She did her shopping alone today. Casually browsing the aisles looking for nothing in particular. It was strange. They were all grown. Finally. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Birds flown from the nest. Her husband was on the golf course. Enjoying stories and lies with his friends. She thought about what a good man he was. Then she thought about how content she was. It made her uneasy. And she liked it. She had always liked the sharp edges of things.
He’ll do well in college, she thought. Her youngest son had always been her favorite because of how different he was. Like her but unlike her. She sighed and placed an avocado in the plastic bag which crinkled with a noise she loved. She loved many strange little details of her white picket fence life.
Moving down the aisles aimlessly she continued to think about her children. It was hard to believe they had grown into adults. It was hard to believe that she was so old. She’d never expected to be old. She wondered what she would watch on television. She wondered if he would come home drunk again and fuck her. He seemed restless. Retirement didn’t suit a company man like him. He was driving her crazy. Maybe they would take a trip somewhere exotic. They needed something different.
He built his power base carefully. A marijuana business had never been something that interested him. It was lucrative though. When more than half of the states in the union found their sanity and legalized recreational use he invested in cultivation. Then he expanded to retail. He was a criminal but he was also a gentleman. He broke the rules but never for the sake of breaking them. He was cautiously reckless. By skirting the lines and applying grease where it was needed his business outgrew that of his competitors.
He had to kill one of them. She was a cutthroat. She was unhinged. When his competitor had one of his fields burned her people killed one of his employees. That was unacceptable. He went to his locker, took out one of the rifles and practiced for several days. Then he shot his competitor through the head from a hilltop a mile away while she was sipping white wine from a crystal glass. The glass didn’t break when it hit the deck of her home with expensive mountain views. Her head exploded and he had the rifle smelted down into its base elements. The deck was demolished and rebuilt so the realtor wouldn’t have to disclose that someone had been murdered in the home. His business continued to grow. His remaining competitors became more cautious.
When she arrived at home she thought about how empty the house felt. Then she got high and fisted herself. Got lost in a memory and talked to a man who only lived in her head. He didn’t come home until well after midnight. He didn’t fuck her. She wondered if he had someone else and realized it didn’t matter if he did. She dreamed about a demon who shape shifted into an angel. At times she forgot if the being had appeared as the angel or the demon initially. She realized it didn’t matter. In the morning he went into the garage and lost himself in a project. She got high on the porch. That night they began planning their exotic trip.
He took a small portion of his profits from the marijuana business and built a special place. In his travels all over the world to meet growers and convince politicians it was in their best interest to vote his way on legalization he’d come across a few very special parcels of real estate. Through a shell company he made a land purchase. Then he drew up a blueprint and hired an old friend who had gone into contracting after they left the military and the wars. The contractor was reliable and knew how to keep his mouth shut. The place took a year to build. It cost him millions. Mostly because everything had to be flown in from a great distance by seaplane. The house at the end of the world took shape. The special room inside was constructed exactly to his specifications.
When they did the final walkthrough his friend knew better than to ask any questions about that room. They were like that. There was no need to discuss what the room would be used for. They had been through so much together. There was no need to talk about what or why anymore. Some people just get things done.
The trip was going wonderfully. She was falling in love. She did that a lot. The girl was younger than her. Beautiful. Her husband was too busy drinking and playing golf on the savanna to notice that she was sneaking off to play with her new friend. The two of them were comfortable being apart together. When she and the girl finally decided to explore each others’ bodies fully it was magical. They got high and tasted everything including each other in the tent while giraffes grazed outside in the acacias. She drifted off to sleep and dreamed that she was being kidnapped.
Everything was ready. It had been for some time. The plane arrived on time. He had interviewed and hired everyone for this job personally. It went like clockwork. The girl arrived with the package on time. Everything had been planned meticulously. She woke up a little groggy. It took a few minutes to realize that she was in chains.
“Hello girl,” he said. “It’s been long enough.”
When she came back he was doing something noisy. She heard scraping and a crackling noise.
“Hello again girl.”
She struggled to see but her head was clamped into something. Something made of metal. She realized that her head was trapped inside a cage made of metal mesh.
“I’m going to brand you now,” he said quietly. The words sounded so loud inside her head. “It’s well past time.”
She thought about the history the two of them shared. About the decades in between the beginning and the now.
The smell of her own flesh burning made her feel more loved than she ever had before. She cried as she realized she would never leave this place. The wandering and wondering were over. She was home. She was his.