Written by Shannon Dennis
Text Copyright Shannon Dennis, 2017
All Rights Reserved
Book Cover Design Copyright Shannon Dennis, 2017
Author Photo by Shannon Dennis
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Shannon Dennis.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Behind Closed Doors
About the Author
The single word yes pulsed at the tip of my tongue the moment I realized that Adam was about to pop the question. We had discussed the possibility before not too long ago. Both of us had given some thought to moving somewhere new together, away from both our families where we could start something for ourselves. Besides, it was inevitable after almost four years of dating that we would start moving forward at some given point.
For some time now, I knew that Adam was the one. He was my person. There was no doubt about that in my mind. But in that moment, when it was just the two of us, alone in our apartment, the ring glistening between his fingers as his hazel eyes equally shone with a curious twinkle, I couldn’t get that single word yes to leave my hesitant lips.
Because in that moment, I couldn’t help but realize that it wasn’t just about saying yes anymore. This answer would change everything. The thought of moving, leaving the town I’ve called home for my twenty-three years of life, seemed so much bigger all of a sudden than it had before. It wasn’t a simple yes or no answer anymore. While these thoughts dragged me further and further into my own head, Adam’s concerning look carried me back.
“Mimi,” Adam rose slowly from his knee and brought his face level with mine, “what’s going on in that head of yours?” His crooked smile with that slightly sarcastic tone of his would’ve fooled anyone into thinking that he was perfectly fine. But along with the furrowing brow, under that tone I could hear the growing worry that he didn’t make the right move. I tried to ease his worry with a small smile, raising my hand to graze the unshaved stubble on his cheek.
“Everything’s fine, I promise.” The crease between his brows softened the smallest bit at the reassurance. “I just,” I stated hesitantly, “I need to think about things first.”
It took some convincing to assure him I was perfectly okay and that I wasn’t upset with him about anything. I just needed a few hours to mull it over at the one place I thought about things best, home.
The exterior hadn’t changed since I could first remember it. Granted, the brick had faded and chipped a bit over the years, but it was still the same home it had always been. It’s always been the place I came back to when I needed to think, or be with my parents, or just get away from everything else. How could I go somewhere that wouldn’t be a five-minute drive away from this place? Leaning against the car door, I watched as the snow continued to cover the frosty rooftop.
With the squeak of the front door, I looked down from the sky to see my mother standing on the porch steps. Her arms crossed over her body, keeping warm, she gradually made her way down the ice-covered steps and towards me. The warmth of her usual smile and blushed cheeks instantly relaxed my thoughts.
“Hey baby,” she said as she stopped just in front of me, “what are you doing here? Why don’t you come inside where it’s warm?” She began to turn back towards the house when my words stopped her midstride.
“Adam proposed.” It was as simple as that.
Her brow raised as she turned back to me, the smile on her face only growing. “And?” She asked curiously.
I let out a large breath I didn’t realize I was holding as I let it out, “And I paused! How am I supposed to say yes and leave all this?” I gestured towards her and the house.
My mother gave me the smallest smirk before simply responding, “Honey, your Dad and I, this house, aren’t going anywhere. No matter where the two of you go, we will always be here waiting for you when you need us.” With a small kiss on the forehead, my mother turned back and closed the door behind her when she reentered the house, leaving me back outside in the cold. But her words were all I need to hear to know my answer.
I only waited half of a ring before Adam picked up his phone. “Mimi?” He asked concerning.
“Yes.” I finally responded.
“Yes.” He repeated to himself. I could hear the smile in both of our voices.
"Quiet, quiet, quiet," I whispered through the darkness. I reached out frantically toward the blackness in front of me, feeling past the hanging clothes in the closet until my fingertips grazed Sam's skin. I felt her jump from my initial touch before I brought her towards my chest.
The moonlight barely shown through the crack of the closet door, dimly illuminating the side of her face. Her lips were quivering as she tried to quiet down her sobs. Her cheeks gleamed with the wetness from her tears. My fingers wisped across them and over her cheek, trying to calm her.
I stopped her from continuing as I brought a single finger to my lip. He was coming. We both knew it. No one breaks into a house while you're home with the intention of leaving you be. He saw us run up those stairs. And it was only a matter of time before he sought out our hiding spot. Three bedrooms, one bathroom total up here; so it'd be sooner rather than later.
The heavy thud of his boots came from down the hall, pausing every few seconds. Sam's breath seemed to even as her gaze went distant, trying with difficulty to listen to his whereabouts. It wasn't until the bedroom door creaked open when Sam cringed back into the corner of the closet and shrunk to the floor.
The floorboards creaked as it gave way under the weight of each step he made further into the room. One step closer and closer to the closet door. Slowly, the small sliver of light through the crack became utter darkness. His frame blocking any light from entering. His footsteps ceased. He was here. I looked down at Sam, watching as she covered both hands over her mouth, trying to muffle her cries. We stayed there, silent, waiting for the inevitable. But it still hadn't come.
Taking a step forward, I peered one eye through the crack of the door to see the man's figure looming right in front of me. His broad shoulders stretched the t-shirt he wore tight over his upper body. He faced away from the closet. It made the gun he had visible tucked in the back of his jeans. His back faced us as his focus was on the dresser in front of him. In his hands, Sam and I's wedding photo from only three months back. My hands grasped the doorknob tightly as he stood there, looking almost amused by our happiness then. But he was distracted. He couldn't have known we were in here.
