"I'm going to go get cigarettes" the cliché line that nowadays symbolizes abandonment. I said that line over and over again after bickering endlessly with her about the most idiotic topics but I never left. Stayed out for hours at a time, sure; screamed during each dispute that this time I would never come back, but I always returned. Ever the loyal.

When I was a child, I promised myself never to run out on my family like my own father did to me. His line wasn't that he was going to get cigarettes; he bluntly stated he was leaving and he did. My mother and I never heard of him again.

My son, six years old, has always told me he wants to be just like his daddy. It simultaneously filled me with joy and heartbreak. I wasn't someone important like a policeman, firefighter, doctor, typical kid aspirations; I was merely an office worker that constantly argued with his wife. Yet for some reason, he looked up to me.

"I'm going to go get cigarettes," he heard me this time. He was awake; probably awoke from the echoes of our heated disagreement that night. I didn't notice until I had already reached the door. I couldn't face him then; I was much too angry and felt like a deep disappointment. In my head, I vowed to him I'd go and come back as quickly as possible.

I never made it home.

Perhaps right now, my wife has decided I'll never come back; it's been four days, a record that surpassed my previous score of half a day. Of course, she doesn't know the real reason she'll never see me again.

If I could go back and change one thing from my past, it would most certainly be the threats of fleeing the wretched life I lead, leaving my wife and son behind. But I can't and the only thing for me to do is to wait.

I wonder how she feels. I wonder what she told my little Ed. I wonder what's going to happen.

We weren't always like that, arguing for no reason but to argue. I'd like to think that we had been happily in love at some point. I had known Melissa for a year before asking her to be my girlfriend, we had dated for two years before I asked for her hand, and a year after we had little Eduardo, named after her father; I devoted myself to her for nearly a decade. When she had asked about marriage, I was weary, after all, fifty percent of marriages don't work out, but she insisted and I gave in. Everything changed after that. Why does it seem like marriages ruin perfectly good relationships? Maybe we would have been happier without that stupid certificate. Maybe if we had moved in together beforehand, learned about our quirks and habits, maybe we could have worked on them before starting a family instead of putting those issues on the backburner. It's rather foolish of me to think of 'what ifs' when I know I won't make it back to mend my mistakes or our problems.

"Once upon a time" happy stories start like that. I thought ours did too.

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a girl. Or was I lusting? She was beautiful; light brown curls cupping her face ending just before her chin, large gray eyes that slanted upwards just enough to recognize her Asian heritage, full rounded lips that were naturally tinted a sheer purple hue, and a body that was lacking in the chest area but compensated with a firm, round rear end. We became friends before starting an intimate relationship and in that time I acknowledged her as my best friend. Were we really, though? Usually best-friend-turned-significant-other relationships are supposed to last a lifetime. Maybe we had to have known each other longer than a year for it to count. Well, we got married and had a child and the rest as they say is history and we lived happily ever after.

Once upon a time, I believed our story would make anyone who asked about us blush and coo at how perfect we were for each other. "I married my best friend," I would have said. "You two were made for each other," they would have replied. We weren't.

Plato once wrote about love. They discussed it at a gathering, each attendee inputting their personal opinion on the subject. One said that we were originally created with a total of eight limbs and two faces, but Zeus (as this was an apparent Greek myth) feared our beings' power and split us up into two humans that were destined to roam the earth searching for each others' halves. That's where the term soul mate originated, I think.

Was she mine?

Four days ago, if someone has asked me that I would have said 'I don't know'. I still don't but my answer would lean towards no, if asked again. Soul mates don't treat each other like we did. Soul mates love each other unconditionally and treat each other with respect, compassion, affection, and thoughtfulness. We were just two lonely people afraid of never finding the 'right' person and were so riddled with this unseen, unspoken fear it clouded perceptions of one another; it forced us to love each other.

Four days ago, we argued. Four days ago, I left to buy cigarettes. Four days ago, I would have returned.

I've lost so much in four days and I'm still losing. My wife, my son, my skin, my blood, my life.

There's been a cruel presence lingering over my head since then. It's still here, concealed in the corner and I won't last. Not for long.

If I had a word to describe him at first glance, I'd say a charmer. You know, those confident, good-looking, playboy types that flatter you incessantly until you can't help but love him. A predator talking up his pray and you've fallen into his trap. You're now his and anything he wants he'll persuade you to give it to him. He's a charmer all right. A sadistic, psychopathic, Casanova and I got caught in his web.

"I usually get rid of them after I got what I wanted, but something about you is so alluring, I can't let you leave... not yet," he had said. Who's them and why won't he let me leave?

That day, at the gas station, he asked for my help, "my truck gave in and I'm stranded 60 miles away from home" he had disclosed to me. He didn't understand anything about the functions of a vehicle; he was born into money and had no need to learn unnecessary tasks.

