Writer Wednesday #17: Snake Woman Picture

Writer Wednesday #17: Snake Woman Picture

A Story by Sarah J Dhue
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On my blog, I do an 'event' called Writer Wednesdays. I post a prompt and others(including me) write something based on that prompt.

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            It all started as a story.  That was all I thought it was.  But I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

            It was a story about a beautiful woman picking up men at the bar.  They would go to a hotel room and then she would reveal what she truly looked like; while she was still human, she was also part snake.  Then she would kill them.  Their bodies would be found the following morning.

            This is a story I heard while traveling.  My name is Tomlin, Tomlin Brown.  I am an auditor, which means I get to travel a lot.  I was in Tennessee, in a fairly small town I stopped in to spend the night on my way to Nashville.  I was enjoying a cup of coffee and a Southern biscuit when I overheard some men discussing a murder that had recently taken place.  They said it was the snake lady that got him.  Of course I was intrigued, so I asked what they meant by the ‘snake lady.’  They told me the story of the beautiful woman picking up men to kill them in the night.  I chuckled, thinking that was silly.  I heard all kinds of stories while traveling, but this one was a doozy.

            I was about to call it a night and head back to my hotel when a woman approached me.  She was very pretty; I would even say beautiful.  She had long flowing black hair, pale skin, and striking green eyes.  Her cheek bones were pronounced, and she had a slender face with a gorgeous thin smile.

            “Hi, my name’s Lindie.”  She did not have a Southern accent at all.  “Do you mind if I sit with you?  I was supposed to meet someone here, but he never showed up.”

            “Sure,” I replied, extending my hand, “I’m Tomlin.”

            “It’s nice to meet you Tomlin.  Are you in town for business or pleasure?”

            “Business…” I could not stop looking at her, she was literally mesmerizing.

            “I see… Nashville?”

            “Come again?”

            “We get a lot of people stopping here on their way to Nashville.”

            “Oh.  So this guy, he stood you up?”

            “Yeah,” she looked sadly at the floor, her cheeks turning a pale shade of pink.

            “That’s a shame Lindie, you seem like a nice and pretty girl.”

            She looked up at me, “You think I’m pretty?”

            “Yes… very much so.”  I could feel myself beginning to get hot and bothered; in other words, my pants were getting too tight.

            “We could get out of here.  I apparently don’t have any other plans tonight.”  She scooted her chair closer to mine and I could smell her sweet perfume.

            “Yeah, sure.  I’ve got a hotel room not too far from here.”

            “Then what are we waiting for.”

            I left a fat tip for the waitress and we walked out of the café and I hailed a taxi to take us back to the hotel.  As soon I closed the door to my room, she wrapped her arms around me, pulling me close to her, kissing me with those soft thin lips, her smell filling my nostrils and drowning out my other senses.  I remember her loosening my tie and beginning to undo the buttons of my shirt as I removed her shirt and struggled with her bra.  Her sweet smell drowned out everything but the feeling of her lips against mine, her tongue in my mouth, and her cool smooth hands on my body.

 

            When I woke up, I could hear the shower running in the bathroom and was in a state of ecstasy, almost as if I had been drugged, but I didn’t quite feel out of it or high.  I sat up and checked the bedside clock.  It was about 2:30 A.M.

            The shower shut off and after a few minutes she emerged from the bathroom.  I stifled a cry as she looked at me.  She was wrapped in a towel, but her skin had a strange pale green hue and looked almost scaly in places.  But the most stunning thing was her eyes, an even more vibrant green than I remembered, with slits for pupils instead of circles.

            I rubbed my eyes, even pinched myself.  But this was no dream.  That doozy I had heard at the café, about the snake lady… it was true.  And I had slept with her.

            “Don’t, don’t scream,” she said surprisingly calm for someone about to kill me.  Her eyes were filled with sadness as she slowly approached the bed.  I looked around frantically for something to grab to defend myself.  She sat down on the foot of the bed and it (crushed) down under her slender bottom.  She brushed back a strand of her black hair, scratching her scaly cheek.  Now, when I saw scaly, I don’t mean bumpy or rough.  I mean very smooth, just like a snake’s scales; if you have ever touched or even seen a snake, you know what I mean.  “I really like you,” she stared dejectedly at the floor, “don’t go.  The story is a lie.  I don’t lure men in so I can kill them.  I would spend an evening with them, then when they saw me for what I truly am, they would call me a monster.  Sure, I killed them… but it was to protect myself.  Not because I wanted to.”  She looked up at me, tears forming in the corners of her brilliant green eyes, “I don’t want to hurt you, Tomlin.”

