“I’m sorry it had to end this way, but it did. It’ll be better for us both if we handle this like grown adults, so please, don’t make a fuss about it.” I’m pretty sure that when Sam sent me that break-up SMS, she didn’t think she would find me hanging myself when she came to pick up her stuff. That was 3 weeks ago, and since then she has called every 2nd day to make sure I’m not dead. I sometimes get the feeling she secretly wants me to die, so she can just move on. I sometimes get the feeling that she thinks that I just attempted to guilt trip her. She has no idea what she did to me. You say you would catch a grenade for them, and then suddenly when you do, they’re the one throwing the grenade.
She’s recently been trying to get me out of the house more. She probably wants to ship me off to someone else, get sympathy points with some guy and kick-start another relationship. I guess I’ll just have to play along.
We went to our local coffee shop today, the one where she was always eyeballing the baristas. Now I can kind of see why. Most of them are handsome, young, and look unlikely to have an emotional breakdown if you break up with them per SMS. I can hardly blame her! I used to look like that, too. Or at least, that’s what it felt like with the amount of people asking me for my number. I never gave them a wrong number, I couldn’t bear to do that to someone, I just let them be disappointed when they see what I’m like. I’m not particularly interesting, just your average Joe. I have an average height, average weight, average brown eyes, and average brown hair at an average length. Sometimes people tell me I could model. Those are the comments that surprise me the most. I don’t even look very good.
I order my usual drink, just an average cappuccino, and Sam tells them to put an extra shot of coffee in. They take one look at me and realize it’s probably a good idea. I get that a lot. I’ve had several people come up to me and ask me if they should take me to the hospital. My boss personally came up to me and told me I should go home and rest. The first thing they ask me is always the same: “Those damn migraines are a real pain in the ass, huh?” When I tell them I don’t have any of that, they go to the next most obvious choice: “Don’t tell me you’ve caught a stomach virus!” With the amount of rejections happening in the world each day, you’d think people would ask something like “Didn’t get the girl?” or “Did she say no?” instead. I guess people just keep thinking: “I’m the only unlucky one that this has happened to.”
We’ve gone to this same coffee shop twice today already, and now we’re going again. Sam is always pushing to get to the longhaired barista’s line. He’s called Greg and he recommends their new iced tea, or at least that’s what his nametag on his green apron says. I sit down with my cappuccino and see her waiting at the counter to give him her number.
A woman, probably a bit younger than I am, walks through the café and looks like she is searching for something. She comes up to me and puts her hand on the chair where Sam would sit when she comes back from the counter. “Is this chair free?” She asks me, holding her drink in her other hand. I look over at Sam and wildly gesture something that roughly equates to “Can she sit?” Sam ignores me, still fawning over the barista. “Sure, no problem.” I tell the woman. She takes a seat in front of me, and keeps looking over to me. It takes me a while to realize, but when I do, I blush. She tries to start a conversation: “So, uh, what’re you drinking?”
“It’s just a cappuccino, nothing special. And you?”
“They have this new drink with yoghurt in it, and I heard it was great, so I decided to try it and honestly, it tastes like crap.”
We laugh and then turn awkwardly silent. We both seem to listen to the noise coming from everywhere else inside the café. A truck drives by, with ads for a new movie on it. She tries to keep the conversation going: “So, what actors do you like?”
“Well, I don’t really have any favorite actors, just roles that I liked them in. For example Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones.”
“Oh, of course, he’s hilarious in that role. It’s hard to not love him, honestly. I think Benedict Krummingsnatch is a great actor, especially in Sherlock.”
“Isn’t he called… Benedict Summershatch or something?”
We start making up different names for the actor and end up laughing really loudly. We eventually stop laughing. She looks at me and asks: “So, what’s your name?”
“Damien. Damien Anders. What’s yours?”
“Jane. Jane Wint. Nice to meet you, Damien.”
“Nice to meet you, too.”
We decide to go outside for a walk. I see Sam is still waiting for the barista to notice her. I wave over to her, and surprisingly she looks at me. I point my thumb at Jane and gesture that we’re about to go for a walk. Sam gives me two thumbs up and a smile, the universal sign of approval. The barista finally looks at her, so I make a turning symbol and she turns around and is surprised to see him finally looking at her. Jane and I leave the coffee shop.
We walk to our park nearby and take a seat on the first bench we see. We’re both still rather nervous. I put on my best Forrest Gump impression and say: “My mama always said – ”
She breaks into the quote midsentence in a Forrest Gump impression, too: ” – life is like a box of chocolates…”
Her Forrest Gump impression definitely tops mine. We both laugh, and then her phone vibrates. “Oh, no, I have to go now, I’m sorry,” She tells me, and gets up in a hurry, “I had such a great time, I hope we meet again.”
