So In Love
Amanda and her soon to be ex, Neil, were on the phone.
Amanda poured water into her coffeemaker. Her hands shook. Water splashed her adorable coffee accessories, her sink, her shirt.
What do you mean you’re in love with her? We broke up two weeks ago! You just tried to come over and have sex with me on Friday.
I know. I’m a horrible person.
Yes. You are. I don’t understand any of this.
Amanda. Do you remember when I would wake you up because I was trying to cuddle with you? You always pushed me away? I used to stay awake crying and hugging my pillow.
The point I’m making is that you never loved me. Heidi holds me all night long. When she looks at me, she has all this love and adoration in her eyes. You never looked at me that way.
And that’s what you want? A sycophant?
Did you leave me for her?
Good bye, Neil.
I really hope we can be friends, Amanda. I really care about ….
Amanda hung up.
That evening Amanda put all of Neil’s stuff in a box and took a hike on the trail near her apartment. She reached the top of a steep incline, the city gridded below. Amanda breathed in the sunset, exhaling visions of Neil; exhaling far fetched glimmers of happiness.
She sifted through the box: Neil’s too-small t shirts, a small camcorder, an expensive pair of handcuffs Neil had given her to spice up their nonexistent sex life. One by one she threw these things into the dying light.
She cried. A lot. The tears turned from desperation to catharsis once the last of Neil’s things disappeared.
Her eyes inflamed, but dry, she turned to make her way home. She picked her way down the trail and wished she hadn’t thrown away Neil’s flashlight. Many a local dog had been snatched by coyotes of late and Amanda didn’t want to become a statistic. The lights at the bottom of the hill were visible, she could see her apartment. She pictured the six pack waiting in her well lit fridge.
A rustle in the bushes directly in front of her made her start – made her lose her footing.
She picked a rock out of her skinned knee. The rustle came again. Closer. Frozen, Amanda listened. It sounded bigger than a coyote.
The whispers had to be in her head. Fear of impending crazy made her scramble to her feet, and Amanda ran the rest of the way home.
Amanda gazed out the plane window into the night. All she could see was her face reflected – red eyes to match the Red Eye.
Going east was the best solution. Her life, unhappy and utterly intertwined with Neil’s, needed a restart. Their mutual co-workers had wished her a teary goodbye. Neil was noticeably absent. A conversation she wasn’t meant to overhear played in her head:
That girl Heidi? Said she would do whatever it takes for her and Neil to be together.
Whatever it takes? Amanda never stood a chance.
Amanda shouldn’t care.
Amanda lay in bed and marveled at the changes that the work of only a few months could make. Spacious east coast artist loft. Chiseled east coast boyfriend. Tom was a guy she didn’t mind cuddling with.
She only thought of Neil when he called her. Each time his number popped up on her caller ID she suppressed angina – but since she had asked him repeatedly not to contact her, the calls had tapered off some.
Next to her, Tom snuffled and rolled over, putting his arms around her. Amanda drifted to sleep.
The ringing of her phone jerked her awake.
4:36 am. Who the fuck is calling me now?
Amanda checked the blackberry screen.
What the fuck babe?
Tom was cranky. Despite his wonderfulness, he was still kind of a dick when he was woken up.
Suppressing angina, Amanda put the phone down. It rang again.
Tom sat up.
Are you kidding me?
The phone rang again.
Amanda picked up.
Neil? What the fuck?
A girl’s voice
Where is Neil?
Who is this?
Where is Neil? I want Neil……
Oh my God.
Amanda threw the phone down and burst into tears.
Tom was finally sympathetic. Amanda related the voice of the creepy girl.
It’s just a prank babe. It’s ridiculous. Immature.
The calls gave birth to a hard knot of fear in Amanda’s stomach. Seeing Neil’s number sent her into a backward spiral of shame and loss. She didn’t need to be told who the woman on the phone was; but after so much time she had no idea why she was on Heidi’s mind.
Over the next week, the nighttime calls continued. On the morning of the third occasion, Tom was fed up.
You’ve gotta talk to your ex, babe. This can’t keep going on.
I don’t want to talk to him.
I know. But it’s harassment at this point. Not to mention the fact that SHE KEEPS WAKING ME UP.
Tom tied his tie and headed to his office. Amanda picked up the phone. She dialed Neil’s number from memory.
Neil? It’s me.
Neil, someone’s been calling me from your phone. A woman.
Who could do that? I deleted your number because you told me not to call you anymore.
I’ve been getting prank calls from your number for a week. Is it Heidi?
No way. She wouldn’t do that.
Do any other women in your home have access to your phone, Neil?
No. But that doesn’t seem like Heidi. Are you sure it was my phone?
Christ! Neil your girlfriend has been prank calling me all week. I want it to stop.
No, Amanda, there has to be another explanation. How are you, anyway?
Neil. Give crazy a baby so she has better things to do than calling me all the time.
