The Ladies of Horror
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The One That Got Away
by Naching T. Kassa
Jerry Thomas stared out the window of his first-floor office, his heart aching in his chest. Beyond the glass, across the street, lay the large expanse of Elm Tree Park. A young woman knelt in the grass. She held a bouquet of daffodils and tears glittered like diamonds upon her cheeks.
Jerry adjusted his glasses. He’d recognized her right away. Her name was Lila Bennett.
The one that got away.
For years he’d regretted his decision not to pursue her, had chided himself for ever allowing her to go. She’d become a thorn of remorse, burrowing its way into his heart.
And now, here she was.
He rose from his desk, unmindful of the time, his supervisor, or any of his duties. He rushed from the building and out into the glare of afternoon sunshine and found that she had gone.
The daffodils lay on the grass. They seemed to glow amongst the green, as though they had absorbed the sunlight which bathed them. He knelt as she had and touched the petals, then glanced up, searching the park for any sign of her. He found none.
A flash of white among the elms drew his attention. Lila had gone into the forest at the park’s center. He followed.
A hunch led him to the waterfall cave among the trees, the very heart of the park. It was the place where their love had ended, where he had allowed her to leave his life. He’d been so stupid then. He would never make that mistake again.
As he expected, Lila waited at the lip of the cave. The beautiful waterfall cascaded into the aperture and into the earth below.
Jerry stared at her, unable to speak.
She glanced up at him and he steeled himself, expecting a cold rebuke. They had not parted well. He wouldn’t blame her if she hurled razor-stropped words at him. He would accept the hate gladly if it meant he could be in her presence one more time.
“I’ve been searching for you,” she said. “It’s taken me a year.”
His chest tightened as his heart swelled. He feared it might burst. “You’ve found me.”
She glared at him, agony in her eyes.
The words poured from him then, rushing out like the nearby waterfall. “I never should have let you go, Lila. I know that now. When you turned away, when you ran from me, I should have come after you. I haven’t slept since you left. I can’t eat. I…” He trailed off.
She clenched her fists and raised them in the air. “Why?”
Ice filled Jerry’s blood. “You want to know why I let you go?”
“No, you monster! I want to know where you buried my boyfriend’s body! I ran for the police that night, but when we came back, it was gone. I saw your face, but they wouldn’t believe me when I said you’d killed him.”
“The police will believe me now. I found out where you keep them.”
Jerry glanced down, down into the cave.
“There were so many,” Lila continued. “But Jack wasn’t among them. What did you do with him, you creep? Where is Jack’s body?”
When he rushed her, he didn’t see her draw the pistol from her purse. All he heard was the echo of her gunshot. He felt a jolt as the bullet pierced his body and then gravity seemed to abandon him. He sailed through the air and plummeted through the darkness. The air left his body when he hit the cave floor and the roar of the waterfall filled his ears. He lay broken among the bones of his victims, one thought repeating in his mind.
He never should have let her go.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Naching T. Kassa:
Crystal Lake Publishing proudly presents Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.
Edited by the Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Mercedes M. Yardley, Arterial Bloom is a literary experience featuring sixteen stories from some of the most compelling dark authors writing today.
With a foreword by HWA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Linda D. Addison, you are invited to step inside and let the grim flowers wind themselves comfortably around your bones.