Cornelia wasn’t able to blink. She had been trying for several minutes, but to no avail. It
was like her eyes had been taped over, bound by a semi-clouded piece of black plastic. She felt the room spinning with every attempt to free her eyes. The spinning quickened with each try. A dull ache was starting to form across over the bridge of her nose. Cornelia lifted her arms to her face. She felt a piece of gauze taped over her eyes. Her heart began to pound, her breath accelerated. She had no idea where she was; she tried feeling around her, but she seemed to be groping at air. Nothing was in her reach, other than the surface on which she was sitting. She heard a strange sound, like something that would have come from a wounded animal. She turned her head in the direction the noise traveled from, and heard soft sobs. The animal like noise rang out again; the sobs, now louder, she realized were coming from her.
“Hello,” she ventured. Sitting in the dark, Cornelia waited for a reply.
He could see her sitting in her old white thermal, the one with the small red and pink flowers. Her back perfectly straight, legs stretched out ahead of her. Her hair, half pulled back, held by something that seemed to be medical instrument. Patches of dried blood blended in with the pattern, and created a pull in Garrett’s stomach. He wanted to go to her, to tell her he was sorry, but he couldn’t. The damage was done, and there was nothing that he could do to make this any better for either of them, but least of all her. A slideshow of texts, letters, and emails was projected on the wall behind her. “It hurts me to see what she does to you, Garrett,” Cornelia’s text from summers past flashed on the wall. He knew why now. Unlike Cornelia, Garrett had been here a lot longer. He had lost track of time, but any amount of time here was too long for anyone.
Garrett looked across the room through the broken glass partition. He watched as Melissa began unlocking the door to Cornelia’s room. A gurgling howl erupted as he shifted his weight. Melissa’s high bleached blonde ponytail cut through the air as her head whipped around toward Garrett. Her mouth formed an ugly sneer as she bat her fake eyelashes at him. Garrett tried to cry out a warning, another ghastly noise escaped him. There was no way Cornelia would know what he was trying to tell her — his words came out more maimed and mangled than his remaining piece of tongue and broken jaw.
Cornelia heard the horrific noise again, this time louder.
“Hello,” panic ran through her words as she tried again for a reply.
“Hello, Cornelia,” a woman’s voice responded. The voice sounded removed and unforgiving, almost shrill, but familiar.
Cornelia slowly shifted her weight, crossed her legs underneath her, and sat up straighter. It was as though she was in trouble for an unthinkable crime. It was the coldness in the woman’s voice that unnerved Cornelia. Her sight and memory were seemingly gone, but doctors, medics, even miracles could help with that – there was little that could be done to protect anyone from a heartless woman.
Before this woman had spoken, Cornelia had thought maybe there was an accident. She wasn’t wearing her engagement ring or her necklace. Her shoes had been removed as had her jeans. All things they removed from the victim at an emergency scene. The room felt cool and there were those stiff blankets, like the kind from her lady doctor’s office on the bed. It was possible, that an accident or something tragic and unexpected had happened until the woman’s hard voice shattered Cornelia’s fantasy. Her tone wasn’t one of a doctor or nurse, not even a psychologist could speak with such clinical disdain. For the first time in Cornelia’s life, she was beginning to hope that she had caused a fatal accident. Heartbreak could do a lot to a person, especially the person responsible for the loss. Cornelia tried to focus on her last memory… Joe. What if Joe was here too? What if Joe hadn’t survived?
“Cornelia,” the woman spoke again this time snapping her fingers, “Pay attention. I’m going to take your vitals now.”
“Where’s Joe? Was it an accident,” Cornelia’s voice was barely a whisper. Her fears were seemingly confirmed. A chill passed through Cornelia as the woman lifted Cornelia’s wrist with her ice cold hands. The woman’s fingers pressed into Cornelia’s flesh as she checked her heart rate. After, the woman pulled a sleeve up Cornelia’s arm and took her blood pressure.
“This was no accident,” the woman spoke in the same heartless tone, “have you ever heard of karma?”
The pen scratched the paper as the woman jotted down some notes. Cornelia listened as the almost inaudible footsteps moved further from and closer to her. She should be panicking, kicking, screaming, anything to escape this insane situation. She couldn’t. She knew that voice. There was always hope in knowledge, Joe taught her that. If she knew, she could prepare. So instead, she continued to sit and listened as various drawers opened and closed. It sounded as though the woman was looking for something. Suddenly everything was still, and the woman erupted into a fit of giggles.
Cornelia’s heart stopped.That laugh. She recognized that shrill, high pitched, manic laugh. Panic coursed through her body. The steps were ever so softly returning, closer and closer. The woman picked up Cornelia’s arm once more and fed it into the sleeve.
