warmth

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


whatever warmth we find we hold 'cause the world around's so cold.



will love melt a frozen heart, or make it crack under pressure?

Submitted: March 09, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 09, 2018

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A A A


Whatever warmth we find we hold ‘cause the world around’s so cold.

 

A winter day in the middle of June. The wind as strong as ever… as cold as ever. It was that day when it all started. Because when those things fell from the sky, the fallout was greater than what anyone could have anticipated. That even when peace was made, the world never was able to return to normalcy. For me, however, not much had changed.

 

Still the same ole me with the same ole routine: eat, drink, play, then sleep… all in the comfort of my own room. Alone. And work too, but that also took place online. Working online. Friends I've never met. Friends I never will, and I was okay with that… until I met her. That winter day, I met her.

 

It was around five by the time I realized my stock of frozen dinners and instant noodles were running low. Frickin’ Rcon. Why do they never deliver on time? Ever since that dreadful day, and the transport systems have yet to recover. Ugh. Well, no point in complaining about it now as I still needed to restock. And so, for the first time in two months, I was forced by my circumstances to face the outdoors.

 

“Hey. HEY!”

 

After I bought the food items I sought and as I was walking out through the front door, I was stopped by a young woman in her early 20s. She reached out her hand.

 

“You forgot this.”

 

She handed me three items - a dollar bill and two pennies - my change. How careless was I to leave such an amount behind? I berated myself in my mind. Regardless, she was still right there - standing - and waiting to be thanked. And I wanted thank her. I did! But my voice betrayed me.

 

“Th-th-than--" I tried to mutter, but the words simply would not come out.

 

My two years of little to no face-to-face interactions. I seemed to have lost the ability to talk. I couldn’t. Yet, it was fine. She made it fine.

 

“No problem” were her next two words, interrupting my stutters.

 

And then, she left, and I was left dumbfounded at the entrance to the store… at least, dumbfounded until he came, shouting at me to move out of the way. And so, I, not wanting to cause trouble, did. I moved out of the way and came home.

 

Three days ago, yet still on my mind. Her. Her wavy, auburn hair and that bubbly, animated voice. Her plain face and the way in which it lights up when she smiles. All retained as simple memories, and a simple desire to make them real.

 

Can’t work. Can’t sleep. Can’t play. Can’t eat. She plagues my entire mind - the entirety of my thoughts. I need to see her. I need to see her again.

 

So began my stakeout of the local mini-mart. Waiting and waiting. Waiting in the cold. Waiting for her to come, and - Thank God! -within a week, she did.

 

She went inside the store.

 

Looking right, then looking left. Nobody was paying attention, so I stealthily crossed the street to her car. Good. Looks like no one noticed.

 

My phone was in my hand. I put it on the car. That’s never going to stay, so I got the duct tape out. Looking at the store. She was still shopping. Okay. Six inches should do the trick. I cut the tape using my swiss army knife. Looking back at the store. Crap! She was almost done. At the registar, checking out. Apply the tape. Now, turn around. Run. I ran until I reached my destination - home - with a smile upon my visage for having completed my mission.

 

It didn’t take long for the software to locate my phone.

 

Santora Hills, huh? A quiet neighborhood. Once bright and sunny, but now laden with snow - quite unfitting of the charismatic girl with her girly charms.

 

The house was as plain as ever with a red, snow-filled roof and tan-ish walls. A suburban house through and through. I made my way through the two cars parked in the driveway, retrieving my phone in between.

 

Raised my fist up to knock, but then didn’t. What if she doesn’t recognize me? What will I do? I thought some more. Will I be able to speak properly? Properly portray my feelings? All these fears built up inside me. The ‘what if’s and ‘what then’s. All these questions. All without answers. The who, what, when, where, and why. But then, suddenly, they all stopped.

