The very day they moved in together, Suzie suspected it may have been a terrible mistake.
She rationalised: perhaps Steve’s rage was no more than a reaction to the stresses of the day, and later, while he offered no apology, no residue of his anger remained.
However, by the end of the week Suzie had seen that all the claims Steve had made about his political leanings were lies, and he despised her compassion, her ethics and her honest ways. He had played on her trust simply in order to win her affection.
Within the month his jealous acusations and inexplicable tantrums made her twitch when she was in his proximity, and in narrow spaces she backed out of his reach, but he didn’t notice.
Before the year was out, she was pregnant, and Steve stepped up the pace, inventing ever more games to belittle and shame her, carefully aiming his slights, always out of the sight of family and friends who continued to think well of him, so no-one believed her complaints.
By the time the baby was born, two phrases had become commonplace: “It was a misunderstanding” and “You’re over-reacting,” but they both knew that it wasn’t and she wasn’t.
Steve had erased all of Suzie’s faith in herself and replaced it with a cringing terror of change, and a belief that she was a pathetic thing, incapable of anything useful, ugly and unappealing.
She remembered the start of their romance – it had felt so real, had been so all-absorbing, and she could not empty out the vessel that had contained such passion. Gradually, as the warmth dripped out, it was replaced with something akin to hatred, but hatred felt wrong, following on from what preceded it. Suzie denied the emotion, telling herself she still loved him.
And from that chemical mix of misunderstanding, obsession was born. She needed to make Steve love her again – she had to – everything depended on it.
She changed the style of her hair, wore make-up for the first time since they had met. She could special meals and showed more affection. He said she looked like a doll, like a whore, told her to stop pawing him, to cease trying to poison him.
At his request, she redecorated the house, built shelves, custom-fitted a new kitchen, then turned to the garden, digging and planting, all to no avail. after doing nothing to help, he said she demasculated him. At this point she realised he was sick in some indefinable way. He didn’t love her but he required her presence as a verbal punch bag.
The more she tried, the better his games became, and she shrank until her edges dried and crinkled, and she could feel herself receding, leaving nothing but that need, that hateful need to make him love her, and she always failed.
Suzie knew she should leave, but she felt too weak. She believed Steve when he said she couldn’t bring up their child without him.
Enter the singer, with her grasping need to steal men to make her feel successful. There was history here: many years before, Suzie had possessed something of which the Singer was not worthy, and the singer detested her for it. Steve, too, had known singer for many years, and they played out a cruel game of mutual adoration whenever Suzie was present.
Suzie knew it was merely a form of attack on her, but she could take no more, and suddenly she came face to face with her true feelings for Steve.
She knew she would not rest until she had his heart on a string. It was what he deserved, and this time she would win the game. She knew just what to do.
The next morning, when the police broke in, having been alerted by concerned neighbours, they found Suzie and Steve’s one-year old daughter standing in her cot, screaming at the top of her lungs.
Music was blaring from the master bedroom. The police entered cautiously, to find Suzie sitting on the bed, gently smiling as she sang along to Galagher and Lyle’s “I wear my heart on my sleeve.” Her left arm was raised, and a bloody pendulum hung from a stained string, tied at her scarlet wrist. With her right hand she rythmically pushed it, and watched it swing. On the floor were several bloody tools, including a carving knife and three saws of different sizes. Beside her on the bed lay the fresh remains of a man, staring vacantly at nothing, with a gaping hole hacked into his chest.
Suzie stopped singing. Her eyes roamed the walls, the floor, the windows, as if for the first time taking in the sight of blood everywhere, but she was not perturbed.
She leaned towards the closest of four policemen who stood just inside the door, momentarily shocked into stillness, and in a confidential tone she whispered “I usually make an effort to look nice for Steve, but there’s no need any more, because I’ve finally captured his heart.”
Between the smears of dried blood which clung to her face, she blushed prettily.
Written in response to The Daily Post Prompt #Obsessed
©Jane Paterson Basil