As I drive home, a weight lifts off my shoulders. I am still just as in control of myself as I was before. Sleep paralysis is not that serious; it is just caused by stress. The only stressful thing in my life right now is Corey. Once he’s dead, my sleep will be dark and dreamless. I will be back to my usual self soon.
Corey will be away until the evening, so I have the entire day to prepare his murder down to the last detail. I haven’t felt so excited about something in a while. I will laugh all I want after his body is discarded and I am far away from this bland old house. Before going through a rehearsal of how I will execute my killing, I go to the kitchen and make a berry and frozen yogurt smoothie to energize my body. I avoid looking out the glass door to the backyard. It isn’t fit to be seen. I can’t believe I even bothered to think of redesigning it. It is a lost cause. I sit at the table and bask in the silence as I drink the nourishing preparation.
I walk about the house imagining Corey walking through the door and how I will act when he arrives. I will lead him outside to look at the stars like we did on our first date. He will fall for the chance to have a nostalgic romantic moment with me. Then I will stick him with the needle and push him into the pool. Once I am out, I’ll never have to look at it or think about it again. I practice how the interaction with Corey will go several times under different scenarios. If he is against going outside, I will seduce him in his bedroom – or I will take him in mine. I am confident that no matter how he reacts to me when he’s home, I will have him wrapped around my little finger in no time. Either way, he will die tonight.
I kill the time by doing a home cardio workout designed by my personal trainer. I repeat the routine for good measure. Then I shower and moisturize myself from head to toe. I slip into one of my other red dresses. The mermaid style one that I murdered Brad in won’t do. A woman who has good taste never wears the same outfit to the same type of event. What a shame Corey will never get to see me in it. His loss.
I do my nails on the hour before I expect my husband to come through the door. I paint them crimson so they match my gown.
When I hear the door open, I walk calmly out of my room holding my silver sparkly purse that has the bottle of ketamine and syringes inside of it. A strange voice fills the air as I make my way to the top of the staircase. I stop and look below at the doorway where Corey and a blond guy are talking in hushed tones. I resist the urge to swear loudly. This is unbelievable.
“Dear, who is that?” I call.
Both turn to face me. My heart nearly stops as I look at the strangely familiar face. He looks almost exactly like Brad, but he is a couple of years younger.
“I’m here to see what happened to my brother,” says the boy indignantly.
“I told him we haven’t seen Brad for a couple of days and we are worried,” says Corey, looking from me back to Brad’s brother.
I slowly descend the staircase feeling the hatred for my husband intensify. How dare he let that kid come so close to our home? He has ruined another perfect murder with his shitty timing. I stifle my rage and plaster a smile on my face.
“Welcome,” I say to Brad’s little brother. “What might your name be?”
“I’m Alex. So, tell me. Where the hell is my brother?”
He looks at me as though I should know.
“Why, I hardly said two words to Brad,” I say calmly. “He seems like a nice boy, but I’m just the housewife. Corey is the one who hired and paid him.”
“Haven’t you tried calling his cell? Or have you asked his friends about him?” asks Corey.
“He won’t answer and no one knows where he is,” says Alex, sounding frustrated.
His eyes dart back to me. They are unnervingly similar to Brad’s. I shake off the strange feeling I get. This kind of stuff isn’t supposed to bother me. Since when do I care about eyes?
“Brad did tell me something about you, Mrs. Robson, the last time we spoke,” says Alex, moving through the doorway.
I cross my arms as I turn my nose up at him. “We did not give you permission to step into our home and I don’t appreciate your tone.”
Alex’s eyes flicker in anger. “He told me that he caught you trying to drown a bunny in your pool.”
I laugh darkly while they both stare at me.
“My wife would never do that,” says Corey, shaking his head. “I’ll do my best to try to track your brother down, but I really need to ask you to leave now.”
Alex does not take his eyes off me. I refuse to look away even though his similarity to Brad is making the weight on my shoulders return. Just when I thought the stress in my life would soon be over.
“I’m on to you, Mrs. Robson,” he says. “If I don’t hear back from my brother in another day, you’ll be sorry.”
I smirk. “Now you’re sounding ridiculous. Go home, little boy. If you threaten me again, I will call the police.”
Corey pushes him outside and closes the door. Locking it, he gives me a sidelong glance.
“Is that true?” he asks.
“I don’t want to know what you’re asking me,” I mutter, walking away from him.
The moment has deflated. I can’t kill the annoying idiot with my mood dropping so low. I feel bile rise in my throat. Why can’t I be allowed to forget about stupid Brad? In any event, his brother has nothing on me. Second-hand information about me trying to drown a small animal isn’t going to be that incriminating. Brad will be eternally missing. No one can prove he is dead if there is no body to be found. Steve took care of that. The whole thing will blow over soon.
I look back at Corey. “It looks like you hired the wrong guy to be our pool boy.”
“I don’t regret hiring Brad. He’s a good kid. Something must have happened to him.”
I roll my eyes. “Good one, Sherlock.”
“I’m going to bed. I can’t deal with your coldness and negativity tonight,” he says.