            I sat there, stunned, and yet… I was no longer afraid.  For one, the night we shared had been wonderful, but I felt something for her.  My memories were finally coming back to me and I remembered all the things we had talked about: our childhood, my job, her hopes for the future.  She was not a bad person, as far as I could tell.  And right now, instead of recoiling from her, I wanted to console her.

            I slowly crawled across the bed until I was sitting behind her.  I reached up, gently resting my hand on the nape of her neck.  I felt her tense up and rested my face against hers, nuzzling into her hair and kissing her ear.  “I won’t try to hurt you,” I whispered, moving my hand along her back until it rested on her shoulder.  She turned to look at me, her green eyes searching my face.

            “You don’t think I’m a monster?”

            “No…”  I shook my head, looking deep into eyes.  Now that I was over the initial shock of seeing her like this, I realized just how beautiful they were.  She leaned in to me, kissing me, and I kissed her back.  “Come to Nashville with me,” I said quietly.

            “Hm?”  She looked at me, startled.  Her whole face was not scaling, mostly along her jaw and along the sides of her neck.  Most of her face was smooth human skin with a pale green hue.

            “I have to go and you asked me not to leave.  You could come with me.”  I couldn’t believe what I was saying, I had just met this woman, and yet I did not want to leave her side.

            “You really want me to come with you?”

            “Yes,” I smiled at her, “I don’t know what this is that I’m feeling, but I want to get to know you better,” my smile shrank a little, “if you don’t mind.”

            She gripped my hand, looking at me as if she was waiting for the punchline.  “Even after you know what I am?”

            I nodded, lying back on the bed.  “You’re a woman.  You’re just… different.”

            She smiled hesitantly, lying next to me on the bed.  “Tomlin…” she said, snuggling close to me, “this is like a dream… I don’t want to wake up.”

            “You won’t have to.”  I replied, kissing her forehead before drifting back off to sleep.

 

            The drive to Nashville was the most enjoyable I had had in a long time; it was nice to have another person for company and not just the DJ on the radio.  Before we had departed the hotel, Lindie had covered herself in very intricate makeup, even using some latex on her jaw and neck, as well as her arms, to hide the scaly texture of her skin.  She put in colored contacts to hide her slit pupil and if I didn’t know better, I would have thought she was just a normal woman.  But Lindie was anything but normal.

            She was beautiful and smart.  She was kindhearted, having donated time to several charities around the Tennessee and Kentucky area.  She had started to become lonely though, and that was when she started seeking companionship.  That was when the story of the snake lady had begun.  Any time she met a man and he saw without her makeup on, he had tried to kill her, leaving her no choice but to kill him in self-defense.  Lindie had always been different, she said, ever since she was a little girl.  Her parents had taken her to see several doctors and none of them could explain.  So they had turned to makeup and eye contacts to keep Lindie’s ‘condition’ a little secret.

            We arrived in Nashville with time to spare before my meeting, so we checked into the hotel and walked around downtown until we found a quaint little coffee shop and decided to stop in for an early lunch.  As we talked and laughed, as I watched her contentedly playing with the stirrer in her latte, I knew then that I loved her.  She was everything I had ever wanted, everything my life had been missing.  Not that I had a bad life: I made a pretty good living as an auditor and got to travel all over the US.  I had an amazing family, especially my sister’s daughter, my little niece Amy.  But much like Lindie, I had begun to get lonely; to crave companionship.  I would have never guessed I would find it in that small Tennessee town, let alone with the snake lady of lore.

 

            The next few days in Nashville were heaven.  I took her shopping at the mall, which I had never cared much for when I had been alone.  We walked along the city streets, talking and enjoying ice cream cones.  All that cheesy romance movie stuff, but it was special; unique.  Lindie made it seem magical, and not so clichéd.  I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to hurt her, snake lady or not.

 

            As we laid together in the hotel room during my last night in Nashville, I felt a knot forming in my stomach; the fear of rejection.  I turned to her, taking a deep breath, fearing I would not be able to speak due to the lump in my throat.  “Lindie,” she looked at me seriously, “I want you to come back to Chicago with me… meet my family.”

            “Really, Tomlin?”