“Wait!” I call out to her.
She stops in her tracks and turns around to face me. “Huh?”
“Do you want my number, so we can meet again?” I ask her, suggestively waving my phone around.
“Oh, I’m such an idiot! Of course, that would be a great idea!” She runs back to me and takes out her phone, clearly in a hurry.
I tell her my phone number and she tells me hers, and then she rushes off, faster than before. I notice that’s it’s already started to get dark.
As I get home, I notice that Sam has taken some of her things. Typical. Doesn’t even take the time to say goodbye properly. To be honest, I don’t even care anymore, though. I found Jane today, and life is definitely going uphill for me. I send her a text: “Why were you in such a hurry? Don’t worry, I won’t freak if you’re some kind of reverse vampire or something. 😉 ”
I don’t get a response the whole rest of the evening, but I do my best not to freak out. I don’t want to sound creepy, sending her a billion text messages asking what she’s doing and where she is. And just like that, my world falls apart. One single thought is all it takes: What if she’s just not into me?
Alcohol helps me through the night.
I wake up the next morning to a barrage of knocking on my door as Sam’s voice echoes in the stairwell: “DAMIEN, OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!” What is up with her? It’s not like someone just broke up with me again. Even thinking of it breaks me apart, and so I find myself opening the door with red eyes. “Oh my god, Damien, what happened?” She asks me.
“Nothing.” I say, rubbing my eyes.
“Damien, don’t do this.” She says, looking at my eyes, overreacting.
“Don’t do what?” I ask her, starting to feel pissed off.
“Damien, please don’t do this again.” Sam tells me, starting to look scared, like she fears for my life. There are a million ways to describe Sam, but apparently smart is not one of them.
“Sam, would you kindly tell me why you’re here or get the fuck out of my face please? I tell her, suddenly raising my voice for the first time in ages.
Although shocked at first, she quickly replies, slightly annoyed: “I called you several times but you didn’t pick up. What happened?”
“Have you heard of sleeping?” I tell her, still snappy.
“I thought we had the promise that I would call you before going to work every second day and you would pick up.”
“I thought you were out of my life after both of us finding someone else. The way you ended our relationship definitely indicated that.”
“Oh, don’t get me started on our relationship, Damien, you don’t want to salt those wounds.”
“Wounds? That’s what you’re calling our relationship now? After YOU breaking up with ME? Do you have so little common sense? If you think you have it bad, then you can get out of my life. I never wanted you to come save me. That was your choice and don’t even think about claiming otherwise.”
“Don’t you remember what you did when you were drunk?” She asks me, now somber.
“Me? Drunk? You were the heavy drinker, Sam! There was barely a single weekend where I came home to you NOT passed out on the floor. I didn’t even start drinking more than a glass a week before you ripped me apart, you hypocrite!” I start raising my voice. She needs to stop trying to make me feel bad for what she did to me or so help me, God…
“Hypocrite? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! You were insulting me for every mistake I made and never gave me any breathing room, then complained about feeling pressured in our relationship. You were the one who decided you wanted more space. You were the one who tried to kill himself when I broke up with you, because you already had more than enough space but were still trying to keep a really close watch over me, barely giving me any freedom.” Sam starts yelling at me.
“Don’t you dare put this on me, Sam. You ruined my life. Now, when I’m slowly starting to heal again, and have a new person in my life, you’re coming to tear it all down again? Get the fuck out of my face, the fuck out of my house, and the fuck out of my life. I don’t want to see you ever again, you hear me? Never. Again.”
I slam the door in Sam’s face, fuming.
I realize that I really urgently have to go to the toilet, so I run off and am stopped in my tracks by the sound of my phone ringing. I turn around and look at it. It’s Jane! I cancel the call with the message: “I’ll call you right back, but nature called first.”
After I get back to my phone, I call her. She answers the call after the second ring: “Hey Damien, how’s it going?”
“Not so great,” I tell her, “ex problems. My day’s gotten a bit better now thanks to you.”
“Something to do with that brunette in the café yesterday?”
“It’s complicated. I’ll tell you the story, but I don’t have time right now. Want to go for a drink later?”
“Sure. How about the bar between that new museum and the park?”
“You mean the new one that had that big opening?”
“Yeah, exactly that one. They have a brand new type of bar, apprently.”
“Sounds cool. Is 7PM good for you?”
“See you then.”
I put my phone down and start throwing the worthless stuff that belonged to Sam out of the window, but keep the expensive stuff to sell.
I get to the bar a few minutes early and try to find two free seats. Near the middle of the bar I find a perfect spot and take a seat. A waitress walks up to me and asks me if I’ve ordered yet. I tell her that I’m still waiting for someone and the waitress walks away.
