• PJ Sherman

Click!

Buzz.


I ignored it.


Buzz.


I rolled my eyes and flipped the phone over. I could resist its bee impression, but the flashing light was too much.


Buzz.


Buzz.


Buzz.


I slammed my pen down. Tea sloshed around the mug. Eyes widening, I willed the dark liquid to remain in its ceramic prison. Another mess to clean up was not what I needed now.


The incessant buzzing broke its routine as I flipped the phone onto its back. It was rewarding me for not going too long without a social media fix. There were five messages. FIVE.

It was Pete. Why Pete? My thumb hovered over the unlock button. Had it got hotter in here?


Click.


Unlocked.


Sweat snaked down my forehead, pooling above my eyebrow. The mug was at my mouth, lips slurping as I took a gulp. Tea tasted terrible cold.


Buzz.


I stared at the notifications. They weren’t going away.


The slider moved across the screen with the slightest of resistance, the behaviour of a puppy when brought to the vet.


Click.


Opened.


A wink face.


Click. Click. Click.


Back went my reply.


Hey Pete – you okay?


Buzz.


Thumbs up. Another wink face.


Click. Click. Click.


Why do you keep winking?


The screen dimmed as I waited. And waited. The three dots to say he was writing flashed up, then disappeared. Then flashed. Then disappeared.


Click. Click. Click.


I sent a solitary question mark. I stared at my phone. Again, the screen grew dim. By the end of the night I would have no fingernails left.


The three dots again.


I fanned my face with a textbook. I had to take a layer off. The jumper hit the opposite wall with a thud. I didn’t want to miss the reply.


“Honey, are you okay? I heard a noise.” Mum’s sickly-sweet voice wafted through the door.


My nose crinkled.


“Yes Mum. Fine!”


“Okay, tea won’t be long.”


I gave my Mum the two fingered salute. She was always interrupting. Never any peace in this house.


Buzz.


Didn’t put you down as a PE girl…


Buzz.


Another wink face.


I couldn’t take another layer off. I rushed over and yanked open the window and sat on the sill, furiously typing.


Click. Click. Click.


What do you mean? Pete, you’re being a weirdo. Like, stop it now.


The three dots. Oscillating across the screen, enjoying the torture they dished out. You never knew when they were going to strike. When the three dots stopped bouncing, you would either feel great joy, sadness or fear. Like a cruel game of spin the bottle.


Buzz.


Sad face. Is that why you never dated me? You prefer older men?


Fortunately, pillows were there to soften the blow as the phone catapulted across the room.


Buzz.


Buzz.


Buzz.


I started to pace. Pacing jogged the mind, made the juices flow. The breathing techniques helped.


Breathe in…


My eyes wouldn’t stop looking over. I was an addict.


Breathe out…


Breathe in…


It was no use. I had to face this. What did Pete know? A step on the stairs creaked. My pacing stopped.


“O-K Mum. Stop spying on me!”


Silence. I paused, finally able to breathe normally.


“Okay honey. You don’t want your tea to go cold.” The stair creaked again. I resumed my pacing. I went back to my desk and opened the laptop, switching between various social media accounts. There were no posts, no videos, no pictures. Pete’s profiles were littered with cat memes. And he wondered why I always said no.


Buzz.


The inner cobra in me danced about the bed, as I waited for the opportune moment to strike.


Now.


I grabbed the phone and unlocked. 4 messages. Mainly emojis. I shouldn’t have picked it up. There was a picture message. Mr Fairchild and I looked so cute together. It was a shame really. Was Pete stalking me? My fingers set the screen on fire.


Click. Click. Click.


How did you know?


The three dots.


Thought you’d gone cold on me.


Click. Click. Click.


Were you stalking me?


The three dots.


Always. Wink face.


The three dots.


Do you like the scenes in all those horror movies where the hot chick is in her bedroom and the killer is in the wardrobe?


My eyes were on the wardrobe, searching for any movement. Without losing focus, my fingers tapped again.


