Writing Challenge: For You
by Cooper Young
Fine. Fine fine FINE. I got stuck in a hurricane, alright? I had this mostly done by Halloween night, and then I did some smoothing during one of the flights home, and then when I reread it I decided it belonged in the stove. You know how I am. So, here’s my second attempt, a reconstruction of all the more gooder parts from memory. If I forgot something, it means that part was forgettable, right? I think this is a bit better. I’m still a bit rusty, though. I really need to get back into doing these.
Five minutes ago, I had the urge to look at it again. I resisted. I shoved the case into the back of the top drawer of my desk, locked it in, took a deep breath, and remembered that I found it in the exact same place in my uncle’s desk.
His had been locked too. He’d been missing for five years the day I broke it open.
And when I realized that I decided the best thing I can do is leave you this. If he looked again, I’m lost; the professor was a stronger man than I. He left me nothing.
Well, not nothing. He left me the desk. Sort of. He and my aunt never had kids, and I was his favorite nephew, and Aunt Jadie was tired of his crap sitting around the house. She knew he wasn’t coming back. She didn’t think he was dead, just run off with some woman. It always sounded like she had an idea of who she was, too.
So when I found the picture, I assumed it was of her, whoever she was. A picture of a woman–a naked woman, too–in a locked case in the back of a locked drawer; there was nothing else to think. “For you” was engraved in the silver next to the clasp. I liked that. It was secure; she didn’t have to shout his name to the world. He knew who he was.
I think it was the words that got me. “For you”. Most of my brain shouted that “you” was my uncle. The rest…
The woman in the photograph is sitting in a Savonarola chair, brushing her hair with her back to the camera. You can just see her face, looking back over one shoulder. She’s smirking. I didn’t like that the way I liked the inscription. It made me jump the first time I saw her.
I jumped again when she put her arms around my neck from behind. Gently, that time. Gently maybe the first five times I looked. I could feel her hanging on me like a weight, even if I couldn’t see her.
She was less gentle after that.
She slipped her arms around my waist.
Under my clothes.
Under my skin.
Last time she grabbed hold of something deep inside me, something I didn’t understand but I missed for an instant. Sunk her claws and her teeth into it, stuffed it inside herself so I can’t have it back. The pain stopped quickly, but I was aware of the strangeness of it all for the first time in five years. I asked her who she was. I asked her what she wanted. She smirked at both questions, and I felt something like a shock run through the space in me she’d emptied. I asked her why she was here.
And I don’t like that anymore, but it still feels secure. Secure like a noose around my neck.
They don’t make a lock that can beat it.