 

I’ve been hesitating all this time. Ever since those bombs raised hell upon this world, I’ve been afraid of what the world had become - afraid of what the world had to offer. Afraid to step outside in fear of the cold… but without her, I’ll never be warm. I’ll never be satisfied and never find happiness. It’s now or never! With that declaration, I firmly raised my arm - Push Forward! - and tapped twice in quick succession.

 

The door opened.

 

……!

 

A young man, handsome and sturdy, appeared in the door frame - a look of confusion upon his well-defined face.

 

“Hello. Uhm. Do you need something?” he asked.

 

Who was this? I had no words. I was speechless. Too dazed to speak. Too dazed to respond. A brother? A cousin? An acquaintance? A friend? I was confused as well. Who was this? What was he doing here? It was at that moment when she decided to appear.

 

“Who’s that, babe?” she asked.

 

“I don’t know, honey,” he responded.

 

Babe? Honey? What were these baffling terms? What could they possibly mean? My brain kept on reaching the same conclusion I refused to accept. No! That can’t be right! They can’t be lovers, right?

 

“Woah. Hey. You okay, bro? You looking a bit pale there.”

 

I ignored him. The cold was now irrelevant - a feverish feeling taking its place in my head. Dizzy. And un-fine. Forgotten by her. And with a fake smile and flimsy excuse, I ran. Ran faster than I ever had before. To run home and away from this forlorn feeling.

 

But one can’t simply run away from a feeling.

 

And I was back the next day, waiting for her to leave. Waiting. And always waiting. But I wasn't going to wait much longer.

 

From the distance, I saw her. Gracefully waving goodbye, calmly opening the car door with a soft hand, and getting inside. She drove off.

 

Now’s my chance thought I as I boldly crossed the street with confident strides. I was ready - to confront that man and get my woman. No hesitation this time. I will do this!

 

“She will be mine!” I declared into the sky. “She will be mine alright.”

 

Knock. Knock. Instead of those timid taps. I waited for him to answer the door.

 

One second, two, then three. And finally, the door creaked open, slowly and without much noise.

 

“Hel-- you again? You need something, bro? You seemed a bit out of it yesterday.”

 

I wasn't going to stay quiet this time. Not for this. Not when our happiness is in jeopardy. No. I put my foot down between the door and its frame. You will hear what I have to say and you will adhere to my conditions.

 

“I-I need your wife,” I declared.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

The man seemed bewildered. Perhaps he didn't hear me correctly.

 

“I said, I need your wife. Or girlfriend, or lover, or whatever, but I need her.”

 

Following my statement, a quick pause ensued, but soon, he was the one to break the silence.

 

“You mean Josephine? Yeah, she’s not my wife or anything like that yet, but what do you need her for?”

 

He genuinely looked confused, so I tried to break it down as clearly as possible.

 

“I. Want. Josephine. ‘Cause. I. Love. Her. Capiche?”

 

The man stared blankly at me for two seconds, then pushed me out through the door.

 

“I think you need to leave, bro.”

 

My foot was loosened, and there was nothing holding open the door. Once it closes, it would all be over. I shall not let this conversation end here. Not until our stances are set straight.

 

“Wait!” shouted I as I reached for the door.

 

Slam.

 

My hand crushed. Fingers swollen. Pain. But I stopped it. I had stopped the door from closing. So that’s how you want to play, huh? Resorting to violence. From the slightest of pressure. I was right. Josephine is too good for you.

 

He frantically tried to tell me something, but I wouldn’t let him, tackling him in the process. Punching him with my good hand. One, and a two, and a three. Ugh!

 

With a struggle, our positions shifted. Now he was on top. Grabbing my shoulders. Shouting at me to calm down.

 

Calm down? What do you mean calm down? You were the one who started this!

 

In my pocket, I felt my good ole, trusty swiss army knife. I flipped it open. Feeling the cold blade and making sure it was pointing in the right direction. Take this! This I thought as I thrusted forward.

 

Eyes wide in shock. Mouth quivering. And with a gentle push, he fell over. How lucky was I to strike the heart in between the ribs?

