“People rarely drove all the way down the cul-de-sac. Some were unaware that the house at 31 Kings Point even existed, except for one man driving along the boundless, newly-paved road at a quarter to midnight. His slick white Volkswagen avoided all streetlamps and the breathtaking crescent moon hanging low in the late night sky. He parked his car just before 29 Kings Point, attempting to avoid the eyes of suspicious strangers.”
The cream colored yellow house stood poised at the end of the road, standing in a position quite unlike the other houses, which were an infinite labyrinth of similarity, their shapes and forms identical to one another. The very last house, although it did not seem to be shunned from the rest of the neighborhood like an outcast, was vastly different. While the remaining houses were small and simple, with four windows and a single door at the front, the last house had exactly seventeen windows and one door at each side. The so-to-speak, “normal houses” each contained a mailbox at the right side of the house, coated in black paint and marked with a golden two digit number. The final house at the bend in the road had a tendency to break the rules of the development, commonly known as Kings Point, had an ocean blue mailbox with handprints of every family member and two crimson numbers marked near the opening of it. The mailbox also stood at the left side of the driveway, puzzling occasional visitors.
People rarely drove all the way down the cul-de-sac. Some were unaware that the house at 31 Kings Point even existed, except for one man driving along the boundless, newly-paved road at a quarter to midnight. His slick white Volkswagen avoided all streetlamps and the breathtaking crescent moon hanging low in the late night sky. He parked his car just before 29 Kings Point, attempting to avoid the eyes of suspicious strangers.
The man quietly stepped out of his car, the sounds he made, faint, as he closed the car door gently in his wake. It was cold for midwinter, and the leaves, scraping roughly against the road beneath his feet, were swept into the air and blew around him in an exhilarating burst of wind. But this was no time for admiring the beauty of a silent snowy night. No. He had to push the rusty gears embedded in his brain to get them running again. He could not focus on the eerie nature surrounding him. He had to snap out of his daze. This man had a job to do.
After walking up the steep hill, his legs throbbing, his pudgy reddened face contorting in pain, he reached his destination. His target. His endpoint. The climax of his storybook. The untimely demise of his wicked rival. The end of another’s chapter, but a whole new beginning for the victor. The man could just taste his win on his ruby red lips. He could smell his delight, suck on his vengeance, as if it were a mint.
The man eventually reached the steps to the house, the glossy doorknob shimmering in the beam of the porchlight, moths flying amongst the microscopic cobwebs. He closed his eyes, taking it all in. This was the path he was taking. The man’s fate lied in the hands of none other than the man himself. This selfish, cruel man was invading another family’s life, staining their own fates, their own dreams and destinies.
No, the man thought, shaking his head to bring about his senses. This is not about what they want. They don’t have a say in this. This is what I want. This is what I need to do. This is what I should’ve done a long time ago.
“This is my time,” he said aloud, sucking in an uneven breath, his lips parted in the shape of an “O”. “This is my time,” he repeated, more sure of himself. “In five minutes, this will all be over, and I will be a mended man. My broken stitches will be sewed. I shall breathe again.” He let the words sink in, letting the word “breathe” hang in the air and blanket the darkness. It seemed to turn all the neighborhood to stone, frozen in time.
Was it right? Was it right, to pluck at the heartstrings of the young and innocent, to grasp their lives in greedy hands, to hand their souls over to the master of Death? Was this what he had become? Was this who he was?
The man blinked twice and shut the voices up inside his head. They were useless. He could feel the doubt, the guilt, the hesitation closing in, leaving cold chills snaking up his back. He could not give in to that. He couldn’t. Not so soon. Not so suddenly.
Slowly, with no regrets, the man turned the knob and entered the mansion. The plan was set. It had to be done.
The solid oak door shut behind him, the man cringing at the screech it made across the carpeted floor. He tried not to focus on his loud entrance, but instead tiptoed across the hallway and into the den. The man gasped as he opened a pair of glass double doors. He stood there, his mouth agape at the sight, then decided it was best to enter rather than sightsee. Shelves upon shelves of books lined the walls, moving along from the classics to modern fiction. Small chairs fit for one person stood in the corners, some with newspapers folded on the cushion.
“A library,” he breathed, cupping his hands over his eyes, sliding them down over his cheekbones.
The man wandered over to a rickety table where an old record player stood, ready to be played away. Burning with curiosity, not caring who would hear him, he blew the specks of dust off the disc and slowly brought the disc to life as it spun faster and faster.
To his surprise, his favorite John Denver song, “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” filled the den with music, a guitar strumming in the background. Tears stinging his eyes, the man began to hum the sad serenade, a song he knew by heart.
All my bags are packed/
I’m ready to go/
I’m standing here outside your door/
Already I’m so lonesome I could die/
When he reached the chorus of the song, the tears he had held back choked his words, making the lyrics unsteady yet beautiful.
So kiss me and smile for me/
Tell me that you’ll wait for me/
Hold me like you’ll never let me go/
Never let me go. The words cut through him like a sharp blade. They persisted through his body, stinging and picking at his blackened heart, bruised from hate, scarred from a craving of vengeance.