            “Mm-hm,” I nodded, swallowing, “These last few days… well, these last few days have been heaven.  I want it to be like this forever.”  I took a deep breath, “I love you.”

            “Is this some kind of joke?”  She looked taken aback, suddenly cautious, like that first night in the small Tennessee town hotel.

            “No.  I know what I feel.  I’ve known it since I first met you.  I love you.”  I stroked her cheek.  “You don’t have to wear this makeup around me.  I think you’re beautiful.  I love you for who and what you are.”

            She closed her eyes, breathing deeply.  She opened her eyes, looking at me as they glistened with tears.  “You are the first person who has ever accepted me for what I am.  Even my own parents wanted me to hide… to forget that I was different; defective, as they put it.”

            “You’re not defective,” I sat up, leaning over her, “never let anyone tell you that.”  I kissed her, wrapping my tongue longingly around hers.  I had never been happier than I was then.

 

            Despite being from the Midwest, Lindie had never been to Chicago.  So when we arrived, everything that I saw as normal �" as home �" she saw as new and exciting.  I looked at my city, my world, with fresh eyes, saw riding the L as an adventure even though I did it nearly every day.  It took me back to the first time I had ridden it as a young boy and how exciting and fun it was.  I had thought it was as thrilling as a roller coaster.  Then I rode my first roller coaster and quickly learned that there were more thrilling things out there.  Yet now, it seemed like the most exciting thing I had ever experienced all over again.

            Before heading to my apartment, we stopped for a late lunch at a deep-dish pizzeria.  As the waiter sat down our pizza and I took my first slice, Lindie suddenly turned sullen.  “What’s wrong?”  I asked, reaching across the table and gripping her hand.

            “This… you, have been great.  But Tomlin…” she turned away, unable to look at me.  “I don’t want to ruin this for you.”

            “How could you ruin this?  You’re what’s made it perfect,” I squeezed her hand, smiling reassuringly at her.

            “But what about your family?  I’m different, Tomlin, we both know that.  And we also know people are not good at accepting people that are… different.”

            “I accept you.  Scales and all.”

            She finally looked back up me, smiling, but her eyes were still so sad.  “Yes, you do.  And I am so grateful for that.  But most people… they aren’t understanding, like you Tomlin.  They are afraid of what they don’t understand.  And then that fears turn to contempt and I have to go back into hiding again and-”

            I interrupted her, “You won’t.”  I leaned across the table, kissing her.  “Enjoy your lunch,” I gestured toward the pizza.  “When we get to my apartment, I will call my sister Samantha to let her know that I am home… and that I met someone.  I want you to meet her and her daughter, my niece, Amy.  I’m sure she’ll just adore you.”

            “You really think so?”  She began to loosen up again, taking a slice from the pan.

            “I know so.”

            We finished our pizza and walked to my apartment.  Lindie seemed to back to her typical, high-spirited self, and that made me happy.  I wanted her to feel comfortable in her own skin �" no pun intended �" and to enjoy herself as much as I was.  We rode the elevator up to my ninth floor apartment and I unlocked the door to my slightly overpriced studio apartment.

            “Welcome home,” I said, wrapping my arm around her slim waist and hugging her close.  “It’s not much, but it’s home.  I travel so much that I don’t really need much.”

            “It’s wonderful.”  She leaned against my chest, smiling at the barely-lived-in space before her.

            “Well you make yourself at home.  I am going to call Samantha and let her know I’m home.”  I paused, then rephrased, “That we’re home.”  She sat down on the sofa as I walked across the room to where the phone was, clicking the button for my messages to playback.  There were a few messages from solicitors and one from Samantha, which stopped halfway through since she remembered I was out of town.  I pick up the receiver and dialed her number.  It rang a few times and then she picked up.

            “Hello?”  She sounded frazzled and Tomlin could hear could hear crying in the background.

            “Hey sis… I’m home.  Er, is it a bad time?”

            “Tomlin!  Oh no no, it’s not a bad time at all.  Amy was just acting off, you know what they say about ‘terrible twos.’”

            I laughed huskily.  “Well then, if it’s an okay time, I have something to tell you.”

            “Wait- I want fair warning.  Is this good news or bad news?”

            “Good news.  You see, when I was in Tennessee, I met someone.  Her name is Lindie and… I think I’m in love, sis.”

            “Tomlin, really?  That’s wonderful!”

            I smiled, nodding even though I knew she couldn’t see me.  “I brought her back to Chicago with me, she’s here now actually.  I wanted to bring her over to meet you and Amy later, if that is okay for you.  I know Baxter is in Singapore for a few more weeks.”