 

“Ha. Ha-ha. HAHAHA.”

 

I laughed at nobody in particular. Mostly ‘cause I was the only body still left alive.

 

Looking down into my hands. My bloody, brooding hands - too sullied to touch someone as splendid as she. She. Josephine. She’s going to be here soon! I didn’t know when, but I knew it would be soon. I wasted no time in cleaning up.

 

“Honey, I'm home!”

 

Her lively, animated, sitcom-style voice sounded through the common, four-inch thick walls. This time, I became the one taking the initiative and opened the door.

 

“Welcome home,” I said as sweetly as possible.

 

She didn’t smile back. Where was that sweet smile of hers? That smile I yearn for? That smile I need? A look of uncertainty in that smile’s stead.

 

“You again? Where’s Rob?”

 

She looked worried. Eyebrows furrowing into the shape of a stretched out ‘U.’ So I tried to reassure her as best I could.

 

“Rob? Oh! Him! You won’t have to worry about him any more.”

 

And then - for the first time in my life - I declared with bursting confidence, “‘Cause you have me!”

 

“Wha-what do you mean?”

 

I drew closer. It was my time to shine.

 

“What I mean is: you have me and I have you.”

 

Then, after a single moment, I finally revealed, “I love you.”

 

She started to back away.

 

“Sta-stay back!”

 

I approached her once more.

 

“Why? I just said I love you. Don’t you have a response?”

 

“Get away!”

 

I seized her by the throat.

 

Why? Why won’t you love me? I love you! I love you so so much! Oof!

 

An incredible pain shooting up my spine. Originating from my crotch area. Pain, but irrelevant compared to the astounding agony I felt in the heart. Why? Why are you doing this? Why are you making this so difficult? I gave chase.

 

Running down the road. Me right behind. I will get you! You will be mine! She was so close. And so was I. I thought of our potential future together. Dating. Marriage. And children. A happy future as a happy family. But then, out of nowhere, a giant truck. Rcon. A delivery truck. And a delivery man hit her.

 

The sound a sudden crash. Her silky smooth smile scattered along the street - that and her brain. Her body was fine minus a couple hundred broken bones, but that was the only thing about her still intact.

 

Then, the delivery man turned. Looked upon my face for a split second before I turned as well. I can’t let him see me. I fled the scene.

 

Three miles down and a bus ride home - an easy escape. He didn’t see my face. I was sure of it. I would be safe. I would get away. The police is inefficient these days anyways.

 

The wind blew and the cold came. Brrr! It’s cold. Probably the coldest I’ve ever been. I put my hands inside my pockets to warm up.

 

……!  Hmm. What’s this?

 

I took it out.

 

In my hand were a dollar and two pennies - my change.

 

My legs felt weak so I decided to take a break. Lying in the snow. And looking up at the grayed-out sky.

 

Then again, I never did give her my two cents, did I? We talked and talked, but that was all inside my mind. We never did have a formal conversation. Never really did talk once. No wonder she didn’t accept me.

 

World War III. The nukes. And now, the tragic death of a couple living in Santora Hills. I was so afraid of the world around that I had forgotten I existed in it as well.

 

And I lay there thinking: Would things have gone differently if I wasn’t such a coward? If I hadn’t kept on running? If I had just confessed to her directly, would she have accepted me then? Probably not, but a man can dream, can’t he? What if there had been less people like me and more like her with her smile? What would the world be like? Would these conflicts persist? These destructive choices we choose to make. It’s people like me who prevent us from finding out.

 

All these questions filling up my head. Still no answers to be found. To the ‘what if’s and ‘what then’s. What do I want to know? I thought and thought. And thought some more. My head getting colder. My body numbed. But I kept on thinking. Thinking and thinking until I could no longer. Then, I stopped thinking as I escaped this wretched place - and these unanswered questions went away without a trace.


© Copyright 2020 William Jeon. All rights reserved.

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