His smile widens. “Or should I even call you Louisa?” He says, confirming my suspicions. The glimmer in his eyes has transformed into one of malicious amusement.
Darkness lurks beneath the bright, lively scenery beyond the windshield. It swallows the car, me, and the last fragment of hope I’d clung to.
Pushing past the lump in my throat I croak in my best impression of her, “What do you–” before breaking off into a coughing fit. Her body is prone to adverse reactions to any kind of stress.
“Don’t play dumb with me. I’ve heard of your services.” Venom laces his words. His voice is lower and thicker than before. Each word seems like a struggle, as though he is trying to keep himself calm.
My mind whirs frantically but can’t conjure any viable explanations. There is something hidden deep beneath his voice, something weak and emotional that seems to be trying to break out. His struggle is evident in the thick creases of his eyebrows cutting his forehead into strips.
The car slows to a stop as gravel crunches beneath it. I look through the windshield to discover that we have arrived at the house. The cream-colored walls are exactly the same as they’d been only two days ago.
I search the windows for a sign of life but all is still and silent, both upstairs and down. The house must be deserted this time, dashing the last of my hopes.
The solitude closes in on me as he steps out of the car and slams the door shut behind him. He walks over to my side and wrenches me from my seat, holding my hands behind my back as he pushes me towards the porch.
My head snaps upward to look at the blue sky. Usually this is a sight I revel at as it is one I rarely saw in my own life but today is different. Today the blue sky reminds me of my endless solitude, trapped here with nobody to help me.
Once again God has abandoned me.
Her feet stumble clumsily over the gravel as he pushes us forward with a hard shove. The stiffness of his fingers tells me he’s trying hand to contain his anger.
Her dry, chapped lips open to scream but I bite it back, tearing up at the pain in her broken ankle. I refuse to let out a sound, fearful of how he would react.
The sounds of birds chirping disappears as he slams the front doors shut behind us. The freedom of the outside world is lost in this cage, trapped behind thick plaster walls.
The air is dusty and humid, even harder to breathe than before. She breaks into another coughing fit though I can’t tell whether this one is caused by stress or allergies. She doubles over and loses her balance, falling to the hardwood floors with a resounding thud.
The impact gives me a headache that matches tempo to the beat of her heart. The vibrations beneath the floor tell me it’s hollow.
If I was in my previous body, a bodybuilder who died of a steroid overdose one month after his 37th birthday, I’m sure I could easily break through the creaky boards. Oh how I long for his strength; he surely wouldn’t even have been fazed by the ankle injury.
My fists clench but I know how they are useless. There’s no power in them.
He walks in behind me, his shadow cast over mine on the ground. I force myself to turn around and face the real thing, cowering slightly beneath his tall, overpowering frame. Light spills out from behind him, casting his face in the same shadows that haunted her dreams that first night.
“But you’re not going to come back next time, Lou-i-sa.” Agony. There was agony beneath his voice. She felt it as strongly as I did. A sympathetic twinge afflicted her hammering heart.
I could hardly comprehend her desire to understand and comfort the monster that wants nothing more than to kill her.
As if equally disgusted by her naivety, he walked around us, took me by the hair and pulled me to my feet. My instincts reacted before I could counter them and attempted to support all her weight on her bad yet dominant ankle.
She screamed. The sound echoed in the small space.
He threw her back down. He was on top of her before her body could settle on the ground, legs straddling her hips, hands around her throat. “Did you really think screaming would help you?” His voice slithered from his lips, as cold and smooth as ice. “If someone comes I’ll kill you, right here and now.” His hands tightened a moment as if to emphasize his point then released.
The air that poured into her lungs was sweet despite the dust.
He used her arm to pull me to my feet this time. I hardly noticed.
My mind had wandered elsewhere. His words repeated over and over again.