            “Yeah, it’s gotten interesting without him being around.  But I knew it would be like this when I married a traveling man.  But sure, you bring her right over here for dinner in a few hours; I would love to meet her.”

            “Sounds good.”  I hung up the phone and turned back to Lindie.  “We’re going to Samantha’s for dinner in a bit.  But meanwhile,” I sat next to her on the sofa, “let me help you get settled in.”  I put my arm around her shoulders.

            “I just hope I can live up to her expectations.”

            “What expectations?  You’re smart and funny and sweet.  You’re beautiful.  What’s not to like?”

            She closed her eyes, wincing as if she were struggling to speak.  “I’m… I’m the snake lady.”

            “No you’re not.  You’re Lindie.  Don’t lose sight of that.  I love you with and without all the makeup.”  I stroked her cheek.

            “But what if she finds out?”

            “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  I wouldn’t mind if you cleaned all of that off and went just as you are.  But I know you wouldn’t want to do that…”

            “No… no, not yet.”

            “Then stop worrying.”  I kissed her, looking into her eyes.  “Let’s get read.  I’m sure Amy is just dying to meet you.”

            We left the apartment and I hailed a cab to take us to Samantha’s apartment building, which was across downtown.  During the cab ride there, I told jokes to make her smile and relieve some of the tension.  When we got out of the cab and got into the elevator in Samantha’s apartment building, she was smiling from ear to ear, even though I could tell she was nervous.  I marveled over how well I could read her body language, considering that I had only known her for a short time.

We stood outside Samantha’s apartment door for a moment before knocking.  “You ready for this?”  I said, holding her hand.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she smiled, but her eyes were still filled with worry.

I turned and knocked on the door.  Samantha answered shortly after; I half-wondered if she had been waiting by the door for us to arrive

            “Tomlin!  Welcome home!”  Samantha hugged me.  She actually had most of my features: dark brown hair, blue eyes, and long thin face.  She released me and looked past my shoulder.  “And you must be Lindie.”  She glided past me and hugged Lindie warmly.  Lindie reluctantly hugged her back.  Samantha pulled back, looking Lindie up and down.  “Well, you sure did pick a pretty one, Tomlin.  Come in, come in, tell me all about how you two met.”

            I smiled wryly; no way was I tell her all about it.  I followed Samantha in, holding Lindie’s hand as we entered the living room of the apartment.  Amy, my niece, a tiny blonde two-year-old, sat in the middle of the floor playing with her favorite toys.

            “Amy, look whose home; it’s your Uncle Tomlin!”  Samantha said excitedly, bending down and picking Amy up.  She giggled with joy at the sight of her uncle, reaching out for me.

            “Tomlin!”  She proclaimed joyously.  I am proud to say that ‘Tomlin’ is one of the first words she spoke when she first started talking.

            “Hey squirt,” I reached out, taking her from Samantha’s arms, “did you miss me?”

            “Yes.  Where you go?”

            “I went to Nashville to do some important business.  And, I got you a present.”  I reached into my pocket and brought out a little stuffed raccoon, “It’s Tennessee’s state animal.  Nashville is in Tennessee.”  She let out a happy squeal and took it from me, kissing its cute little nose.  She suddenly looked past me and seemed to notice Lindie for the first time.

            “Who that?”

            “That is Lindie.  She’s my girlfriend.”  Her eyes met mine as I said ‘girlfriend’ and smiled.  I smiled back at her.  “Can you say hi to Lindie?”

            “Hi Windie,”  she said.

            Lindie let out a laugh.  “Close enough.”

            “Do you want to hold her?”  I asked, turning toward Lindie with Amy.

            “Oh, I don’t know.”

            “Go right ahead,” Samantha encouraged her and Amy looked at her expectantly, clutching her cute little raccoon.

            “Okay.”  Lindie took her from me, smiling at her.  “Hi Amy.”

            “Windie!”  Amy repeated, hugged Lindie around the neck.  She looked so happy; I couldn’t help but keep smiling.

            We all sat down on the sofa, Samantha bursting with questions.  “So, did you two meet in Nashville?”

            “No, we met in a small town a few miles from Nashville.  She needed a ride there and I bought her dinner.  We kept in touch in Nashville… and I asked her to come back to Chicago with me.”