I watch him walk up the stairs. He sees me as cold and negative. My sweet persona isn’t fooling him anymore. He knows there is something off about me. There goes my opportunity to sleep in peace. I could grab a knife and slit his throat in his sleep, but I would rather do it with a cool head. I’ll have to wait a little longer to finally kill Corey.
Howling sounds in the distance, overpowering the silence. The wolves are close again. I make my way up to the room to retire for the night when a sharp yelp breaks the quiet. It sounds like it came from the street. Feeling a little restless in the wake of my failed murder plan, I venture outside and turn the porch light on. I don’t see anything. I step further and movement from the road catches my attention. I walk to the end of my driveway and see the silhouette of a scrawny dog. Seeing me, it limps toward me. As it comes into the light, its brown eyes look helplessly into mine. He is a discarded dog seeking food and shelter.
“How cruel life can be to the weak,” I say.
I back away slowly, not wanting to turn my back to it in case it becomes aggressive. Its brown eyes widen as I distance myself from it. It whimpers and yelps again. It looks so pathetic that I don’t see why anyone would want to help it. The beast would be better off getting hit by a car.
I spin around and sprint for the house, quickly closing the door behind me. I go up to my room and take another hot shower. Feeling warm and drowsy, I fall into bed and sleep takes me soon after.
The night sends me into a spiral of abstract dreams. Alex walks toward me in a foggy reality with the injured homeless dog at his side. Both of their gazes are dark and sad. I want to run away from the fools, but I am stuck in place, paralyzed. They do nothing except stare at me. As I leave that dream, I am greeted by a blueish face with chocolate-coloured eyes. Brad.
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “You need to leave my mind. I want you to get out!”
He grins wide.
“You’re dead! You are aren’t real.”
He shakes his head. “Cold-hearted bitch.”
“My heart isn’t cold, it’s empty.”
He sneers at me as bright pink lights mar my vision of him. He floats away and I struggle to get out of there. Before I make my way out of the large, blurry room, he grabs me by the wrist and pulls me toward him.
“Get lost, asshole!” I scream.
“Why did you kill me?” he demands.
I try in vain to move away, but his grip on my wrist tightens.
“Tell me,” he presses.
“Because you were in the way.”
There. I said it. He bares his teeth and takes a bite into my neck. I feel flesh and tissue being torn out.
I wake up yelling in the darkness. That bastard. I don’t understand how to get him out of my head. These dreams need to stop. My door starts to slowly open. I sit up, on edge. Corey stands there.
“Bad dream?” he asks.
I nod. “It’s fine. I’ll just make a tea and go back to sleep.”
“Did you do something to Brad?” he asks bluntly.
I shake my head. “How could you think that of me?”
“I don’t know. You never liked him. His brother seemed pretty convinced about the story of you drowning rabbits in the pool. Why would Brad make something like that up?”
There is strange buzzing in my ears as he talks. I feel an odd presence lurking above me; horrible gooseflesh covers my skin as I get up.
“I don’t appreciate your tone,” I say, brushing past him. “Or your accusations.”
“I’m not accusing you. I’m just trying to talk to you about this.”
He should be dead, but there he is interrogating me about stupid Brad. I walk down the stairs, desperate for fresh air, but not wanting to appear like I am. It will make me look insane.
“Marie?” calls Corey.
“Give me a minute!” I call.
The outside air cools my skin as I step out the door and to the porch. The twinkling stars fleck the sky so beautifully. I ask myself why I don’t admire them more often. Our home is half an hour away from the big city, so we get a decent view of the sky. I walk down my driveway, keeping my eyes fixed on the starry firmament above me. It’s not like me to be so affected by nature. I think the doctor was too hasty to dismiss my condition as being caused by stress. There is something wrong with my head. I am not myself.
Soft whimpering interrupts my musing. A shadowy, four-legged figure trots up to me. The injured dog has returned. He is only a few feet away from me. Somehow even he has entered my world. I have never liked animals.
“You pathetic thing,” I say, shaking my head.
He steps closer, looking hopefully into my eyes.
“I’d rather crush you than help you,” I snarl, starting to turn away, but bumping into a solid body.
It is Corey. He is a head taller than me and solidly built. I am very aware of that fact as I look up at him. He looks down at me with a disgusted expression. For the first time since I met him, I wonder if he will hurt me.
“I heard what you said to that dog. You really are a cold bitch, aren’t you?”
They never get it right. I am empty, not cold.
“You want to take this filthy animal into our house, do you?” I ask, looking back at the foul-smelling mutt.
“Why are you like this, Marie?” asks Corey.
When the dog realizes that he has my attention again, the animal walks up to me and noses my hand with his cold, dirty snout. I grit my teeth as the urge to smack him in the head overcomes me. I stop myself from doing it for my own sake. If I fall any further from Corey’s good books, he might start to think I killed Brad.
“We can take him in for the night then I can drive him to the shelter tomorrow morning before I go to the airport,” says Corey, bending down to pet the dog’s head.
“Fine,” I say with a tired sigh. “Let him in the house. See if I care.” I step back to the house. The mongrel rushes past Corey to follow me. I wonder why he likes me so much. I thought dogs could sense bad people. I look over my shoulder at Corey’s perplexed face before walking inside.