He kept thinking he could smoke the monster out. It was an impossible feat, but he kept trying. What was left there with him was some rage filled shell of a woman. Sometimes she wondered if she would spontaneously combust at how mad she became at him. She kept him hanging there in the balance, wanting to torture him as he did to her. Not entirely sure what to do with him. She wasn’t quite ready to let him go, but she also didn’t want to keep him past the time it would take to hurt him. It was her only consolation, now that he had betrayed her. I guess it had never been fully agreed upon that they would not betray the strange agreement they had come to, but to her mind it had been engraved in stone. The man had built a life without her, behind her back, and now he didn’t even have the courtesy to pretend that he wanted her to be a part of it. She knew exactly what she was to him… an addiction, a whore, a living doll, and nothing more. She gave up the hope that he would ever have any respect for her, or any woman for that matter. And so, the hot nights with the man down in the city were a silent fuck you to him. She began to go more often than not, and she no longer felt even a bit of remorse afterwards, in fact she felt better… exhilarated even. She began to look forward to her secret more and more as the days grew longer and longer. She decided that would be enough for revenge, for now, for her being in the arms of another man is the thing he most feared. He had bought and paid for her before she even knew she had agreed to such an arrangement, and she had lost any sense of herself, or normalcy, or any real stability a long time ago. She only stayed for the money. When was the best time for one to walk away from thousands of dollars? And easy dollars. But she never had thousands, did she? She had just enough for the water, or electric, or the restaurant, or new pair of shoes she wanted and maybe a little bit more. But he always kept her wanting. He had the means to make all her small dreams come true, but doing that would foster an independence he desperately tried to avoid. After all, where would he be if she didn’t need him? If she didn’t depend on him to live? And so he flashed his fortune in front of her and made promises he never intended to keep. And she flashed her prettiest smile and made promises she never intended to keep. What a pair they were. Both lying to themselves and each other, and secretly praying for love. But love had failed here. And all that was left was the hate. The burning. The want for revenge. But this wasn’t a movie or a song, and revenge was a silly, juvenile dream. And so she drank her wine, and she smoked her cigarette, and she made her plans for the next day. And he woke up and tried to smoke the monster out again. He wasn’t even sure why he did it, it was though he was under some spell. But he kept trying. What he couldn’t understand was that Alice was long gone, and the monster is the only thing that remained. If he succeeded in smoking her out, there would be no one left.