            “Oh my gosh, that is too sweet.  And you just knew like that?”  Samantha was giddy at how sweet our story seemed.  I left out the bit about how it had started as a one night stand.  Little Amy did not need to hear about that.  “So I hope you like pot roast.  That’s what I’ve got cooking in the kitchen.  It won’t be ready for a while yet, just wanting to make sure that’s okay.”

            “Yeah, it’s fine.”  Amy beamed up at Lindie, bouncing up and down with excitement.

            “So what do you do, Lindie?” Samantha asked.

            “Well, I’m currently unemployed, but I have worked a few waitress jobs here and there.  Nothing nearly as exciting as Tomlin’s job.”

            “Oh yeah, Tomlin and Baxter �" my husband �" get to travel all over the place for work.  Once Amy’s a little older, we’ll be able to go with him, but for the time being, traveling overseas with a two-year-old is hell.  Pardon my language.”

            “Oh, it’s fine.”  Amy suddenly stopped smiling and let out a tiny cough.  Then she threw up all over Lindie; vomit covered her hair, her face, and part of her shirt.

            “Oh jeez, I’m so sorry about that!  Tomlin, get Amy, I’ll go get some paper towels.”  Samantha rushed into the kitchen.  As I grabbed Amy, I saw Lindie wiping her eye and her contact came out on her finger.  She began to try to wipe some of the puke from her face, but some of her makeup began to come off with it.

            Samantha came back from the kitchen with a handful of paper towels, babbling on.  “That’s the thing about kids, you have to learn not to sweat messes, once you’re done with diapers, they spill damn near everything-” Lindie looked up at her and she stopped short.  They stared at each other a moment, one of Lindie’s true eyes exposed and part of her green scaly skin showing through.  “Hey… what’s wrong with your face?  Your-your eye…”

            “Samantha-” I started, but she had already dropped the paper towels and rushed over to me, taking Amy from me and back away toward the kitchen.

            “Tomlin, what is wrong with her!?”  She cried out more frantically, holding Amy close to her chest protectively.

            “Nothing is wrong with her.”

            “Look at her Tomlin, she has scales and green skin.  Not to mention that eye.”  Samantha looked appalled, continuing to back away toward the kitchen.  “You brought her here; let her be around my baby.  She’s a monster Tomlin!  What were you thinking?”

            “She’s not a monster!”  I stood defensively, balling my hand into a fist by my side.  “She’s just different.”

            “Tomlin, look at her!  Get her out of here!  I do not want that monster around my little baby.  She could have hurt her Tomlin, did you think about that?”

            “She wouldn’t hurt her, sis-”

            “You heard me, get that monster out of here!  I never want to see her again.  Do not ever bring her around my little angel again!”  Amy started crying because of all the yelling and I started dejectedly at the floor.  Lindie had not said a word.

            “Look, can we at least use your bathroom to clean her up before we leave?”  I asked in an even tone.  “Be reasonable, sis.”

            “Reasonable!?  Reasonable!  You brought a monster into my home and you want me to be reasonable?”

            I stood there a moment in utter shock, stunned by my sister’s insensitivity.  I turned to Lindie and I could see silent tears running down her cheeks.  I sat next to her, resting my hand on her arm.  “Come on Lindie, let’s go get you cleaned up.”  She continued to stare blankly ahead.  “Lindie.”  I swallowed, fighting my own tears.  I hated seeing her unhappy; my insides felt like they were being torn apart.  I took her hands in mine, pulling until she stood, and guided her into the restroom.  I could still hear Amy crying through the door as I started running the faucet and grabbing tissues to wipe Lindie off with, she finally spoke.

            “She called me a monster…”

            “Who cares what she thinks?”  I said, rubbing the wet tissues against her face.

            “Tomlin, she thought I would hurt Amy, I wouldn’t do anything like that.”

            “I know that.”  I rested my forehead against hers.  She continued to cry, shattered by my sister’s harsh words and actions.  “Don’t cry… I love you, Lindie.  Lindie,” I gently gripped her chin, pulling her face up so that she was looking into my eyes, “I said ‘I love you.’”

            She looked back into my eyes, breathing deeply, and then hugged my close.  “I love you too, Tomlin.  More than you could ever know.”

            We sat there for a while in silent embrace, savoring each other’s’ warmth.  “Come on.  I’ll finish cleaning you up and help you do your makeup.”  Once Lindie looked semi-presentable �" her shirt was still stained from puke �" we exited Samantha’s apartment.  She practically slammed the door behind us and I could not help but feel sorry for Amy.  Lord knows what nonsense Samantha would fill her head with about Lindie.