She has cervical cancer, Amanda. She can’t have babies.
Fuck. I’m sorry. It’s just that my boyfriend is flipping out this – girl wakes us up every night.
You have a boyfriend?
I gotta go. It was good to hear from you, Amanda.
The line went dead.
Two weeks went by without a call. Amanda forgot all about the sordid situation as Tom whisked her off to fancy dinners, the movies, the theater.
One balmy Thursday, Amanda found herself on cloud nine. She had just been to a dinner party with Tom’s work friends. Tom had never looked handsomer, his friends had been utterly gracious, and by all reports she had been a complete success.
Stopping in front of their door, Tom dipped her backwards for a movie star kiss. Amanda threw her purse to the ground in order to better commit herself to the moment.
When the kiss had commenced, Tom, ever the gentleman, reached down to retrieve her bag.
Babe? Are you on the rag or something?
There’s blood all over your purse.
What? That wasn’t there before. Did I drop it in something?
Amanda pulled out her phone and lit it up, shining the screen on the ground where her bag had fallen. The light reflected in the glazed eyes of a human fetus.
Tom poked the mess with the tip of his shoe.
The police force was less than forceful. Tom made Amanda cup of tea while she told the story of her involvement with Neil and Heidi for the hundredth time.
This is your ex’s new girlfriend that has been calling?
Yes. I’ll show you my call log.
310? Does she live around here?
No. It’s Neil’s number. 310 is…
I find it highly unlikely that she would travel across the continent to leave a fetus at your door.
Who else would?
Neil is your ex, correct?
And he left you?
Amanda, is it? Isn’t it possible that you might have a teeny bit of a grudge against this girl?
Well, yes. But why would I plant a fetus outside my own door?
To make this other woman look bad? Perhaps to sabotage your ex’s current relationship.
Look. Amanda and I are very happy. She has no reason to seek to damage her ex. We were at a dinner part all night. Many people can corroborate that.
The cop picked up the bagged fetus. Clotted blood stuck to the official government labels.
I’ll need the names and numbers of your alleged alibis. Sir? I’d suggest you keep an eye on this one.
Later, in bed, sleep eluded Amanda. She couldn’t get the fetus out of her head. She couldn’t get Neil out of her head. She couldn’t get the cost of dry cleaning her favorite bag out of her head.
At 4am she gave up. Amanda got up, put on shoes and went down the street to get a soda.
Once outside, her phone rang. Amanda picked it up.
What? What do you want?
Did you get my present, Amanda? It’s Neil’s baby, Amanda. Neil’s and mine. That’s as far as I can carry them. Because I have cervical cancer.
I’m so sorry…wait. What?
It’s for you, Amanda. I know you want Neil’s baby, too.
I really don’t. I just want to forget that you exist. Why won’t you let me move on?
Because he won’t move on. He’s still in love with you, Amanda. And he will be until you’re dead.
Look behind you, Amanda.
Amanda did a 180 in the silent street. Ten yards away a woman lowered a cell phone from her head.
The woman had bedraggled brown hair and a twisted mouth. She wore a white velour jumpsuit. The bottoms were soaked in blood – beginning at the crotch and ending at the knees. The woman threw her phone to the curb and pulled a carving knife out of her waistband.
You don’t even deserve to say my name, bitch. You broke Neil’s heart. I’ve always loved him so I was there to pick up the pieces. I put his heart back together. I love him so.
He loves you! He told me!
But he still thinks about you. He loves me but still thinks about you. So I have to get you out of his head. I have to abort you.
Leave me alone!
I can’t, don’t you see? I must have all of Neil. All of him. All of him.
Heidi rushed at Amanda with the knife raised.
At the last moment, Amanda ducked, deflecting the knife away from her heart. It impaled her shoulder, pushing Amanda to the ground. Thunder boomed overhead and gentle raindrops began to fall, kissing the blade protruding from Amanda’s clavicle.
Amanda tugged at the handle of the knife. It was too painful to withdraw, and Heidi leaning over her and shrieking like a banshee was a huge distraction.
Helpful Heidi gripped her knife with both hands and ripped it out of Amanda. A stream of blood spurted from the hole, landing on Heidi’s jumpsuit and soiling it further. Heidi stretched her hands over her head to deliver the death blow. Garnering her strength, Amanda raised her leg and kicked her assailant square in the vagina.
Heidi wailed – Amanda rolled away. She made a break for her door, pulling her keys from her pocket. The rain had begun in earnest now, and Amanda lost her footing, sprawling face first on her stoop. Heidi limped after her and jumped, clawing at Amanda’s buttocks. Amanda turned and poked her keys directly into Heidi’s eye. They took a moment to dislodge from the socket, and made a squishing sound as they went. Amanda scrambled to fit the keys into her lock. A blessed bolt of lightning lit the way and Amanda let herself into her home.
