Delayed Gratification

A friend of mine writes short stories based on writing prompts.  I thought I’d join in.  Here’s my first short story inspired by this writing prompt:

The protagonist wakes one morning gagged and tied to the bed and there’s a maniac sitting in the bedside chair.

The following story is a bit creepy and sad so TRIGGER WARNING.

Enjoy!

.  . .

He had waited for this, hadn’t he? Hoped for it? Sang perverted little prayers for it? It had finally come.  She had.  Was it not fate after all these years of leaving breadcrumbs for someone to find him, that it should be her?  So many years went by; so many places went by; so many others went by. 23 years.  Her eyes still looked the same.  That sad look of someone who’s had too much responsibility in a short amount of time.

She sat in the chair beside the bed.  Strands of short hair stuck to the frame of her face from sweat.  Her eyes were alert but still sad.  Tears clung to her lashes like dew on blades of grass.  What those tears must have cost her.  He wished he could lick them off.  Drink that sorrow and pain and regret and let it fill his entire body, tip to tip, pushing out that hot feeling he would get.  Fill him up so he could feel something besides lust and rage and impatience.  But he was tied up and gagged.

The blood on his temple was caked and dry He must have been out for a while.  She was stronger than she looked.  And patient.  But for how long?  He was too tired to think of escaping.  23 years is a long time.  23 years is a long time to wander.  23 years is a long time to wait.

She knew he was awake but she hadn’t said anything.  She wanted something from him.  Why else would she have kept him alive? Of course she did.  Of course she wanted something.  She wanted answers.  All that boring trifle people concern themselves with.  Didn’t she see that he had freed her?

She moved.  Slowly and painfully, she rose from the chair.  A statue coming to life.  How long had she been waiting for him to wake?

She came near him.  He could tell her face tried not to betray her disgust. Or was it fear? She tore the gag from his mouth.  He knew she wanted to hurt him.  But she had waited a long while.  She wanted to savor this. Delayed gratification.  Yes.  Hadn’t he always enjoyed that part of the game? That sweet pain of denying his impatience? Refusing to give into instinct until just the right moment?  The wait.  The agonizing, titillating wait was almost the best part.  Almost.

A long knife sat on the nightstand behind her.  He wasn’t frightened.  The pain she would surely rain down on him would be sweet. Here she was.  He had saved her.  And she would be his savior. Save him from the poison in his mind.  He was old now.  It was getting harder and harder to block out the agonized faces and the screams floating around in his mind.  He couldn’t stop himself.  So he had to be stopped.  And here she was to bring him relief.

“Do you remember Asher Wain?” she asked.  Dry and controlled.  He could tell she had rehearsed this.

He lowered his eyes.  Asher’s face.  Those eyes.  Not like hers, no.  There was pure innocence in Asher’s eyes.  Then confusion.  Then terror.

“Yes,” He answered.

Steady breathing. “Do you know who I am?”

He smiled.  He had noticed her on the school playground.  She would swing on the swings, sit on the seesaw, slide on the slide like all the other 9 year olds.  But almost absentmindedly.  Always with an air of preoccupation.  Always watching Asher as he sat under the monkey bars, his blank face up towards the sky, counting the minutes.  The minutes.

He smiled.  And lifted his head, “Babi Jaan” he whispered.  The words that gave him away.  The words that had knocked the wind out of her lungs and caused her to pick up a vase and knock him out.

Her control was gone.  Her face blanched.

He had known her long before she knew him.

He spent most of his time in the school cleaning up the messes made by kids like Asher.  And when Asher flew into one of his fits and nothing could calm him down, not even counting minutes or cards or toy cars, the teachers would call his sister.  All she had to do was take Asher’s hand.  That was the only time Asher would stop counting, to call her “Babi Jaan.”

And he would watch that small sad smile spread across her face, burdened by the knowledge that Asher would never be the brother she wanted or needed.  A burden that kept her from being like the other children.  A burden that would follow her for the rest of her life.  He knew what a burden like that felt like. Being different.

“How did you do it?” her voice sounded hard but she looked small now.

“You were late.”

Asher always waited for her outside to pick him up after school.  15 minutes.  Asher always counted.  And that day, she was late. Asher panicked, heaving and sobbing, tearing his hair until the teacher waiting with him ran inside to find her.  He watched this all.  He knew where she was.   The poison had started to creep in.  Heat crept up in his head.  He knew he wouldn’t be seen.

“I’ll take you to Babi Jaan.”

That first night, in the little shed his father built in the woods, he thought about taking Asher back.  Back to his Babi Jaan.  But the hot feeling in his head grew.  By day three, it was done.

She never came back to that school.  He stayed on for another year.  Then moved on to shopping malls and movie theaters.  Big places to hide in plain sight.

“Why?”

He had waited for this.  “Hadn’t you ever thought about what your life would be like without him?”

She recoiled .

“Didn’t you want to just be a child?”

She stared at him. He knew that look.  It wouldn’t be long now.

“Isn’t that why you were late?”

The knife was in her hands.

“That’s why you went to the store instead of picking him up.”

It sliced through smoothly.  He was surprised with the ease in which the blade slid between his ribs.  She seemed surprised as well, she pulled back quickly, gasping.  Her eyes were wide and wild.

His body had started shaking. He took great steadying breaths. He wanted to be present for this.  To feel the release in the pain.  He had waited a long time for this.  Delayed gratification.

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