A short story.
He drank red wine with Diet Coke. He said it was a thing back in the day. Younger people wrinkled their nose at it. But what did they know? They drank just to get drunk. They didn’t enjoy it the same way.
He had once been handsome. He still had all the same features, but no hair. This made a huge difference, somehow.
That, and his nose and ears didn’t seem to stop growing.
He was fine with that.
He watched his girlfriend cook for him. They were never going to get married. She kept hoping. She kept doing things for him. But the more she did for him, the more he resented it.
It felt like he owed her. Like he owed her something he had never wanted to give her, never intended to give her. And she just kept staying and hoping.
He hated the hope. It turned into something else. Expectation.
And, for some reason, he always had a problem with that. With being expected to do something.
He sat on his hammock. He took a nap.
He woke up in pain. He had slept on his neck all wrong.
His girlfriend was gone.
On the floor, where she had been cooking, was just a black puddle.
He panicked. Something must have happened to her. She wouldn’t have made a mess like this and then left, not unless it was important. But she hadn’t woken him up? She woke him up to kill a spider. She would have woken him up if she had injured herself.
He examined the puddle. What was that? Blood? No. It was darker than blood.
He left it. He didn’t want to clean it up. He didn’t know what it was, or if it was important somehow. If she had been abducted, it could be evidence.
He called the police but she had not been missing for long enough to file a police report. They did not seem concerned about the black puddle.
“Maybe she went to the store to get something to clean the mess,” an officer surmised.
He hung up. He went back into the kitchen. He looked into the black puddle.
He saw his own reflection.
He looked around the kitchen for a clue. Everything looked immaculate. She cleaned even the trim around the floor.
He ran his finger over the countertop. Not a speck of dirt. His heart raced. He opened the refrigerator. It was empty except for wine, Diet Coke, and butter. He opened the freezer.
It was packed with meat.
He slammed it shut.
He looked over at the black puddle.
It looked bigger.
“Why would she leave?”
“I don’t know.”
He didn’t think she had left. He thought she had somehow packaged her own body into meal-sized portions and stuffed them into the freezer. But he couldn’t say that.
That sounded crazy.
“Were you fighting?”
“No. Everything was fine. We never fought.”
He was on the phone with his ex. A stupid move, maybe, but she had always been the one to break down strange female behavior for him. In fact, that was why they had broken up.
“I think it’s because I didn’t want to get married.”
“Did she ever talk about marriage?”
“No. But isn’t that what all women want?”
“Did you ever talk about what the expectations were for the relationship?”
“So you have no clue what she wanted, or what she was expecting?”
“No, not really. I just wanted it to last for as long as possible, I guess, until she got sick of me.”
“I guess you got what you wanted.”
And the worst part — He was getting hungry.
He poured himself some wine and Diet Coke.
Then he went out to the bar.
He ate bar food. He wasn’t going to cook whatever was in the freezer. He wasn’t going to clean up whatever was on the floor.
Everything he ate tasted like copper. Tasted like biting into a penny.
The chicken fingers, the nachos, the fries.
They all tasted like blood.