THURSDAY: Locked in Battle

BY JOYA WILLIAMS

Two of Joya Williams’ short stories, The Little Boy and Letting Go, appeared in Cynic Online Magazine. Copyright is held by the author.

“KELLY! OPEN THIS DOOR!” came the hoarse cry. His loud banging made her jump. But Kelly was determined to stand her ground. She would not open the door! She would not let him back into her life after all he’d said and done. Was he crazy?! If it was over then so be it. She was not opening that door ever again.

“Leave me alone Craig! Stop making all that noise, you’re giving me a major headache!”

More banging…”Cut it out!” she screamed at the closed door

“Come on Kelly! Why are you doing this? After all we’ve been through?” he pleaded.

She shook her head in awe at his ignorance. “Are you serious? Why am I doing this? What about you Craig? What about all the hurtful things you said? How could you do it?” She tried to keep the pain out of her voice. She didn’t want to sound pathetic. It was a struggle, but she swallowed past the lump in her throat and said, “You say you want out of this relationship. You say you found someone you really love? You pretty much destroy my feelings in one fell swoop and think I should be reasonable?!” Kelly started to feel the anger bubble over. She started to pace around the living room always keeping an eye on the door as if he could magically pick the lock with his finger. She was on edge and ready to pounce. She massaged her temples with the tips of her fingers as if that could ever make the pain go away.

The banging started again. She felt a migraine coming on.

“I’m sorry Kelly. It was wrong of me to do that to you. I’m so sorry! Just open the door so we can talk about it. I’m begging you!”

That was almost her undoing. Almost. She stopped herself five steps from the door and said in a calm, slow voice “I will never open this door to you again Craig Davis. You can rot for all I care! Oh and don’t worry, I’ll send all of your belongings to your little whore…after I’ve shredded every last piece of clothing, cut up every sneaker and smashed every last CD in your precious collection! I’m sure she’ll be very happy to scrape up my leftovers!”

That did it! He hit the door so hard, she jumped back as it vibrated from the impact. She knew she had pushed him far enough…for now.

It was a hollow victory. She felt no joy in baiting him. It didn’t change the way things were or what had already transpired. It actually made her feel sad and pathetic. Why did it have to come to this? They had once been very happy together; meeting at a mutual friend’s engagement party, dating for two years and finally buying this house together. Their future had seemed so bright. Now here they were on opposite sides of a locked door; her hating him and him just wanting to soothe his conscience so he could start a new life without her.

Kelly realized that she hadn’t heard anything for a while. Maybe he’d finally given up. It had been three days of going back and forth between them. He was probably as tired of the whole thing as she was. Again she wondered if she should just give in and open the door. Just let go of the drama, girl, she thought to herself. She barely had time to finish that thought when she heard the phone ring. Surprised that she still hadn’t heard anything from Craig she moved cautiously toward the phone in the living room.

“Hello?”

“Is Craig there?” said the flat female voice on the other end.

Kelly sucked in her breath. Oh hell no! This could not be who she thought it was! She would never…! Would she? But then Kelly realized that this woman helped to destroy her relationship, why should she put anything past her?

“Excuse me?” was all Kelly could think to say.

“Listen Kelly, this is Trina. Craig’s…uh…girlfriend.” At least she had the class to hesitate when she said girlfriend Kelly thought. But she still couldn’t believe her nerve.

“So why the hell are you calling me Trina? Why do you think your man would be here, if you’re his…uh…girlfriend?”

“Because he told me he was coming over there to try and talk some sense into you and see if you would let him get all his stuff. That was three days ago!”

Kelly chuckled although nothing was funny. “Oh really? Well it’s not my fault if you can’t keep track of your man. Maybe he realized what a big mistake he’s making and decided he wants nothing to do with you!”

“Whatever Kelly,” Trina said “You know what? I’m just worried about him that’s all.”

