waistband and barge through the door and see the man leaning over the woman with his hands around her neck, putting all his weight down. As I am entering the room shock fills his eyes and he lets up slightly on her neck as she rolls her eyes back towards me nodding and I position the gun towards him. Then BANG.

Blood fills his white shirt as he tumbles over the side of the woman, she scurries up and stands above him as he gasps for air, blood spurting from his lips. His eyes are darting everywhere in confusion as the woman’s face goes from terrified to triumphant, “You deserve to die, fuck you Aidan.” She walks away from him as the life leaves his body, she is limping towards me and has bruises raising on her neck. She reaches in a purse nearby and pulls out an envelope “Here, take this, it’s all there. All $20,000. I can wire you more in a month or so when this clears up,” I take the envelope from her shaking hand, “now shoot me in the leg.”

“Wait…what...” I try to object, but she harshly interrupts me.

“You have to, it has to look like we were robbed, and he was murdered. Please. it just has to be done this way, please..plea” while she is begging I quickly raise the gun up and fire into her calf as she screams. “GO. NOW.”

I run out the way I came while I hear her scream in pain. Heading straight back to the willow tree, I place the gun back into the tin box and re-bury it in the divot but keep the notebook. I start heading back home while thinking this was the most interesting Craigslist inquiry I ever stumbled across.


Madison Miller

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