“Please try to relax Cornelia. The worst is over, and to be perfectly blunt you’re fucking up your blood pressure.”
“What’s happening,” Cornelia began, “please just tell me.” Whatever strength or fight Cornelia intended to find or use had left with the laughter. The fact was she couldn’t see, didn’t remember, and was being cared for by a sociopath. The only knowledge she gained was the fact that she was in the losing position.
“Right now, your blood pressure if skyrocketing. If you meant what is happening in general, I’m attempting to teach you a lesson.”
“A lesson? For what,” Cornelia stammered.
The woman shut the machine off, and picked up the item she had found in the drawer.
“This,” the woman said, shoving a heavy piece of card stock in Cornelia’s hands.
Cornelia felt the paper. It was about the size of a photograph, with four sharp corners and wavy sides.
“We’re going to play a game, I know how much you love those,” the woman began, “first round, guess what’s in your hand?”
“Common now,” the woman prodded, “you must have spent hours curled up on the floor with your trashy friends, drinking cheap champagne, making each one rustically perfect.”
“It’s our save the date. Mine and Joe’s,” Cornelia said somberly.
“You’re a smart little bitch,” the woman said patting Cornelia on the head. “Now, for the rest of the game. I ask you questions, you give me honest answers. If you lie to me, or twist the truth, I will destroy every last piece of you,” the woman said in a bubbly, yet shrill tone, “do you understand that?”
Cornelia shook her head unable to speak. Yes, Melissa.
Garrett watched as Melissa paced around Cornelia. The two seemed to be talking. Melissa, though usually enraged and violent within these walls, was calm and almost happy to be talking to Cornelia. Two and a half hours later, Melissa attempted to hug Cornelia and walked out of the room.
“I have to admit,” Melissa stated as she walked into Garrett’s room, “I know I’m the ‘sociopath’ in the room, but you fucked that girl up.”
Garrett looked at Cornelia through the glass and back at Melissa.
“I’m inclined to think that if ever loved you at all, I would do so more because of the things you did to her,” Melissa said shaking her head, grinning from ear to ear. Turning on her heel she began walking toward her closet of supplies. “You know she loved you, right?”
Garrett felt a tightness in his throat. Loved me?
“She didn’t tell you – get this – because she respected our relationship, even knowing that I was fucking Niles or whoever it was at the time,” Melissa continued pontificating while looking for the right tool. The tightness moved to Garrett’s chest. All those times he tried to tell her, and every time she rejected him, it wasn’t because she didn’t care about him… it was because she loved him. She respected him. Pain coursed through Garrett’s body. Over the past week Melissa has removed both of Garrett’s arms, cut out his tongue, and dislocated his jaw, and for a second it paled in comparison to break his heart had just endured.
“You were right by the way, she didn’t send you that save the date card,” Melissa said walking closer to Garrett. Melissa squatted down to his eye level, “I did.” Garrett glared at Melissa, you fucking bitch.
“Now,” Melissa said approaching Garrett, “hold still, or don’t, but one of these is coming with me,” she said pulling down his gym shorts and cupping his nuts. Garrett began to squirm in a futile attempt to escape Melissa’s next move. Blood curdling cries of pain sailed through the air reverberating against the walls. With his body’s pain threshold shattered, Garrett’s vision blacked out as his body shook in shock on the cement floor.
Cornelia didn’t know where Melissa went, and she didn’t really care. Her game had brought up every beautiful and painful moment of her friendship with Garrett. The complications, the flirting, and the conversations that eventually destroyed everything. Melissa and Garrett had been dating almost a year – right before she met Joe. Cornelia doubled over and put her hands in her face. They were getting married in a few weeks and she would never be able to actually see him again.
Another sound, this one of despair, interrupted Cornelia’s thoughts. She lifted her head, turning it to the direction of the noise. She wondered if it was Garrett, and what exactly Melissa was doing to him. The girl was smart. Psychotic, but smart. She had copies of deleted texts from Garrett’s current and old phones. She stole Cornelia’s save the date card from their mutual friend Ethan’s house and mailed it to Garrett. Her plan had been to cause him pain, but instead he told Melissa how excited he was to go, how happy she and Joe looked. It had been three years since she and Garrett had stopped talking and his ambivalence to her still stung. Worse, because of how indifferent he was to Cornelia, Melissa kidnapped her and took out her fucking eyes. Cornelia shivered as she remembered Melissa’s laughter while explaining, “I did you the favor of a lifetime honey, now you don’t have to see me cause Garrett anymore pain. Ever. Again.”