Kelly could hear the concern in the other woman’s voice and felt a little bad about her behaviour, but she refused to give in to compassion, when she blamed her for what her life had become.

“Well, I can’t help you if you can’t keep tabs on a man you’ve had for all of five minutes! Don’t call me again!” with that she hung up.

She was boiling mad now. They both had a lot of nerve. Did they think she was some kind of pushover? How dare they? Running a hand over her braids, she tried to figure out what to do next. Her head felt fuzzy and she imagined she could still hear Craig’s banging against the door. Come to think of it, she could hear something. It sounded like scratching coming from the direction of where Craig would have been. She thought he’d given up, but she should have known better. What was that noise? She moved closer to the door…

“You bastard, you’re trying to pick the lock aren’t you?!”

The banging resumed with renewed force.

“Kelly! Open this damn door! Just let me get my stuff and get out! This is ridiculous! This isn’t you! Just stop this nonsense…PLEASE!”

The words came in a tone of desperation that she hadn’t heard from Craig up to this point and once again she wondered if it had all gone far enough. Maybe she really should just open the door.

Her head felt fuzzy. She needed to sit down and think for a moment. What was happening to her? This wasn’t who she was. Kelly didn’t want to fight. She just wanted all of the anger and pain to go away. If she opened the door and let him get all of his belongings, he would be out of her life for good and she could move on without any painful reminders. In her heart, she knew that by not opening the door, she was holding on to something that was over and that it wasn’t healthy for either one of them. She was so tired. The migraine was in full force now and she started feeling dizzy. She knew that the stress of all this arguing with Craig was only going to make it worse. For the past three days he had been asking her to let him in and she had said no every time. Her doctor had told her on many occasions that she had to take it easy, but she was just so angry. Kelly felt as if she couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t angry these past few months. Ever since Craig had decided that he’d wanted out, she had felt the rage boiling within her and now it seemed like if it didn’t come out, her head would explode. She needed her migraine tablets. She lost her balance on the way to the kitchen and stumbled over the arm of the loveseat.

“Ouch!” she said as she stubbed her toe on the corner of the chair. She felt so out of sorts. She grabbed the pill bottle…EMPTY!

“Shit!” she’d forgotten to pick up the refill. The pain was so intense now, she could barely stand up. The nausea started to kick in and she wondered if she would make it to the bathroom. In her distress, she’d forgotten about Craig for a while; until the banging started again. All that noise made her want to cry from sheer frustration. She couldn’t hold back the strangled sound that escaped her lips, a mix of weeping and screaming that sounded to her like a dying animal. Maybe that’s what she was, something dying inside?

“Kelly? Is that you? Are you okay?” Craig was asking through the closed door. Kelly was mortified to know that he’d heard her. The last thing she needed from him was pity.

“Listen, just open up and we can talk. Maybe we should call your therapist, Dr. Hainey.”

“Shut up Craig!” she tried to drown him out by putting her hands over her ears.

“Maybe he can help you through this. Make you see how crazy this all is.” Craig was trying to reason with her. But he’d said the wrong thing altogether.

“Are you trying to say I’m crazy?! I’M NOT CRAZY OKAY?! Just shut up….I’M NOT CRAZY!” even as she said it she felt as if reality was slowly slipping away from her. Dr. Hainey had warned her that she was border line obsessed with Craig and that she appeared to be experiencing brief moments of disassociation with reality, especially when under emotional duress. He had tried to prescribe medication with a long and intimidating name that she had promptly ignored. Her only interest was getting something to alleviate the pain of her migraines that seemed to be getting worse. What the hell did Dr. Hainey know about her feelings for Craig, anyway? He had obviously never been in love! All the sacrifices she’d made over the years and the tears she’d spent; how was she supposed to forget all of that just because Craig had?  The dizziness threatened to engulf her. The nausea was making her heave. She ran to the bathroom and knelt down in front of the toilet. Too miserable to close the door, she prayed Craig couldn’t hear her from where he stood. The vomiting wasn’t very quiet as she seemed to expunge all of her hurt and resentment along with her lunch. She must have blacked out at some point; she came to with her face pressed against the cold bathroom tile. She felt sore and spent and as she lay there she could see a spider spinning its web behind the toilet where she would never have seen it if she hadn’t been lying on the floor. It was obviously time to clean the bathroom, she thought. Placing the palms of her hands flat on the floor, she used all of her might to push herself up.  With a groan she managed to stand and use the pedestal sink to prop herself up. Kelly turned on the water and splashed her face and then brushed her teeth. The minty taste of the toothpaste almost made her throw up again, so she quickly rinsed her mouth and left the bathroom. She felt weak and confused and somewhere in her jumbled thoughts she tried to remember the last time she’d eaten.