“Evelyn,” he murmured, her name even painful to say. He had betrayed the lyrics to the song, for he had let her go. He remembered the day he left her, her bouncy bobs of curly blond hair straightened, some wisps adhering to her tear streaked face. Her perfect, doll-like face full of sorrow. The man saw her bloodshot eyes, her smile gone forever, but her four words still haunted him, words that would follow him to his grave, perhaps beyond.
“I still love you,” she called to him from the sidewalk, gingerly rubbing her pregnant belly. Her words were full of hope and courage, like someday the man would return. Evelyn had given him a second chance. He could return, and if he did, all things from his first to last days with her would be forgiven.
He never did come back, however. Gambling and drinking had taken him away from his life, his real life, and to his despair, Evelyn died two months later in childbirth, her son, his son, along with her. She was almost thirty-one.
The man wept, burying his face in his hands, wanting to wail like a child, maybe like his own child would have done. His past had all to do with him. It was all his fault that his wife and son were dead, and that he was too caught up in his addictions to barely notice his family slipping through his fingers.
He and Evelyn could have been happier together, maybe could have raised a larger family in that cottage beside the woods. Evelyn could have finished up her writing courses at graduate school. She could have gotten her master’s degree by the end of the year, even with a baby to raise. Evelyn could have even decided to pursue her dreams even further, just like she wanted, and the man knew she’d worked so hard to become a published author.
In a way, when he left her, it was like he killed Evelyn. Her spirit, her love, her dreams, her happiness. Her son. Their son.
The man wiped the tears away, a waterfall cascading down his cheeks. Reluctantly, he meandered into the family room, where a wrap-around leather couch sat in front of a large flat screen TV. He walked up to the mantle, studying every single photograph. One was of his enemy’s wife cradling an infant in her arms. He smiled at Kristina, seeing a bit of resemblance to Evelyn in her. A ping of jealousy surged through him, remembering his feelings for Kristina Thomas.
She was the only one there for the man when no one else was. She, too, like Evelyn, believed in second chances and helped him recuperate from the drugs he had abused himself with. Still, he was wrong about Kristina. Soon after, her college friend, James, proposed, and the two married under a canopy of cherry blossom trees, all in full bloom for the early springtime.
The man turned away from the picture, unwilling to look at the child in Kristina’s arms. That should’ve been his future with Evelyn.
After searching through other rooms, the man finally came to the conclusion that the family wasn’t home. Dismayed, he was about to beeline for the door when he heard the sound of a grand piano from upstairs. The man stopped in his tracks, spinning around on his heels to face the staircase. He listened once more for the sound of the piano, for the keys to be banged, creating a mighty crescendo. A sly smile spreading pervasively across his face, the man creeped up the winding stairwell, being cautious not to make a sound.
He eventually reached a narrow hallway, where he could hear the piano’s gorgeous melodies ricochet off the walls, echoing throughout the entire house. The man pressed a cold ear to the wall, trying to follow the sound until he reached his destination. He skidded to a stop, discovering the source of the music. He listened carefully, hearing Mozart through the crack in the doorway.
The man was surprised to find an eighteen-year-old girl in the room, perched like a bird on the piano bench, letting her long fingers dangle over the keys. So this must be Sara, he thought, thinking back to the child on the mantle, and suddenly, the pieces of the complicated puzzle came back together, uniting once more.
His crystal blue eyes softened the more he gazed at Sara. He felt almost guilty about what he had to do, but then, the words that stabbed the navy blue night came back to him, emphasizing the point.
This is my time.
Sara turned around as soon as she finished her last note, falling off of the piano bench in fear. She stared at him for a moment, her eyes shooting lasers at the man.
Her voice came out meek but angry. “Who are you? What do you want from me?” She wasn’t afraid to look him in the eye.
The man, speechless by how brave she sounded, did not answer at first, his utter shock depicted on his face like a splash of colors to a painting.
Sara huffed, her words spoken with less stutter. “Look, sir, if money is all that you want, you’ve come to the wrong place.” She took a step back towards the window, her body hunched over.
The man chuckled to himself. What she told him was a lie. He knew her parents were extremely wealthy people, what with James being a businessman and Kristina a lawyer.
“Sweetheart,” he began, his voice patronizing. Sara stiffened. “I’m not here for your money. I’m not here for anybody’s money, actually.” The man ran his hands through his hair in mock frustration. “Good God, why does everybody assume the silliest of things these days?”
He waited for Sara’s reply, but nothing came.
“I knew your mother,” was all the man could get out, wanting to stump this young girl.
The crease on Sara’s forehead eased back, though not enough to change her tone. “And how did you know my mother, may I ask?” she snapped, her arms crossed over her chest. She backed away from the window.
The man decided to give her a taste of her own medicine. “Well if you must know, Miss Thomas,” he said, raising an eyebrow. “Before you were born, I was going through a rather difficult time in my life.”
“I can imagine,” Sara scoffed, the sarcasm punctuated in her voice. Her eyes demanded more information.