Melissa finished cleaning up and looked out over to Cornelia. Her head buried in her hands, her long, beachy hair cascading over her shoulder. She was categorically beautiful, logically it made sense what Garrett had seen in her. Her eyes had been stunning to examine. Melissa wasn’t actually a sociopath, she could feel things. For example, she was glad it didn’t work out for Cornelia and Garrett. Cornelia deserved someone like Joe. Someone who was capable of giving her his whole heart and not just the shreds of it marred with damage. Just like Melissa deserved someone like Niles. Tall, handsome, Dr. Niles. Dr. Niles who made the list of Top 100 Up and Coming Ophthalmologists in America. Dr. Niles who was more in tune with what a girl like Melissa needed, regardless of how dirty the deed.
Cornelia heard a thud, followed by the soft sound of Melissa’s feet.
“Put out your hands Cornelia,” Melissa said sternly.
Cornelia did as she was told. Something warm and sticky was dropped in them.
“Feel it,” Melissa directed, “tell me what you think it is.”
“Oh God,” Cornelia said, one of my eyes, as she moved the object in her hand, “I’m gon-” Melissa grabbed a nearby bedpan and put it under Cornelia’s mouth as she began to vomit.
“That is Garrett’s right nut,” Melissa said when the throwing up had subsided. “Unlike you, I don’t want children and Garrett was given a choice: me or you.”
Cornelia could hear the smile in Melissa’s voice.
“He chose me,” Melissa said condescendingly, “to make it count, I told him I’d have to remove his both his balls – the left one will be done shortly.”
Cornelia sat doubled over, frozen trying to process what she was hearing.
“I gave him a chance to reconsider,” Melissa continued, “but he still chose me.”
Melissa reached over with her right hand, and took the testicle from Cornelia. With her left hand she grabbed the underneath of Cornelia’s hair and pulled her head back, shoving Garrett’s mutilated nut into her mouth. Cornelia coughed and gagged.
“Remember this moment bitch,” Melissa added pulling Cornelia’s hair further back, “if I let you live and you ever come near either of us again, I will feed you every inch of your fiance’s body until you both die.”
Smiling to herself, Melissa released Cornelia’s head. Walking toward the exit, Melissa chuckled as Cornelia threw up on herself.
Garrett could barely breathe. He had been fading in and out of consciousness since Melissa removed his testicle. He could sense someone was hovering over him. He pried his eyes opened to see Melissa inches from his face.
“Morning, sunshine,” she said sweetly, “I was waiting for you to wake up.”
Garrett tried to unroll himself. Bitch.
“Here,” Melissa said digging her nails into Garrett’s cauterized shoulder sockets, “let me help,” she snarled as she straightened him up against the wall. Rage exploded from Garrett’s stomach, it was a sound no other man or animal could have made.
“Cornelia’s gotta go,” Melissa said calmly.
Garrett winced. He didn’t want her to endure any of the pain he had suffered, and he was sure Melissa wasn’t going to kill her quickly or efficiently.
“I thought you’d want to at least try to watch her walk away for the last time,” she added with a wink.
Garrett grunted, walk? Melissa cocked an eyebrow, “Cat got your tongue, babe?” Cunt has my tongue, and my nut, and my arms.
“I’m not going to kill her if that’s what you’re grunting about,” Melissa said flippantly as she stood up. “She had a choice, you or Joe,” she said walking toward her first aid kit. She began picking out disinfectants, salts, gauze, and latex gloves.
“She chose Joe,” she explained as she moved the medical equipment to where Garrett was ankle chained to the wall.
Garrett felt numb. But she loves me.
“Can you blame her though? Really, she loved you and time after time you chose me over her,” Melissa said as she began tending to his newest wound. “Either way, after I bandage you up, I’m going to return her a little worse for the wear to her beloved, and I can’t have you dying of infection when I’m out.” Melissa put her latex covered fingers to her mouth and blew a kiss to Garrett. Smudges of his blooded coated her lips. Melissa snapped off the gloves, heading to her purse she threw the gloves in a nearby garbage. After carefully applying a layer of blood red lipstick Melissa walked back toward Garrett. Leaning over him, she slapped Garrett hard across his face, “to help keep you awake, Gar.”
For minutes Garrett struggled to sit up, finally with whatever strength he could muster, Garrett stretched to see Melissa entering Cornelia’s room once more. She was helping Cornelia to stand up. Once she was steady, Melissa took her hand and lead her forward toward the door. Even eyeless, covered in blood and throw up, she was beautiful. Had he only known she loved him back then, maybe things would have been different. Garrett felt faint, between the emotional damage he endured and Melissa tending to his fucking nut she had recently cut off, he just wanted to die. He watched Cornelia for as long as possible before losing consciousness once more. According to Melissa, Garrett would die, just not today.