by Kayla Miller
“What’s the matter, baby?” He taunts, slowly prowling the living room. He’s a jungle panther with metal claws ready to slice open my jugular, and he’ll try anything to wrench out my heart since I’ll never give it to him.
My brown, yellow sun-face peeks over the leather couch like a scared child in hiding, waiting for his meteorite of a fist to bring a blue, purple dusk again. His hunting gaze is more than malicious and more than malign, a force equal to the intense greed of a black hole, and he’s yearning to suck me up.
I mustn’t let him find me.
“I’m not going to hurt you, I’m not going to hurt you.” He chants, but the promise, faulty, dissipates before entering the air.
That man, my husband, is a broken man. He’s a bitter skeleton full of sunken dreams, and somewhere along his timeline he picked up enough aggression to fuel a world war. I’m a steady, breathless punching bag who absorbs all of his heat, and he’ll continue to dig my grave so he doesn’t have to dig his own.
“God help me,” I pray. Because I’ve seen dungeons no one has seen, and I carry chains around my good memories. But I say—and you can celebrate my words—I say, “When I see them again, I’ll be dining in Heaven.”
He told me a long time ago that humans only hit from the deep, dark places of their souls, “And you bring those places out of me,” he said.
“You’re nothing. Don’t know why I ever chose you,” he hisses, and I mustn’t open my mouth to remind him that it’s I who chose him. He’d find me and knock me into a hazy tunnel.
Something bad is coming—I can feel it in my bones. The good Lord keeps me lingering on the coast of life and death.
“You’d better show yourself!” The panther growls, and I cringe at the elastic sound of death in his tone.
I’ve got to escape him.
I crawl across the Red Sea carpet, stand up, and sprint towards the front door, hoping the water doesn’t catch up to me and crush my body.
But it does.
I feel his claws dig into the back of my scalp. My hair follicles scream in resistance to the pull of his being. I breathe in, falling to the ground, and all I see are red and white waves.
I wake up—my vision is met with rays of light, and my body is floating in the air above a jungle. I shift through the air, sounds of wildlife filling my ears. Finally, my feet meet the cool rich terrain. Powerful smells permeate my senses—smells that could only resemble celestial bodies—like the sun and moon made love, producing a garden of lavender-citrus children.
I don’t know where I am or why, but then I see pure teal waters nearby and memories flood back to me.
I panic—looking around me I’m afraid something will jump down from the trees and hurt me.
I wait—fearing and fearing, but there is nothing vicious in this place. I know where I am now, and there are no jungle panthers here.
I sigh a lament of relief, sprint towards the pure teal waters, and dive into peace where the Lord’s liquid hands heal my bruises forever.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student