There was a faint ringing coming from somewhere in the house. At first she couldn’t place it. Feeling confused she walked toward the phone, but that wasn’t it. The fuzziness seemed to have spread and she felt as if her brain had been replaced by cotton, she tried to shake it out, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. Stumbling toward the sound, she finally realized that it was the door bell. Why would Craig be ringing the doorbell now?

“Craig?” she called as she reached the door.

Even though she had made her decision, she still hesitated to open the door after all this time. Plus her head was throbbing and the solid oak door felt heavier than it ever had before. Kelly felt as if she had to use her whole body to open it and her energy was immediately drained. It was all Craig’s fault, she thought. She would let him come in and get his stuff and then move on with her life. All this bickering was obviously affecting her health. The two uniformed police officers standing at her door, made her pause. What was going on? Where was Craig?

“Hello officers. Is something wrong?” she tried to look past them wondering if Craig had been put in one of the squad cars. Perhaps one of her neighbours had finally complained to Peel Police and they had come to restore peace.

“Good evening ma’am. We’d like to speak with Kelly Garrickson. Is that you, ma’am?”

“Yes, that’s me. What’s this about?” she tried to appear calm. There was no sign of Craig as far as she could see. Maybe he had been the one to complain about her keeping his personal belongings. Was that what this was about? She felt a bead of sweat slowly making its way down her temple. Why was it so hot all of a sudden? She tightened her grip on the doorknob in order to keep herself steady. She could feel the eyes of the one officer studying her intently. He was tall and slim and had a stern face. He didn’t look very sympathetic.

“We received a missing person’s report for a Mr. Craig Williams,” the other officer replied while the stern faced one waited for her reaction.

“Craig?” she swallowed. Hard.

Shaking her head to free herself from the ‘fuzz,’ Kelly tried to get a grip on what the officers were saying.

“Yes ma’am. Mr. Williams has been missing for the past three days. We understand that until recently, the two of you were living together at this address and we wanted to know if you’d heard from him.”

“Me?” she was finding it hard to focus. Her stomach was doing flip flops. Something had happened to Craig? How could that be? Hadn’t he just been there arguing with her? What was happening? Maybe he was in some kind of trouble and that’s why he’d come to her. He had needed her help and she had rejected him. He’d never been one to talk about his feelings, especially when he was in trouble. She should have read between the lines. Was he on the run? Did he see the police pulling up to her house and found the opportunity to get away? Kelly realized that his car wasn’t out front. How odd she thought until she remembered that his car was at the mechanic’s and he’d borrowed Trina’s car, and she had demanded that he park it nowhere near the house or she would have it towed. It was probably across the street. She needed to talk to him. But right now she had to play it cool with the police, so they wouldn’t suspect anything. The other officer was as tall as his partner but very muscular. His biceps looked as if they would burst out of his shirt. By the nameplate stuck to his uniform she saw that his name was Biggins. How funny was that she thought? The corner of her mouth began to lift into a small smirk, when she realized both officers were looking at her and she had obviously missed something.

“Sorry. What was that?”