 

            A few days went by and we didn’t talk about the outburst at Samantha’s again.  She called my apartment once, leaving a message saying ‘not to bother coming around again until I had come to my senses.’  I erased it, more angry than hurt.  I went to work and Lindie generally stayed at the apartment until I got home in the evenings, when I would take her out for dinner and show her more sights around the city.  Once evening we sat on by Navy Pier watching the stars and pointing out the constellations to one another.

            About a week after Samantha’s ultimatum, we were just getting ready to lie down for the night when Lindie turned to face on the bed, sitting up.  “I can’t have children.”

            “What?”  I said, a bit taken aback.

            “I can’t have children.  Whatever… this,” she indicated her scales, “is, it’s made me so that I cannot have children.”  She began to cry.  “I saw how you were with Amy… I can never give you a family.”

            “Lindie, what is this about?”  I sat up, scooting closer to her.

            “I can tell it’s hurting you, Tomlin.  I’m not stupid.  Ever since… ever since your sister’s, you have not been happy.  I want nothing more than for you to be happy.”

            “No, that’s not true, I am happy.  You’re my family.”

            “No.  She is; she’s your sister, and Amy is your niece.  I’m just a girl you met in some random café in Tennessee.”

            “But you are so much more than that… Tomlin, I love you.  And that is why we can’t be together.”

            “What’re you saying?”

            “Kill me, Tomlin,” she looked up at me with a deadly serious stare.  I looked away; I didn’t like that look.  “As long as you are with me, I will always hold you back.  I will keep you from those you love.  As long as I am around, you can never see Amy again.  I don’t wanna live like this… I don’t want you to suffer for my sake.”

            “No.  I won’t do it.  You’re a person, a good person.  I love you; you’re all I need.”

            “You’re sweet Tomlin… too sweet.  Thank you for showing me that all humans are not terrible.”  She lay back on the bed, grabbing my wrists and pulling them down next to her neck.  “Kill me.  Wrap your hands around my neck and squeeze.”

            “You don’t know what you’re saying…”

            “I do!  I want to die.  I want to quit holding you back.  This is the only way…  I want this pain to stop… I want you to be able to live your life, the life you had before you met me.  To be with someone normal.”

            I could tell that she was not going to relent.  I looked into her beautiful green eyes, with the slit instead of circle pupil as I slowly wrapped my hands around her slender neck.  She continued to look up at me, smiling sadly.  I took a deep breath and tried to squeeze.  But I couldn’t.  I began to cry, tears running down my face, dripping off the tip of my nose onto her exposed chest.  My body physically would not, could not, hurt her.

            I released her neck, sitting back on the bed and breaking into uncontrollable sobs.  “I’m sorry Lindie… I can’t!” I sobbed, “I love you so much, I can’t hurt you.  Please forgive me…”  I felt her sit up, wrap her arms around me and kiss the top of my head.

            “Oh my God, what have I done?”  I heard her whisper.  “How could I ask you to do such a thing.  I was so busy wallowing in self-pity that I wasn’t thinking… I could never hurt you either, Tomlin.  That’s why I wanted you to… why I wanted you to… end it.”

            I looked up at her, resting my hand on the side of her neck and stroking her cheek with my thumb.  “I don’t want someone normal; I want you.”  I regained my composure and climbed off the bed, pulling on my pants.

            “What are you doing?”

            “Pack your things; we’re leaving.”

            “Where are we going?”

            “You’ll see; just pack your things.”

 

            I got my old Chevy Geo out of storage and drove off into the night.  I drove until sunrise, where we stopped in a hotel somewhere between Illinois and Kentucky.  Lindie continued to ask me where we were going, but I continued to keep it a secret.  If I told her, she might not come with me.

            As I said before, my job takes me all over the country.  I have been to New Orleans a time or two for work since Hurricane Katrina hit.  While talking to the locals, they told there were many old plantation houses that had just been abandoned after the hurricane.  Out of curiosity, I had spent one day driving along old swamp roads and found a few of these forgotten beautiful homes.  That was where we were going.  I would quit my job, I had more than enough to live on for the coming years, I made a lot of money and hardly ever spent it on anything; I had always lived a simple lifestyle.  We could hide from the world, where no one would judge her for being who and what she was.  It broke my heart to think that she had been treated this way her whole life, even by her own parents.  I thanked God that she had not committed suicide before I met her.

