“Well Preserved”

For this blog posting, instead of one of my usual reviews, I have decided to share one of my original short stories with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Well Preserved
by Jonathan Robbins

“We need to talk,” Maggie said the second Chris opened the door. Startled at the sound of her voice, because the room was immersed in darkness, he flipped the switch for the lights. Much to his surprise, he found her sitting at the dining room table of their one bedroom apartment in Boynton Beach, Florida. Just sitting. No glass of wine or cup of tea, which were her normal drinks of choice, was in front of her, and from Maggie’s apparent alertness it didn’t seem as if she had fallen asleep. Another thing that caught Chris’s attention was how stagnant the air in the apartment was. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his collared shirt as he walked across the room to the air conditioner and turned the dial to the coldest setting. Maggie didn’t turn her head as Chris passed. She just sat silent and motionless even though he ran his fingers through her straight, long, brown hair which fell slightly below her shoulders. Before sitting down at the table to talk to Maggie, who didn’t normally make a habit of sitting in the dark, Chris moved his head from side to side in an attempt to crack his neck, but it was to no  avail. For a compactly built guy, who worked out a minimum of four times a week, he always seemed to be surprisingly stiff. Maggie, on the other hand, had a limber body which seemed to perfectly suit her petite frame.

“What is it honey?” Chris asked, a look of concern etched on the contours of his face.

“Nothing,” she replied in a despondent tone.

“Nothing?” You’re sitting in the dark acting all creepy for nothing?” Chris said a bit taken aback.

“You think I am creepy?” Maggie asked, sounding like she was on the defensive.

“I didn’t say you’re creepy. I said you’re acting like it,” he hurriedly replied, trying to clarify the meaning of his words.

“That’s probably why you never take me anywhere.”

“Huh?” Chris had no idea in what direction the conversation was headed.

“We never go anywhere,” Maggie stated, as a pouty look appeared on her face; it was a look Chris intensely disliked.

“We went to Lion Country Safari up near Wellington just two weeks ago,” he responded in an attempt to jog her memory.

“Yeah, but we didn’t have to get out of the car, so nobody had to see me with you. You’re embarrassed by the way I look.”

“Embarrassed by your looks, that’s crazy; I think you look beautiful, you know that.”

“If I did, I wouldn’t bring this up.”

“I’ve just been busy with work.”

“You’re always busy with something, as long as it’s not me.”

“I am trying to get enough money together so we can get married; get a bigger place…you know that.”

“Maybe you’re just seeing someone on the side.”

“What?” Chris said in a tone which he hoped would register with Maggie and make her realize that he was hurt by her accusation.

“I don’t want anyone but you,” he said, as he reached across the table in an attempt to kiss her. She hesitated at first, but relented as Chris gently rubbed the back of her neck, which he would do for several more seconds before he resumed speaking.

“Why would I screw up the best thing, excuse me, the best relationship I’ve ever had. I met you thanks to a total fluke the night your car broke down. No girl alive out there is able to give me what you can. Okay?”

After a few seconds lapsed, Maggie responded in a voice that was barely audible: “Okay,” but she accompanied her response with a smile, which only lasted a mere second because her head fell forward to her chest in what appeared to be one swift motion. Chris lifted what he considered to be her doll-like face up again as he stared intently into her light blue eyes, which in his mind looked like two deep pools of inviting water.

What passed as the closest thing the two ever came to having words was over. Not wanting to let Maggie slip back into a negative mindset, Chris called out to her from the bedroom as he changed out of his work clothes.

“Where should we go for dinner tonight?”

“How about that new Italian place in Mizner Park?”

“Who told you about that?” Chris asked with a bit of trepidation in his voice.”

“I read about it in the Boca Beat Magazine last week. You left it open on the table.”

“Oh, yeah,” Chris responded having remembered he had been reading an article about a potential new quarterback the Dolphins were thinking about drafting; the only reason he had picked up the magazine in the first place.

After a few seconds of internal struggle, mostly over the cost factor of a restaurant in a ritzy area of Boca like Mizner Park, Chris felt he better not make waves and called out, “sounds great. I am going to jump in the shower.”

“Can I join you?” she replied in a playful tone.

“Sure,” he responded, while feeling a movement in his lower extremities. Maggie had been his girlfriend for almost two years, but he still got excited at the thought of either seeing her naked or making love to her, which he hoped they would do upon returning from dinner.