The pounding on the window was permeating her sanity. Amanda huddled on the ground, holding her ears. She wanted to call for help, but had lost her phone at some point during the melee outside.
Amanda. Amanda. Let me in, Amanda.
Amanda became concerned that the screaming outside would wake Tom.
Tom! Of course! Tom was asleep in the other room. Tom owned a phone. Amanda trailed blood from her shoulder along the kitchen floor, across the living room, onto the bedroom carpet. She shook her boyfriend.
Tom? Where’s your phone, Tom? Heidi is outside, trying to kill me.
Tom gurgled and rolled away.
Please wake up. I need help.
Babe, I’m fucking asleep.
Amanda reeled emotionally from his distemper. She reeled physically from blood loss.
Tom, where is your phone?
Amanda didn’t want to go back in there – see Heidi’s crazy face, deal with the incessant pounding. Amanda’s head hurt, and she felt very tired.
Amanda curled up on the carpet beside the bed.
I’ll just rest here. Just for a minute.
She listened to the rain drumming on the window. It was so peaceful. She decided to close her eyes.
Just for a minute.
Amanda slipped gently into the state between wakeful and sleeping – until it meshed with the state between living and death. Fond memories began to play in her mind: A childhood birthday party. A family vacation. Meeting Tom. Hiking. Watching the sun set from the top of the trail beside her old apartment.
Throwing all of Neil’s stuff away. That had been so satisfying. Saying goodbye to all the reminders of the weak man who had been tricked by a manipulative, juicy couture knock off wearing mental patient and yes my life is better now but how dare someone leave me that way and how dare they keep barging into my life and how DARE this woman ruin my PURSE and STAB me and fuck up my life like this
Rage forced Amanda’s eyes open. She jumped to her feet. A dizzy spell indicated walking was premature so she began to crawl out of the bedroom.
The rain and the pounding had stopped. Amanda made her way past the window and used a chair to pull herself upright. She sat briefly to catch her breath and spotted Tom’s phone blinking across from her on a counter.
Amanda rose and shuffled toward the phone. She was losing strength, her vision going gray around the edges. The kept the phone in her eyeline, working inexorably toward it. Amanda reached out
A bloody hand removed the phone from her field of vision.
Is this what you’re after?
Heidi held the phone just out of Amanda’s reach.
You’re not looking so good. I have no idea what Neil sees in you.
Heidi extended one long, accusatory finger and inserted it into the gaping hole she had created on Amanda’s shoulder. Hot, white pain was all she could see. From a long way off, she could hear herself screaming.
I can’t really feel this anymore. I must be in shock.
Amanda drifted out of her body.
Amanda registered shrieking, wailing laughter. Amanda registered a male voice cutting the laughter off. She reconnected with her body when her head hit the edge of the counter. She noticed she was no longer being held aloft by Heidi’s finger. She looked around.
Heidi was being pinned to the ground by one of Tom’s muscular fists. He used the other to rub sleep out of his eyes.
After three pints of blood and 16 stitches in her shoulder, Amanda was ready to go to the police station and make a statement.
Tom led her out to his BMW. He opened the door for her, revealing a giant bouquet of roses and a teddy bear. He would be making up for almost sleeping through her murder for a long time.
Once at the station, they were greeted by the cop who had been at her apartment investigating the fetus.
Apparently this woman has been obsessed with Neil for years. She became obsessed with you as soon as you and Neil started dating. She’s patient. She bided her time until she saw the perfect weak spot in your relationship. We’ve pulled up emails and digital files from her PDA. I don’t need to go into detail – let’s just say you’re lucky to be alive. Hell hath no fury, eh?
Tom and Amanda were not amused.
The crazy piqued when Heidi miscarried this baby. Doctors have been telling her she can’t carry them to term, but it seems she kept trying. I think she blamed you for the death of this specific fetus.
Amanda rolled her eyes.
Ma’am, I just need your statement before her boyfriend comes to escort her back to the west coast. There is a high security mental hospital holding a bed for her.
I think we’d like to press charges officer. Should we have a lawyer present?
Tom led the cop away.
Amanda sank into a chair and closed her eyes.
A familiar voice.
She turned around.
How are you?
I’ve been better.
You look great.
No. I don’t.
I’d better check in with Heidi. We’re supposed to go on a wine tour next week but she might want to reschedule now….
She really loves me, Amanda. This just proves it. It feels really great, having someone love you this much.
He gave Amanda a look
You just wouldn’t understand.
Molly Rydzel is the undisputed leader of her zombie survival squad as well as EdibleBrains Productions. She has recently been published in the Short Fast and Deadly Anthology and the Zombiality Anthology from Library of the Living Dead Press. Her second full length play, Sex is Sexy, is currently being workshopped in Manhattan and was voted in the top 100 new plays by Writer’s Digest. Molly lives in Brooklyn.
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