            We slept until nightfall and then hit the road again, this time driving clear through Arkansas and into Louisiana.  We stopped at a motel for a few hours and then at about noon we embarked on the final leg of our journey.  As we drove into the bayou, Lindie turned to me once more and asked where it was that we were going.

            “You’ll see,” I answered again; this had been the answer I had given every time she had asked and I could tell it was intriguing her; that despite her sadness, she was enjoying trying to solve the mystery.  Finally, an old plantation house came into view through the think spider moss and I pointed, saying, “See?”

            As she looked where I was pointing, her eyes widened and she turned to me, “There?”

            “Yes.  We can live here, together, away from the world.  We can avoid the people’s judgements; we can be happy.”

            “You would really do that for me?  Leave the whole world behind?”

            “I’d do anything for you,” I tightened my jaw, “accept kill you.  I can’t do that.”

            “Tomlin…”

            The inside was worn-down and overgrown, but with a little paint and some lawn equipment, it would be an easy fix.  I knew there was at least one good furniture store in town where I could buy our essentials; a bed, a couch, an ice box, a stove.  Lindie instantly fell in love with the house and we began our new life together.  Things were good.  It almost felt like those days we spent walking in downtown Nashville, like Lindie’s first L ride in Chicago.  We were happy.  Or so I thought.

            One day I awoke to Lindie not lying beside me.  I walked around the house looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found.  I looked out into the small garden I had attempted to revive, but she was not there either.  I walked back inside and that was when I saw the note stuck to the fridge by the only magnet we owned, a cartoony saxophone.  I walked over to the fridge and moved the magnet, taking the note in my hand.

            “Tomlin,

                        I want to start by saying I am sorry.  I am sorry for asking you to kill me; that was a selfish and terrible thing for me to ask you to do.  I see that now.  You are the best human being I have ever met and you have shown me some truly wonderful times.  For that, I am forever grateful.  But I cannot stay here with you.  I still am holding you back.  Your love is something I will always cherish and hold in my heart.  But I want you to go back to Chicago; back to your job, and your sister, and most of all Little Amy.  I left like this because I knew that if I said good-bye, you would follow me. I hope that you can find it your heart to forgive me… and then forget about me and move on with your life.  You are a truly good person, Tomlin.  Thank you for seeing me as more than a monster…

            Love, Lindie”

            I stood there in stunned silence, rereading the note several times until I felt my knees grow weak and I collapsed into the nearest dining chair.  She was gone.  She was truly gone.  I felt as if my heart was being ripped from my chest.  I ran back up to the bedroom and checked the closet; all of her things were gone.  I checked my phone for her number; it had been deleted and call history had been cleared.  I flipped through my phone gallery, searching for the photos I had taken of her on the L our first day in Chicago, but they were gone as well.  It was as if she had never existed, save for the letter in the kitchen and her sweet scent lingering on the pillow next to mine.

            I spent a few days in a depressed stupor, waiting around the house, hoping that she would come back even though I knew she would not.  That was one of the things I had liked about her; once she made her mind up, it was made up.  She had left me, thinking that was best for me.  And if her love for me was anywhere near as strong as mine for her, she would do whatever it took to do what was best for me.  I would’ve moved heaven and earth for her.

            I finally packed up my things and got into my Geo and drove back to Chicago.  I called ahead to Samantha, telling her I would need a place to stay until I found another apartment; that Lindie was gone.  She said it was about time I came to my senses and returned to reality and I didn’t have the heart to retaliate.  When I arrived at the apartment, I was greeted by a very happy Amy, which was one of the only things that helped sooth the pain I was feeling.

She hugged me, then looked around behind me and asked, “Where’s Windie?”

I told the truth, I told Amy that she was gone.  Baxter was in Italy, but Samantha stood in the doorway, smiling in approval.  However, it did my heart good to see that whatever nonsense she had filled Amy’s head with about Lindie, that Amy still cared if she was around.  She had always had a good heart; most kids do.  The trouble is keeping that as they grow up.  Surprisingly enough, I was able to get my old job back and began apartment hunting soon thereafter.

One day after work, I sat by the window sipping a cup of coffee, watching the hustle and bustle of downtown.  Samantha cam and sat beside me with a cup of green tea.

“I miss her so much…” I said quietly as the L went by over the jammed traffic.