Click. Click. Click.


Not funny.


The three dots.


Neither is this.


A picture message.


My hand went straight to my mouth to stop the scream. I felt like I was going to throw up.


No one except Mr Fairchild and I knew about my secret getaway. He always thought it cute that I’d painted it sunshine yellow. The surrounding ferns provided ample protection for our midnight frolics.


The three dots.


I know what you did. I want something from you.


The three dots.


Smiley devil face.


The three dots.


Come alone. Now. I’ll be waiting.


There was no time for a jacket as the back door slammed behind me, my Mother’s complaints a distant memory as I hammered my bike’s pedals with every bit of force I could muster. What I needed was there. It was still there from before.


Click. Click. Click.


Where are you?


The autumnal breeze blew the honey-coloured leaves across the front of the sunflower cabin, the stench of lavender causing me to wretch again as my head turned left and right, waiting for a sign of Pete. The lavender was a great touch though. Very strong odour.


The three dots.


Boo.


A hand caressed my shoulder, sending shivers down my spine. I dropped my bike and spun around. Pete’s face was closer to mine than Kanye West was to Kim. Even the lavender couldn’t disguise what came from the pit of death called a mouth of his. I recoiled. He grabbed me by the elbow.


“I saw you and Mr Fairchild.”


“And? What of it?” I struggled. He wore that tatty Rugby jacket, hiding the bulk underneath.

His grip was solid, my bones felt like they were dismantling.


“You’re hurting me…”


The darkness in his eyes started to fade as the pupils grew larger. He looked down. A flush of pink in his chubby cheeks. Time for the cobra to strike.


“I’m sorry. I just really like you.”


“What exactly did you see Pete?” He didn’t look up, thrusting his phone into my hand.

Someone turned on my emotion tap as the fear drained, my estranged confidence returning. There were only pictures of a brief embrace between me and Mr Fairchild. Nothing here that would reveal the insidious truth. I looked back at Pete.


“Go home.”


His emerald eyes brimmed with tears. A giant baby really. Too simple to understand life. My natural instincts were screaming at me as I placed my hand on his shoulder. A little bit of comfort would work. It did. He smiled and nodded.


As he turned to walk away, I breathed a sigh of relief and moved back to my bike. There was dirt all up the handle.


Click.


I froze.


That was the cabin door.


I gave him the opportunity. It was the only choice I had.


“Go in Pete.”


“What’s in there? It smells…” His arm shielded his nose as he poked the door open further.


“Go in Pete.” I repeated, more forcefully.


He took a step forward. What I needed was inside. He took a second step – he was inside. I stalked behind him, my slight frame making no noise on the crunchy leaves beneath our feet. The bag was just inside the door. It was in arm’s reach.


I stretched.


He took a few more steps forward.


“Oh. The smell. It’s like…”


“Rotting flesh?” I giggled.


He stopped dead. Too late. He had seen Mr Fairchilds. Lifeless. Blank stare. Cracked skull.


"What…happened…?”


“I told him to leave her. I loved him. She didn’t. I deserved him. She didn’t. Too late for him now. And you...”


I felt the cold metal in my hand and gripped hard. It came down once, twice, thrice…I lost count. There was just a lot of Pete around the cabin. Turns out he had a brain after all.


The oil sloshed about in the can as I shook it vigorously, ensuring both bodies were covered in the stuff. There could be no evidence. I had been accepted into to Cambridge after all.

The feel of the lighter was so empowering. Its flame was entrancing as it danced on the spot, goading me to finish the act. I did. The cabin started to roar and the heat was unbearable. I moved back to my bike.


There was a murmur. A muffled voice. Familiar. I searched the clearing. There was a light in the distance.


My phone.


I reached down. A picture of Mum grinning greeted me. She had been on the phone for at least ten minutes.


“Mum?”


“You need to get home. Now.”


I turned to face the inferno and smiled. I would deal with Mother next. What a fun night this was turning out to be.

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©2020 by PJ Sherman