“Ma’am, are you okay?” the slim one asked in a voice that showed absolutely no compassion. As a matter of fact, he sounded downright suspicious! The sweat seemed to be pouring freely now and Kelly wished she had a tissue or a towel. But instead she used the sleeve of her sweater to quickly dab at her forehead and tried to calm down. What did she have to be nervous about anyway?

“Actually, I’m not feeling very well officers. I think I’m coming down with something. Do you mind if I step outside to cool off?” the officers moved back a few steps so that she could step on to the front porch and close the door behind her. The balmy summer night air seemed to help a bit. Kelly could almost swear that she heard a noise coming from somewhere in the house, but wrote it off as nervousness and the nagging headache that wouldn’t go away.

Officer Biggins looked at her closely and said in a very calm voice: “Maybe we should go inside so you can sit down. You don’t look well.”

Kelly didn’t trust the quietness of his tone; it made her nervous as if they thought she was guilty of something. Instinct told her that letting them into her home would be a big mistake.

“Actually, I think the night air is helping. I must have picked up a bug or something.” She stood her ground. Sensing that they weren’t going to get her to budge, the officers backed off. But she knew that it wouldn’t be for long.

Suddenly she remembered the phone call from Craig’s new girlfriend. Hadn’t she also said that she hadn’t spoken to Craig? Did the police know about her? Maybe she was involved somehow. She would mention it to them as soon as she remembered her name. Oh, what was it? Why couldn’t she think? Her head was killing her. She didn’t realize that she had let out a moan until Officer Kent touched her arm to get her attention.

“Ma’am, were you saying something?”

“Uh…what? No, sorry…it’s just my head…I can’t….”
***
When Kelly opened her eyes she was in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Her head hurt more than ever. Craig, Craig, Craig seemed to be the rhythm of the pain. The paramedics radioed ahead to the hospital, she didn’t understand anything they were saying. “Craig, Craig, Craig.” Where was he? He should be here with her to let her know everything would be okay. She started to cry. One of the paramedics, a woman, touched her arm. Misunderstanding the reason for her distress, she told Kelly they would be at the hospital in less than two minutes.

“Just relax sweetie, as soon as we get there, you’ll get something for the pain,” she said with a smile.

But Kelly couldn’t relax…Craig, Craig, Craig; her brain felt like it would explode. Her eyes were heavy and all she wanted was to sleep. Where was Craig? Then finally she remembered…

Three days ago when Craig had arrived to pick up his things, they had argued. He had asked Kelly for his computer equipment and she told him it was in the basement. He had put his cell phone on the coffee table like so many times before as if he still lived there, it angered her. As soon as he’d gone downstairs, she locked the door. At first it was just to teach him a lesson, and then she wanted to scare him. She decided he needed to feel her pain, her sense of abandonment. What harm would it do? She thought. The basement was finished, with a bathroom and a freezer full of frozen food. But how long could a grown man survive on ice cream and frozen vegetables? She’d never really thought about it. For the past three days Craig had been begging her to open the door and let him out. But Kelly wasn’t ready to let go of what they had. She wasn’t ready to let him move on without her. Clarity hit her with as much pain as the migraine in her head. Craig hadn’t been trying to get in for the past three days; he’d been begging her to let him out!
“Oh no!” she said. Looking at the paramedic she realized that no one heard her over the noise of the siren.

“Craig,” she said and then everything went black.

3 comments

  1. Audrey Austin

    Joya, thank you for an amazingly wonderful story…….what a great twist at the end — came as a total surprise — great writing! 🙂

  2. Lorna Williams

    Awesome,had me sitting on the edge of my chair.This is strong and powerful…………..great job Joya

  3. JAZZ

    Besides Sci-Fi where anything goes, most other genres have to have a plausible plot or story line. And, yes, some can test the readers ability to suspend their disbelief, and this brings me to my point: Are we to believe that a grown man could not escape from his basement. No windows, steel door……what?

    But the writer obviously has talent.

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