“You’ll get past it.  She was no good for you, Tomlin.  It’s a good thing she left you.  I don’t know what you were thinking when you hooked up with that monster in the first place.”

“Don’t call her that.  She wasn’t a monster, she was just different.  I loved her…”  I turned to glare at Samantha.  “You are part of she why she left.  All those terrible things you said.”

“Good.  You don’t love her Tomlin; you’re obsessed with her.  You’re obsessed with her because of the fact that she was different.”

I continued to glare at her, then turned back to the window.  “You don’t know what I feel.”

I tried for months to return to my old life, but it was empty; lonely.  The only light was Little Amy and she grew bigger and smarter and kinder every day.  I had once thought that her mother, my sister, was where she had gotten that kindness from.  But her intolerance toward Lindie had showed me that Amy was just a kindhearted kid.

I finally made up my mind that I was going to find her, no matter what it took.  I could not keep living like this, without her.  Since I had gotten my job back as an auditor, I began traveling frequently again.  Everywhere I went, I would describe Lindie to bartenders, waitresses, and gas station cashiers, hoping that maybe they had seen her.  But the answer was always the same: ‘Sorry sir, but I haven’t seen anyone like that.’  I tended to leave out the part about her being green and scaly with slits for pupils.  I knew that she would be made-up anywhere she went.  Every no disheartened me, but I never gave up; I knew in my heart that I would eventually find her.  Or at least that was what I kept telling myself.

 

Finally one night in Jackson, Mississippi, I walked into a bar and she was right there in front of me.  Her hair had grown out longer since I had last seen her, but her face was unmistakable.  She stood behind the bar, mixing drinks.  For a moment I just stood there, staring at her in disbelief, hoping that this was not a dream, that I had really found her.

I finally got the courage to walk over to the bar.  She turned to me, “What’ll you hav-” but stopped in midsentence when our eyes met.  She stared at me for a moment, her mouth agape.  I stared back, taking in every detail of her face: her vibrant eyes, the curvature of her nose, her thin lips, her high and defined cheek bones.  “Tomlin…”

“I found you,” I smiled, not even bothering to fight the tears I felt welling up in my eyes.  She started to talk, but I held up my hand, “I understand why you left.  I really do… you only had the best intentions.  But I love you.  I have not been happy since you left.  I have been searching all over for you.  I reached into my jacket’s inside pocket and pulled out a small black box.  “I want to be with you… forever.  No matter what.  I have traveled all across the nation to ask you this,” I opened the box, revealing a golden ring set with a brilliant diamond, “will you marry me, Lindie?”

She stared at me, her expression impossible to read.  Her eyes slowly moved to the ring on my hand and her eyes widened.  My heart was beating out of my chest, sweat running down my forehead from anticipation and the Southern heat.  We sat there like this for what seemed like eons before she finally said, “Yes, Tomlin… yes,” and burst into tears.  I had not noticed that the whole bar had fallen silent until they all cheered as I put the ring on her finger and she leaned across the bar to hug me, kissing me for the first time in what felt like forever.

 

Now I am 82 years old and my wife Lindie just passed away a few days ago.  I am sitting down to recount all of this for the other light in my life, Amy.  I want her to understand everything that her mother kept from her, everything that I wanted to say but never could.  I want to start by saying that Lindie loved you, Amy.  She would have given just about anything to be a part of your life, but after that first incident, that was impossible.  Know that I love you as if you are my own daughter, and I am sorry that I was not around more.  I was either traveling or spending time with Lindie while I was home, especially when I returned from the trips she did not go on with me.

Sitting down to recount this has also made me realize something else.  I talked about specific memories that I had with her: meeting in the Tennessee café, walking through downtown Nashville, riding the L with her and it feeling like it was as exciting as the first time all over again.  Even the first time that we made love.  And this has made me realize something that I want you to know and remember for the rest of your days.  It’s not about all of the things that you do in your life; it’s about who you do them with.

© 2015 Sarah J Dhue


Author's Note

Sarah J Dhue
This is a very rough draft, thinking of including this in a short story collection. Opinions?

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Added on June 7, 2015
Last Updated on June 7, 2015
Tags: snake, woman, lady, picture, Writer Wednesday, writer, wednesday, fiction, creative, Sarah J Dhue, Dhue

Author

Sarah J Dhue
Sarah J Dhue

In the author's lair, IL



About
I am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author, as well as a photographer & graphic designer, currently going to school for web design. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My f.. more..

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