The Way So Dark

 by Nancy



She released the deadbolt …
Swung the door wide for Vincent …  
Led him to the dining room … 

To their left, a jagged frame for the damp night’s invading chill.
Her escape and her access, what had been a sparkling wall of glass was now 
shattered fragments and slivers, frosting the carpet and the grounds beyond.

“Lay him here.”

He straightened from the floor and faced her across Stephen’s body. 

Fury … empathy … what almost happened … what did … her bloodied shoulder, 
injuries he could feel in her but not see, the vicious markings at her neck …  

She would not touch the pain …
“I had to … jump … some scratches … I’m okay … Isaac taught me how to do it …” 

“Your throat, Catherine … Isaac couldn’t teach you how to survive that.”

“You … were there.”

Time … stopped … raced … defined by the body lying at their feet.

Catherine took Vincent’s hands and drew him toward the front of the house.

“I have to get help for … him. Go home now.  Don’t argue. I’ll come Below as soon as I can.”

“Catherine, I can’t leave you here alone … what if he … what will you tell the police …

“Don’t worry.  I’ve got an idea … I think I know what I can tell them … what they …
will believe.”

“How bad …?”

“He’s not bleeding.  Probably more shock than anything.  Please, please leave so I can do … 
what I must.  I’ll be safe.  I’m going to be upstairs.  Vincent, just go.”

Leaving her was unthinkable.
Hidden.  In the shadows   At a distance.
“I’ll wait for you …”

“They’ll want me to go to the hospital … don’t worry.  I’ll be fine.”

“Then I’ll be on your balcony …”

“Vincent, it might be late … tomorrow morning … midday … later.  Please, go home.  
I’ll meet you at the threshold as soon as I get back to the city.”

“The balcony … if it’s night … ”

“Yes.  Okay.”

She tugged open the door and half-pushed, half-talked him out to the landing with promises 
she’d be careful. 

He stared at her a long moment …   

She heard, or her heart heard, “I love you, Catherine.”

Then he was off … sprinting across the misted grass … entering the dark woods.
Disappearing.

Taking up his watch.

She bolted the door.  

Stephen showed no sign of regaining consciousness … the evidence of Vincent’s rage drying, scabbing over, skin and fabric … a peculiar bandage.
  
Obsessed.
Insane.
He’d erased the hard memories …

She took the stairs two at a time. 
Her plan, tested for quirks and quality, seemed adequate. 

Tucked away on a small shelf near the elegant whirlpool tub sat the remembered telephone.  
She checked for a dial-tone.  The master bedroom yielded two more … one on a side table, 
another on a lady’s desk near the window-seat.  She yanked out cords and tossed both aside.

The negligee … the one Stephen had expected her to model … a silken heap on the floor …  
She scooped it up … carried it into the bathroom … dropped it on the cold marble tile.
The door shut … the lock in place.

She lifted the receiver and dialed the operator.

~

Her neck … marred … purpled …
Bandages thick beneath the clean shirt … where doctors had removed glass 
fragments from her shoulder … perhaps stitched the deeper cuts …
Bruises … that would heal … that should not be …

She’d showered and dressed and dried her hair. 
She was ready to tell him.

And it didn’t matter. 
Not what she’d said to protect him from the police …
Only that she was safe. 

Safe.

“ … must have gotten scared when I passed out … ”

He remembered …Catherine crushed beneath the monster …

“… said we were going back to the house …”

 … dragging Stephen off her …

“ … I prayed for a phone in there …”

… slamming him against the tree trunk … until she’d begged him to stop …

“… screamed he was going downstairs … to find something to pry open the door …”

And he’d known her voice. Her plea. For him. Not for Stephen. For him.

“… never came back … don’t know what … stayed in there … until … police …”

~

When there was nothing more to tell … into the silence … she whispered a caress …
“Don’t be ashamed, Vincent. You only did what you had to do.” 

Absolution offered.
She would protect him.  In all things.

“I know that.” 

His … to lighten the burden … his … the burden ...

But one she would claim and carry for him. 

“I should have trusted you.”

“Catherine, I knew … because somewhere deep inside yourself … you must have known.”

She turned from him.
It was a lesson for another day.
Perhaps when the hurts had healed a little …

For now … forever … he was her sanctuary …
She … his defender.

Love protects the Beloved.

3 comments:

Anonymous June 14, 2010 at 4:43 AM  

Hi Nancy,

I enjoyed your writing. Are you the lady who writes the beautiful poetry on Tunnel Tales? If you are - wow! Beautiful, just beautiful. You have a great gift...

In this story I liked Catherine's plan to explain her injuries. I thought it was sweet that Vincent wanted to see her again soon.

I loved the ending too.

Thank you,

Jodie xxoo

Three Writers June 14, 2010 at 9:10 AM  

Jodie, thank you so much for your kind thoughts. I can't take credit for the 'beautiful poetry' on Tunnel Tales unless my name shows beneath the title :) but should you find any of those pieces 'beautiful' I do thank you once again! Nancy

Michelle K. July 17, 2010 at 8:09 PM  

Nancy, how lovely that you joined the clan for this exercise! I loved your telling ... the shared pain between them, the way she heard, or at least her heart heard, that Vincent said "I love you." Since we, the fans, didn't get to hear that for a long, long time, it's wonderful to believe he said it to her - in some way. Lovely job. Truly!

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