"You look like a hardworking man who would understand the basics of mechanics, can you spare me some help?" He was a sweet talker, subtly flirted without coming across as a homosexual. He kept boosting my ego with his comments all the while I was fixing his car troubles. Flattery can take you to far places; his flew me across the world. Not because I'm a closeted gay, but because after all the fighting that had ensued earlier, I truly needed some type of assurance, understanding, or agreement that I wasn't at fault. It was easy telling him my troubles, and he sympathized as best he could.

He knocked me out after I fixed his ride, a blow to the back of my head; I didn't know how long I was out for, but when I woke up I was tied up, lying on a cold, hard ground somewhere unbeknownst to me.

If I hadn't pegged him as gay before, I had now; not the way I wanted to find out either. "You're my canvas and soon you'll become my masterpiece," he had whispered in my ear whilst he was on top of me, violating me. He painted me with small, circular burns, carved patterns all over my skin, used my blood and tears escaping from my battered body and smeared them all over to convey his message.

Half a week gone, wasted in pain and disgust and fear. He's using me as his toy and I realize who 'they' are: his previous victims.

He's seated in the corner masked in obscurity, watching me, waiting for my reaction from his previous violent, lewd acts. Foreign objects, burns, scrapes, sliced flesh, tender skin, blood, sweat and tears.

"How many and where are they?" how do I still have my voice?

His contended face contours into one of pure malice and haughtiness, exaggerated further by the dim light and shadows, "wouldn't you like to know."

I do, I desperately want to know. Maybe I can gather them up, report him, have the law convict this sicko and stick him in a penitentiary where he won't be able to get out.

"You know, I hardly ever take men, they're much too difficult to deal with; I'm not saying you're weak or anything, you're far from that in fact, but I saw you there smoking your cigarettes looking angry and sad all at once and I knew I had to have you. Your lean, toned build, the tighter than average jeans, the way your hair flowed with the air... mmmm..." he shivers and stands up walking towards me. I'm in too much pain to draw back. He's kneels in front of me and I can't move.

"Please... Please..." I beg, silent tears streaming down sideways, but he's not having it.

"That's what they all had said.'Please let me go, I won't go to authorities'," he mocks their imploring pleas with a falsetto and a pleading face. "One of them actually had the audacity to say she'd stay with me, as a partner, if I stopped torturing her. Can you believe that?" he snorts and rolls his eyes before they land on mine.

"She was a disappointment... You aren't, though. You've been a great feat, might even say perfect. You should feel honored that I haven't thrown you away yet, y'know..." he waits for me to gratefully accept his alleged blessing. Why should I please him?

"Ah, I see. Well all good things must come to an end, I suppose... So you really want to know where they are?" it's a rhetorical question, but he still waits for an answer and I don't give him one. He raises his eyebrows, a small twitch, that indicates he's waiting for my confirmation. I stay silent.

The time stretched on for what felt like minutes, eyes locked daring each other to make the first move until he finally speaks. "Well, if you didn't want to know, dear, then why'd you ask?" His voice is condescending, the emphasis on the pet name making me mentally gag. "I guess I'll show you where I took them. You'll be joining them soon anyhow."

He takes out a knife and reality rushes towards me like a herd of zebras running away from a predator. Of course! He hadn't let them go, how stupid would that have been?

"Stand up, I don't have all day," he orders. I don't know how I manage, with my hands tied behind my back, but I stand up with remarkable agility at a breakneck speed, considering the circumstances. Is there hope for me?

"Walk," without hesitation I follow his command and he forthwith presses a cold, circular object against my back, leading me to his destination.

It's night time; the sky is full of stars, the waning moon barely gives off a light, the cool spring air weaves with the scent of today's obvious rainy day, the lingering moisture clings to my bare feet. I would never have appreciated the moment any other day, but of course, any other day, I wouldn't be in this situation.

He tells me to stop in front of two trees that are set wide apart and indicates the space ahead with his free arm, as if saying 'they're they are'. The expanse is still considerably roomy. Is it his backyard? I can't be sure but it's extensive and I'm afraid of how many of them are lying there.

"Are you happy now?"

"No." How can I be?

"Does it make you feel better to know?"


"Do you still want to know how many?"

"...No." It doesn't make a difference.

"With you, it'll be seventeen," he whispers close to my ears, the sensation of his breath making me shudder. "Anyways, no point delaying your future any further. You were impeccable, just so you know, my dear. At least someone appreciated you once in your life, don't you think? But all good things must end," he repeats.

I'm sobbing silently. You know the saying that life flashes before your eyes when you're compromised in a life-threatening situation? It's a lie; my mind is blank and I can only think about my impending doom. He kisses my neck for the last time and mutters his final phrase, "I suppose this is goodbye, Joseph. See you in the next life."

I'll see you in hell, asshole.


The end. Hahaha. R&R?