She heard his footsteps on the stairs. A few more seconds and the door knob would turn. Early morning light was streaming rather brightly through the gauze curtains of her bedroom window. She laid still and calm, allowing the serenity of the room with its whitewashed walls and simple furnishing to fill her spirit. It was really a lovely room. How lucky she was to have it all to herself. How comfortable she felt atop the feather bed with the handmade quilts. All the nicer if she could just bring her left arm down to rest with her body. But that was impossible with the handcuff. She rolled lazily on to her left side to face the door just as it opened.
He arrived as he did at this time every morning, pushing the door open first, and then quietly, slowly entering the room. He held the revolver with both hands, carried low but ready if needed. From her angle in bed, she saw the gun first. Dull steel, his finger wrapped around the trigger.
“Good morning”, he said.
Her eyes traveled methodically from the gun in her captors hands, upward along his hairy forearms, to his shoulders, finally resting on his bearded face. He had a bushy brown beard and longish hair to match. His eyes were a royal blue that would catch anyone’s attention right away. He was a very handsome man.
She didn’t return his greeting. It wouldn’t change anything. She could be charming or she could be indifferent, and the day would still develop much the same as the ones before. She would make breakfast for them both while he watched, gun cocked and ready to thwart any escape attempt. She would scrub the countertops, and sweep the floor. If it was Friday, she would also mop. If it was Wednesday she would be locked in the empty room off the kitchen with baskets of laundry to fold. When she was well behaved, she would be allowed to sit, handcuffed, in the easy chair next to the living room window for an hour or two and look outside. She especially enjoyed the view of the heavily wooded property in the autumn months when she could watch the leaves change from green to shades of red and gold. Often the window would be raised and she could even feel the crisp fall breeze through the screen.
He tossed the key and it landed just beside her. She rolled onto her back and grabbed the key with her right hand, then reached over and unlocked the cuff around her other hand.
He leaned against the wall beside the doorway and waited while she slipped out from under the covers and put on her robe. He followed her every move, the gun raised a little higher now as she began to shuffle around.
She found her slippers and brushed her hair. When she was done, he motioned for her to exit the room.
“Slowly”, he said.
She moved deliberately to the doorway as ordered, and stepped out of the bedroom. He was behind her immediately and she felt the familiar point of the gun in her lower back.
“What would you like for breakfast today?” she asked as they moved downstairs and into the kitchen.
“Eggs and toast. “
He took his seat at the table, keeping the gun held on her.
“Your coffee is by the sink” he said. She picked up her mug of lukewarm coffee. She hadn’t had hot coffee in years. It was the only thing that could travel faster than a bullet.
She took a long sip and stared out the kitchen window for a moment. Then she sat the cup down and grabbed eggs, milk, butter and bread from the refrigerator. The butter melted in a skillet on the stove while she whisked together the milk and eggs. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him staring at her. How is it he was never distracted? Would he never tire of intimidating her? She poured the eggs into the skillet and dropped bread down into the toaster, rubbing her left wrist while the eggs cooked.
“Must’ve twisted around in my sleep last night” she thought. There was a tender crease just below the palm of her hand where the cuff had gotten snug.
His cell phone rang and she jumped.
“Take it easy”, he said. She didn’t respond but instead grabbed a plastic spatula to turn the eggs while he took the call, never taking his eyes off of her.
“Hello” he said.
She stirred the eggs. The toast was done. He was standing up.
Without turning her head, she looked sideways to see his movement. He was backing away from the table now, into the rear wall of the kitchen.
“No, that can’t be true”, he said to the caller.” I just saw him last night. He can’t be gone. Not yet.”
“It’s his father,” she thought to herself. His father had been in the hospital for nearly a month with a terminal illness. The details escaped her just now. She knew his parents lived somewhere about an hour away with the boys because he often talked about them while she gazed out the window in the afternoons.
She put his eggs on a plate with toast and turned toward the table. He had lowered himself to the floor now and sat in a slumped position on the floor, his head hanging low.
Her heart skipped a beat. Where was the gun? He was holding only his phone now.
“Dad is dead” he said. He was clearly distraught.
Her eyes darted to the table where she saw the gun sitting beside his coffee cup. In two quick motions, she set the plate down and skillfully secured the gun, backing up two steps and pointing it directly at his forehead.
He looked at her dully.
Her mind raced. She would pull the trigger and release the bullet. She was only five feet from him so the impact would be extreme. Messy. His head would likely explode and blood would splatter in several directions, covering the wall, her robe, his eggs.
She smiled at the image and pulled the trigger.
Nothing happened. No noise, no blood, no excitement.
Their eyes met. He hadn’t moved.
“It isn’t loaded,” he said.” It never has been. Why do you think I keep you locked up?
I’m not the killer Sarah. You are.”