“I had some serious drinking problems, not to mention my gambling tendencies. I was using it as a distraction from reality. My wife had just died in childbirth, making me a childless widower.”
Sara stopped glaring when he mentioned Evelyn and his dead son, but she continued to stand her ground. The man carried on with his story, learning that Sara had nothing to add.
“Anyway, Kristina…” He cleared his throat. “I mean, your mother, noticed me one day, I don’t recall how, but she took me in, giving me the chance to start my life over.”
“Yes,” Sara replied, her words more smooth and empathetic. She smiled at the ground. “She’s given second chances to a lot of people.”
The man nodded in agreement, forgetting about why he had come to Kings Point in the first place. “And she did change me. Gave me a new outlook on life, actually. She has a heart of gold, your mother. A true saint.”
Sara blushed, beginning to feel more comfortable with his presence. Maybe this man wasn’t so bad after all. He seemed kind and loving, especially when he talked about Sara’s mother. They seemed so close.
“But your father led her down the wrong path,” the man said cooly, his voice composed.
Sara’s face drained of color, and she took a step back. There was something wrong about this whole conversation. She tucked her chestnut brown hair behind her ear. “What do you mean?” Her hands clenched into fists.
The man took a step towards her. “I was in love with Kristina for quite some time–”
Sara cut him off. “What about your wife? I thought you were still in mourning. I thought you loved her.” Her legs trembled from underneath her. She wanted to run, wanted to hide.
“Will you just listen?” the man shouted, startling the teenager. Even though he wasn’t right next to her, he towered over Sara. “I loved your mother, maybe even more than Evelyn. It was James that interfered. He didn’t appreciate my past or where I came from. I was there the day he proposed to Kristina in her office. I was distraught. The traitor. Took my one chance away from me.”
“My father is a great man!” Sara snarled, her power rushing to her. This man was not to be trusted. This man was relentless, regarding the people she loved most in the lowest form of respect, trying to make her surrender to his opinions.
“If only you knew your father like I did, Sara! You don’t know anything about him, so don’t even try to defend him.”
“Oh I will!” Sara said, her shouts bouncing off the walls. “Especially against someone like you!”
The man breathed heavily through his nostrils.
This is my time.
He reached into his pocket, pulling out the object he was looking for.
This is my time.
He pushed Sara harshly against the wall.
This is my time.
“Let me go!”
This is my time.
Sara kicked and thrashed, but the man held her firm, pressing a hairy hand into her shoulder blade.
This is my time.
“You can’t do this,” Sara rasped, tears welling up in her eyes. “This isn’t right.”
This is my time, this is my time.
The man quickly realized this girl wasn’t talking about herself. She meant Kristina.
This is my time, this is my time.
He clutched the knife in his hand, and without a second glance, pushed the knife into Sara’s chest. When he finally released, Sara shrieked and fell to her knees. Blood pooled down her stomach, hitting the ground like raindrops.
“HOW COULD YOU?!” she screamed, compressing the wound with her bloody hands. “AFTER ALL SHE DID FOR YOU, AND THIS IS HOW YOU REPAY HER?”
The man looked back at Sara, who was crying not from the pain, but for her mother. For his betrayal.
“I’LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!” Sara coughed, choking on her blood and vomit.
The man bent down to face her, lifting up her chin, so she could look him in the eye. Sara did not try to look away. “Oh, don’t you worry, Miss Thomas,” he said. “You don’t have to.”
The man twisted the knife into her chest a second time, and Sara crumpled to the ground, the blood she lost making a circle around her. She didn’t fight or protest. She didn’t beg or plead for mercy. Instead, she watched the man shut the door behind him, locking it from the inside for good measure.
Sara tried to crawl on her hands and knees to reach her iPhone, but remembered that she left it downstairs in the kitchen.
“I’m really going to die tonight,” she whispered, withdrawing her hands from the wound, letting it bleed out on the carpet. Sara winced in pain, wanting to turn back the time to two hours ago, when her parents were just about to leave for their friend’s dinner party. She dreamed of them running back to the house, sensing that something horrible had happened to her. She imagined them bounding up the flight of stairs, two at a time, to her little music studio. Her mother would rock her in her arms, telling Sara that she was going to be okay. Her father would already be on the phone with 911, stroking her hair with one hand and holding the phone to his ear with the other.
But that wasn’t what was really going to happen. It wasn’t even bound to occur. Sara’s parents were half an hour away from Kings Point, unaware that their daughter was brutally stabbed and severely close to dying.
Sara laid her head down to the floor, crying for her own loss. No one could save her. No one had seen the man come in and barge into the room. She would not be spared. Her parents would always remember February 16, 2014, as the day their daughter was killed by some stranger she didn’t even know. And who was the man anyway, and why was he out to kill her?
Sara tried to shield these thoughts as her body stopped shaking from the impact of the weapon. She closed her brown eyes, thinking about what Heaven would be like, if she even deserved to be up there. With her body shutting down, Sara felt Death close in on her, and in one swift motion, Death extracted her soul out of her body and carried it up to where it belonged.
End of Chapter One.