Barely a moment later I see Jean walk into the bar. She looks around, looking for me, so I wave at her. She sees me almost instantly and starts smiling. She walks over to our table and sits down, looking happy. The waitress comes by and we order our drinks, then we get to the talking. “So,” she says, “you said it was a long story. The bar doesn’t close for another ten hours or so, so we have time.”
We laugh. I start to explain: “I was with Sam for a few years when she decided it would be a good idea to break up with me. I was completely lost and felt like the world was ending, so I tried to kill myself. ”
Jane is shocked. “Wait… You almost committed suicide?” I look at her solemnly, nod, then go back to talking: “Sam happened to come pick up her stuff roughly at the same time I started hanging myself and when she came to visit she got the shock of her life. The first few days she came by, then she called every second day. In the last week she tried to get me leaving the house, and that’s how I met you. This morning my ex came by to take the last bit of her stuff she hadn’t taken when I almost tried to commit, but then she got ridiculously pissed when I told her she was overreacting and she started accusing me of random things that just weren’t true, so I just didn’t want to take her shit and we ended up yelling at each other until I slammed the door in her face and threw her stuff out of the window.”
Jane tries to lighten the mood: “Well that wasn’t long or complicated. I was expecting an Inception of break up stories.”
I chuckle. “Well, I’m not much of a Leo Di Caprio.”
Jane laughs, too. “More of a Benedict Krummingsnatch, then?”
I keep laughing, and then stop suddenly to ask her a more serious question: “So, this whole situation isn’t too much for you?”
Jane looks at me, with an almost sad smile. “No… At least, I think not.”
I didn’t expect an answer like that, but I’m not complaining. “I don’t know how I could thank you enough.” I tell her, and she leans over the table and kisses me.
The band that came in while we were talking taps on the microphone and the lead says: “This song is for you two in the middle. Careless Whisper by WHAM!”
As cliché as it is, the classic saxophone tune starts playing, Jane and I look at each other and then I ask her: “Want to go home after this song?”
She looks a bit sad and answers: “I have papers due soon, so I should probably get started on those.”
The smile on my face instantly turns into a frown. “Oh, ok… Well, you know, just call me when you feel like going out, ok?”
Jane can read the disappointment off my face. “Don’t worry, I’ll call you tomorrow and we can meet up the day after if you want. The papers are due then anyway.”
I let out a little laugh. “That’s cutting it a bit close, isn’t it?”
Jane laughs with me and says: “I like my papers like salami: good but thin.”
We keep laughing but then turn awkwardly silent. Jane tries to break the silence, but we just start laughing again and just can’t stop laughing for ages. We don’t notice that the singer has gotten through several songs already until we’re done. I look at my phone and realize that we’ve been here for several hours already. Jane probably noticed, too, because she looks slightly panicked.
She looks at me and says: “I’m sorry, Damien, I’ve got to go now. I had a great time. Call you tomorrow?”
I smile. “Sure, that’d be nice.”
I pay the drinks and then take Jane to the door. We both say goodbye, but then start walking the same way. “So,” I ask her, “where in the city do you live?”
She looks at me, smiles, and says: “Just in the southeastern corner, near the river.”
“No way! Me, too! I’m in an apartment building right next to that thing over there.” I point over to the skyscraper looming over the horizon.
“I just moved in that apartment building!” She grins.
“You’re shitting me.” I’m surprised.
“Yeah, I moved into my apartment on the 3rd floor just a few weeks ago.” She smiles her cute little crooked smile.
“I’m on the top floor, just one floor above you!” I tell her.
“The noises this morning were coming from you, huh?” She asks me.
“Oh that, yeah. Like I said, ex problems.” I scratch the back of my head, smiling awkwardly.
We walk slowly, and after a long night of chatting we finally get home and go to our respective apartments.
The next morning I wake up and see a note under my door. I put it on the table, then take the coffee I made myself yesterday out of the fridge. I pour my glass full and then sit down. I pick up the note and start reading it. It says: “I’m sorry about everything. -Sam”. I take a sip of my coffee and then read the note again, thinking I must’ve misread something. Nope. It’s still the same. Weird. This is so unlike her! I decide to go for a walk. Maybe some fresh air will help me find out why Sam would write a note like that.
I walk down the stairs and leave the house, then walk down to the riverside. I just can’t seem to think of any reason why Sam would write something like that. Could she really have changed? I don’t think so, but…
I get back to my apartment building and realize that on the third floor one of the doors is wide open. I go upstairs into my apartment to put my stuff down, then back down to the third floor. I take another look at the open door. That’s Jane’s apartment! “Hey,” I yell, “Jane! Everything okay?” No answer. I slowly inch towards the open door and a horrible stench fills my nose. “Uh, ” I complain, hoping to hear an innocent answer from inside the apartment, “what is that smell?”
