I’m going make this week’s prompt another short story in the same series. You may find all the previous installments under the title “The Cycle,” with a theme and number, in the Hive Index. I’ve been lazy about my fiction, and lately a reader has asked me about this story series, so…here goes.
The Cycle (IV): Kintsukuroi
Angela had spent the whole weekend with her husband’s journal. That journal and not much else. She took the phone off the hook. She didn’t eat. Her path through house consisted of a truncated and zagging path between the armchair by the cold fireplace, the refrigerator where she kept multiple bottles of Evian, and the bathroom on the first floor. It had been hard enough to sleep in the bed her and her husband had shared, ever since his crimes were laid bare…literally. After she found the journal and read the first few entries, Angela gave over the idea of sleep completely. Every time she closed her eyes, a fusillade of gruesome images kept her from achieving anywhere near the peace of mind required to relax into sleep. Most of the images were montages conjured by her own mind– the few details the detective had shared with her from the crime reports , and the faces of the women as they had been before her husband had “fixed” them. With these details, and the sickly ambiguous writing in her husband’s journal, prose that were somehow equal parts self-important, saccharin, and terrifying, Angela tortured herself with vivid scenarios of what had happened to each of the women. In these scenarios, she recognized her husband’s face, his handsome face, but his eyes burned with the light of insanity, practically glowing, like the eyes of a comic book demon.
That he thought of these women, his victims, as finished products– as his art– was sickening. That he thought he was “fixing” them, making them better somehow, like a craftsman repairing a piece of broken pottery with powdered gold, was untenable. But his vanity and the truth of his hedonistic pursuits were revealed by the fact that all of the women had similar characteristics. Petite, pale blonde hair, tiny aristocratic nose… Fragile looking, yet with an undefinable verve. Like a flower.
Like her sister.
Jill. It was impossible to tell if the obsession had started with her, or ended with her. Were all his victims merely substitutes, or were they practice for his endgame?
Or had Jill’s disappearance merely been a result of her conveniently fitting his ideal victim type? No. There she was, fooling herself again. At the very least, he knew who Jill was when she had taken her. She figured in to all of this somehow.
All of these horrid images and ideas chased one another through her mind, keeping her restless and nauseous, and wearing at her sanity like an angry dog wearing a groove in the ground at the end of its leash.