Slowly, I let my grasp on the doorknob turn. I could feel Sam's eyes on me, but she couldn't speak the words to protest. Opening the door just a sliver, I slid out into the bedroom only feet behind him. I reached out to the end table next to me, my hand wrapping around the neck of the bedside lamp. And in a second, I yanked the lamp from it's socket as I ran forward. Just as he began to turn, I swung my arm at him, clobbering the side of his head with the lamp.
His body slumped to the ground, face first. Dropping the lamp, I scrambled for the gun in the back of his pants, bracing it in both of my hands pointed straight at the back of his head. My hands steadied as they tightened around the grip of it, instinctively. The initial rush passed, my head clearing of all thoughts but one. I breathed deeply, then pulled the trigger.
The echo of the shots rang in my ear as I watched his blood seep into the carpet beneath him, our wedding photo shattered in it's frame lay next to him. My face truly was the last thing he was looking at before he took his last breath. And he never even saw me coming. He'll never get the chance to do to Sam and I what I did to him first.
My fingers began to falter, feeling the gun slip through them and clatter onto the floor. I could feel her eyes on me. Reaching over, I pulled on the duvet atop the bed and dragged it across the man's body, covering the mess I had created. Turning around, she stood in the frame of the closet. But her eyes weren't on me. Her eyes were on the duvet across the floor, no doubt still seeing what lay underneath of it in her eyes. When she spoke, I strained to hear the whisper.
"What did you do?" Her voice came out strained.
"Sam," I took a step toward her, "I saved us. I made sure he couldn't try and hurt us again."
I reached out, brushing my fingertips against her arm. The moment we touched, she jerked back further into the closet again. Her eyes were fearful, dancing around the room as she avoided contact with mine.
"Babe come on, come out of the closet we'll get you downstairs and out of this room." I beckoned her to come back out.
"You murdered him." She said simply.
"I saved us, Sam. Are you insane?"
Her look finally met mine at that question. Her eyes widening in disbelief. "Me, insane? He was unconscious, Jasper. You shot him till his face covered the entire carpet! You think that's gonna look okay with the police? You think that's gonna look just fine when they see your record?"
My record. Fuck. They were coming. The police had to be on their way if not almost here by now. And I lost my temper, just like before. This isn't going to be cleaned up and forgotten about like the last incident. I'm guilty. And they aren't going to let me get away with no consequences again.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
The musty odor of the hotel room burned in my nostrils, even from the outside patio. I kept my eyes on her though. We checked in an hour ago now, and she's done nothing but sit out here ever since. Her body is a statue. Only the short blonde strands of her hair swept across her face by the mild breeze. Her eyes, on the other hand, stay fixed on the ground. Not once did they move to acknowledge my presence only a foot away from her.
"Sarah," I said.
Her upper lip twitched in the slightest way. She didn't break though. Not a single word has escaped those shiny red lips since we entered this motel room.
From the moment I cracked open the door to room number thirteen, the image of those two, separate double beds, made up to the best conditions you'd expect from a lousy motel, has been embedded into my mind. Not even looking at them now, my awareness of them sitting there untouched in the other room made my skin crawl.
"Sarah," I said again. "We can work through this if you'd just talk to me. Just look at me at least. Please, Sarah."
Finally, those soft brown eyes lifted to meet my own. There was nothing but a blank vacancy in them now though. For the past two weeks, it was the only look I received.
"There's nothing to work out, Christopher. This is how it is now," she said. "You wanted me here, so I'm here. But I'm here with my own boundaries set."
"I know I messed up," I said to her. "Believe me you have no idea how much I know I messed everything up. You have every reason to hate me right now. But I wanted to take you away somewhere so that it could just be us for a little while." Reaching over to take her hand, she snapped it back the moment my fingers brushed against her knuckles. I clenched my own fist, I can't remember the last time she let me touch her. "Sarah please, just give me a chance to make things right again. Give me a chance to show you that the only person I ever want in my life is you."
She cried in a haunting silence. The tears that streamed down her face welded up below her chin before blotching themselves on her blouse.
"Tell me, Christopher," she said. "Was she pretty?"
My fist clenched, looking back in the motel room at those beds. They just sit there, mocking me. But there's no where else to look. I'd break if I had to look at more tears run down that face of hers.
"Don't do this," I shake my head. "Don't bring her up again. She doesn't matter to me. She was no one. You're who I care about. You're the only one I care about."
"Don't bring her up?" she asks. "Isn't that what caused all of this?" She gestures between the two of us. "Or did you not sleep with another woman and this was all just a big misunderstanding."
The backs of my eyelids were the only safe things to look at now, so I kept them closed from now on as I spoke.
"Stop, Sarah," I say. "Don't make this harder than it already is."
A small chuckle escapes her lips. "Oh I'm making it harder for you now?" She asks me. "Well let me make it easy. I'll be at the bar across the street getting myself a proper drink. Feel free to stay in here for the rest of the night. I'll even let you pick which bed you'd like." With that, the light shuffle of her feet made their way across the room before the soft creaking of the door opening and shutting behind her to note her departure. Leaving me alone to stare at those two goddamn beds.
About the Author
Shannon Dennis currently resides in her hometown right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of only twenty-one, Shannon is on her way to graduating from Full Sail University with a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment. While being a full-time students or worker, she spends any free moments reading and continuing with her own writing.
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