I slowly walk into the living room and see Jane sprawled on the floor, blood flowing out of her head. I crouch down and check her pulse. Nothing! I put the back of my hand in front of her mouth, and can’t feel anything either. I call the ambulance and tell them: “I just found my neighbour lying on the floor! Her head is bleeding and she has no pulse! Please hurry!” I realize I haven’t told them address yet, so I tell them that, too. “We’re on the third floor. Second apartment from the left, next to the stairs.” I sit down next to Jane and hold her hand. I grab a towel and put it under her head. At first I just sit there, motionless, but then after a few minutes I start crying. My head sinks a little as I just keep crying, my tears falling down into her hair. Why? Why did this have to happen to her? And who could do something like this? Sam. It must’ve been her. Why else would she have written the apology note?
The ambulance arrives and I stand away to let them take Jane to the emergency room. One of the paramedics asks me in a soft voice: “Do you want to come with us?” I look at them and slowly shake my head. “No,” I answer sadly, “I… I need to clear my head somehow… I need some fresh air.” They take a quick glance at my pale face and nod. The paramedics rush down the stairs with Jane and roll her into the ambulance car. I start walking along the river and become more and more convinced of the fact that Sam killed Jane. She will pay for what she did. I think it’s time that she reaped what she has sown.
I walk right up to Sam’s doorstep and ring the doorbell. She opens the door and is confused. “What are you doing here, Damien?” She asks me. I look at her in the eyes, feel my anger boiling over, and storm into the house. She closes the door, surprised, and turns around to face me. “What are you doing here,” she asks again, “Damien? If you don’t answer, I’ll call the police.” I laugh. “And then what,” I retort, “you’ll tell them how you killed Jane?” Sam can barely get any words out of her mouth: “What… what… what d-did you… you just say?” She’s shaking. She must be confused at how I figured it out. She didn’t leave any evidence at the crime scene and must’ve thought I’d think the note were for something else.
Well, tough luck, I’m smarter than that. “There’s no point lying, I know that you killed her!” I say, triumphant. She looks at me, and is scared for some reason. If anything, I should be scared of her. She’s the one who killed Jane, not me! “Woah,” she says, holding her hands in front of her, as to try and calm me down, or defend herself, or maybe both, “woah, woah, stop right there. I didn’t kill anyone. What are you going on about?” Oh, is that how she’s going to do this? She wants to go the hard route? Well, then let’s bring out the claws.
“You left me a note apologizing for something,” I start raising my voice, “and then all of a sudden Jane is bleeding out on the carpet in her aparment. That’s a little bit too much of a coincidence, don’t you think?” She starts slowly walking towards the kitchen, but I run to the knife block to take out the largest blade.
Sam panics and runs back in the other direction to get to the door. I throw the knife at her, but I aim too low, hitting her in the leg. Nevertheless, the blade penetrates her leg, stopping at the bone. Sam screams, going into shock and staggering while I run towards her to pick up the knife. I rip it out of her leg and stab her in the chest. I plough the knife in, I dig it out, plough it in again, dig it out again. I defile her carpet with her blood to the point at which my pants start to soak up her. Every movement I make is a squelching mess of crimson as I rip apart what is already dead.
Suddenly, I stop. Slowly standing up, I feel the weight of my pants, soaked in Sam’s blood. I look down at what I’ve done and slowly realize my mistake. Adrenaline pumps through my veins, and I can almost feel my bloodstream being filled with cortisol as I look around me into the scarlet pool I created. This madness must end now. This has to stop. What I did was wrong. No, it wasn’t. Sam killed Jane. Sam killed Jane. Sam had it coming. Sam killed Jane because she was jealous. She had it coming.
A neighbour knocks at the door. “Are you okay, miss?” I don’t answer and hold my breath. I’m not wrong in what I did, but they won’t understand . Sam had it coming. I did the right thing. The neighbour knocks again, this time harder. “I’m going to call the police!” I start looking for a way to escape, only to realize that it’s futile. I’m covered in blood, my fingerprints are all over the place and someone saw me coming in. There is no way out. My actions were justified, but the police will say otherwise. I will go to jail for doing the right thing. I cannot let that happen. This is going to end my way. This has to end my way.
Trembling, I pick up the knife and close my eyes. In one swift motion, I cut through my jugular veins and end my life. Or rather, that’s what I was planning to do. I spend the last few minutes of my life lying on top of Sam, pathetically clutching my throat in pain as blood spurts out, and the last thing I hear are police sirens from afar, along with the slowing throbbing of my heart.