It wasn’t love and I knew it all along. I bought a lie and it lay like a faded scar in my dreams. I used to see its silhouette in her veiled cyanic eyes. Faith. You know the kind of dark shadow that falls across your semi-waking mind in the night as you push consciousness away.
I always used to light her cigarette. It was the first habit I acquired around her when I met her all those years ago. Faith was mesmeric and she flickered like a blue flame. Fingers coiled around the slim drug. She snatched the flame from the heart.
The morning after the letter arrived I woke with my fists stuck to the sheets. I’d punched in the bedroom window the night before. The wounds on my knuckles were so painful I reached for the Tequila before the first egg hissed and crackled in the spitting pan. I stumbled to the tarnished bathroom mirror and encountered the empty resolution of my tired face. My stomach convulsed with the hatred born of guilt. I tossed the egg in the bin and poured some more Tequila, craving the loss of regret that only booze brought.
The letter sat folded by the bread bin.
It had been years since Faith left me. I remembered her standing in the hall of our large house. She held the list of goods she wished to take away in her manicured hands, and I watched her bold writing crawl like a mantra of desertion across the immaculate white paper. She was dancing that day as the tears rolled out of my burning eyes and splashed so loudly on the tiles that I thought the world had just turned the volume up.
‘I need these things’, she said, ‘and then I’m gone.’
I remember what I said, the words often wake me in the blackness of night when my limbs are paralysed from a deep dream.
‘Is that all we are, things?’
She blurred and faded in my hot tears.
Even then my voice sounded weak and I despised myself. I watched her leave and drive off with a part of my soul in her teeth. Over the ensuing weeks I tried hanging myself and cutting my wrists. I was a failure even in suicide. I gave up my job and allowed self hatred to grow like some cancerous friend. For there is comfort in disease. And I watched my wealth evaporate like a spray of perfume.
The only reason I washed any more was to see my daughter on those rare weekend visits Faith allowed. Although I acquired the capacity for huge amounts of alcohol, I never drank when I saw Melody, song of my heart. When I saw her I was always shaved and washed, wearing my best suit. I made sure she went away with the comforting illusion her father was happy and had moved on with his life.
It wasn’t until her teens that I began to know some sick little worm was eating her soul.
She burst into tears regularly when I saw her and told me nothing.
When I got the visit from the police a second part of my life swam away from. I was back in the day Faith left me. It produced a jolt like a broken bone snapping into place.
Melody had taken an overdose and I thought has she inherited this from me? Is her success as a suicide an even deeper failure of mine?
I knew it when I saw Faith at the funeral. Guilt lay embedded in the Botoxed ice of her face.
The letter arrived two days later. In it Melody recounted how she used to stay awake with her mother reassuring her about her looks. How Faith spent increasing amounts of money on them and knew the men she courted were eyeing her daughter.
She’d found a wealthy New York socialite who had it all and she’d set her sights on him, but he told her he liked Melody. And so she drugged her daughter and left them alone at her house and he raped her. She had it all on film and blackmailed him into marrying her. Melody knew. The way she put it in the letter was ‘I can’t live with a mother who sold me.’
I arranged to meet Faith. She wore the expected black and sat in a deep chair sipping Martini, her eyes hidden beneath sunglasses.
‘Did you have anything to do with her death?’, I said, watching my hands shake as I put my glass to my lips.
‘How could you say such a thing?’
‘I got a letter. From Melody.’
She looked at me over the rims of her Channels. It was the merest flicker of acknowledgement, like some wavering doubt in the mind of a meretricious trickster. She never loved, she never could. Not me, nor the daughter who had kept me alive. She was blighted, like some sick little apple you fetch from the orchard alone and hungry as a child.
I was going to leave when she said it.
‘If you hadn’t fucked up she would be alive now.’
I was walking toward the door when she lit a cigarette and on an old impulse I got the lighter from the side and held it to her lips.
It was a heavy lighter set in marble, something she’d acquired on a shopping spree and as I pulled it away I brought it crashing down on her head. I kept hitting her until she wasn’t moving.
She looked beautiful in death. Her skin was blue and as I leaned down and took her hand I said ‘I loved you, it was not the same the other way around. You were a lie, even your name is a lie, the only person who sustained me all these years was Melody, a piece of my fucking heart, and now she’s gone.’
I went home and tried to shoot myself but the gun failed. I turned the gas oven on and realised the supply had been cut off.
I always was a failure. So I sat and drank Tequila, watching the worm at the bottom of the bottle, wishing I could buy Melody back.
Richard Godwin is the author of crime novel Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer is crucifying politicians and recreating the murder scenes of an original case. The novel has received great reviews http://www.richardgodwin.net/media
It has just sold foreign rights to the largest publisher in Hungary
He is widely published in many magazines and anthologies and also writes horror and Bizarro as well as literary fiction and poetry. You can find out more about him here http://richardgodwin.net . His Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse are popular and penetrating interviews he conducts with other authors at his Blog
His second crime novel will be published in April of 2012 by Black Jackal Books as a paperback.