Chris had no patience for waiting to put what he felt was the nonsense they were speaking about behind them. Making his way to the table, he lifted Maggie up into his arms and brought her into the bedroom. Gently placing her on the bed, Chris began to remove her clothes. He didn’t just rip them off like some men might, but instead he savored each article as it left her body and was deposited on the carpeting below. Once they were both fully naked, he again picked her up in his arms and carried her into the bathroom and into the stall shower where he lowered her down and up against the wall as he began to adjust the water temperature.

Settling on luke warm, they washed one another, all the while kissing and caressing. The exhilaration he felt at being so close to her was momentarily marred while he was washing the shampoo out of her hair and realized that several dark strands had come off in his hand. He knew they weren’t his because he was ginger haired. Maggie, who had her back to him while he was doing this, didn’t notice, so Chris merely washed the hairs off before she had time to put two and two together when she turned around.

Once out of the shower, Chris toweled both himself and Maggie down. While doing so, she hit him with a startling statement, considering the nature of the conversation they had just a short time earlier.

“I don’t feel like going out tonight.”

“You told me I never take you anywhere.”

“I know, but I was just being silly.”

“No, we really haven’t gone out nice for a while; let’s go to that new place.”

“I don’t need a fancy restaurant to have a good time.

“I know you want to go out; its fine.”

“We can order in, unless you have an objection.”

Surprised, but happy, Chris didn’t protest. “Let me just grab the menu for Viola’s Pizza, or would you prefer Chinese?”

“You pick.”

He left the room to go order the food. The guy on the phone at Viola’s said it would be about a half hour. As much as Chris wanted to return to the bedroom to be with Maggie, he kept himself in check. No use getting started when he would only inevitably wind up being interrupted too soon for him to work any of his magic.

Chris went on the computer, checked his e-mail, and read a few short blogs written by some local sports’ writers. Soon enough there was a knock on the door, and waiting outside with their food in hand was a pimply faced teenager with greasy hair wearing a t-shirt that prominently featured Iron Man. After handing Chris the food the teen gave him a flyer.

“What’s this?” Chris asked, having not bothered to look down at what he was handed.

“Some lady was coming by just as I was about to knock on your door. She’s handing these out to everyone; asked me if I would give it to you. She told me she’s been doing it every month for almost two years.”

Chris looked down at the paper. It was a missing person’s flyer for a girl who, at the time of her disappearance, was eighteen. The paper contained the young woman’s vital statistics, as well as two pictures: In the first photo, the girl had long, flowing, brown hair; underneath the picture it indicated that it was a photo of how she looked at the time she went missing. The other picture showed the same girl, but this time she had short, bleached blonde hair that she wore in a spiky style; underneath that picture it read – Sophomore year of high school. There was a location listed where the girl’s car had been found abandoned, as well as a phone number for a tip line that had been set up by the family. Lastly, there was a $10,000 dollar reward open to anyone whose information led to her safe return.

“Sad, man; that woman ain’t ever going to find that girl two years after she’s gone,” the teen said. Chris had momentarily forgotten that he was still standing there. He handed the teen a little over twenty dollars which covered the bill and gave him a few bucks for a tip. Chris closed the door right afterwards in order to avoid further conversation. He stared at the flyer for a few more seconds before crumpling it up and throwing it in the trash can in the kitchen.

Making his way back into the bedroom, Chris began to experience the same feeling of anticipation that he had the first time he was with Maggie. It was a sensation that began in the pit of his stomach and worked its way up until it reached his brain, seemingly bringing forth a chemical change. Not the sort of change that can be seen or measured scientifically, but a potent one that took hold of his senses. Upon entering the room, he saw Maggie on the bed – sitting with her back against the headboard . . . a mute, but well preserved corpse of the young girl who he had killed two years earlier; however, once his fertile imagination took control, she became a vibrant woman who lovingly welcomed him into her open arms.

About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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4 Responses to “Well Preserved”

  1. lauren says:

    Very good, nice twist at the end!

  2. Ali Sohani says:

    The whole story was “well preserved”, in order to reveal the end. The mind of Chris in darkness was so long accustomed and “well preserved” that he’s unable to see and feel the light even occasionally when he came out to it…
    This is brilliant! Great work Robin.

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