This was first published in the online magazine House Of Horror, issue # 7, December 2009. However, that magazine is no more, so I’ve put the story here.



Alan Baxter

From the silent, heavy tomb of my skull I watch through rheumy, bloodshot eyes and I curse you. The way you move, the steps you take, the simple act of stirring a pot. It all enrages me. As you ladle hot porridge into a bowl and spoon it into my broken, wired jaw, I think of how much I hate you. The way you stand there using two hands at once causes waves of acid bile to rise and ebb within me. As you lift my withered frame from this creaking wheelchair, arranging me on the bed like cushions on a sofa, I scream soundlessly to the void. Why did this have to happen to me?

Every time your eyes meet mine, always wet with sorrow when you look at me, I see the depth of your horror. I know that you would so much prefer to put me in a home somewhere. A place that would have me cared for professionally, with facilities purpose built and staff specially trained. You could afford it so easily, you could afford the best, but love stops you. You are every inch the perfect wife. I can’t see past that damned shock, deep in the shining pupils of your eyes. Will it ever go away? Will you ever sleep at night again without starting awake as you relive the horror of that phone call, the hideous realisation when you arrived at the hospital and looked at what I’d become? I see right through to your raw soul and every time I see the pain etched across your being. Yet still I hate you. I see your inability to do anything but care for me and I despise you for it.

Every high pitched sound I hear goes across my teeth like tin foil, reminding me of screeching tyres, rending steel. Every loud noise startles me, reminders of popping windscreen glass, the hollow crack of headlights exploding, the grinding of the roof on hard, unforgiving asphalt on that long, winding highway. So many smells haunt me, the burning oil, pooling petrol, the coppery danger of electrical sparks arcing across dark, wet tarmac. Every time my smashed and broken body pulses with pain I remember the sides of the car folding in to embrace me. I remember the rescue team’s giant metal pliers cutting through to release me. Every part of me pulverised, battered, ruined. Every limb and organ damaged. Except my brain. Such twisted irony, my accursed mind, locked away in here, the only part of me functioning normally while I drool down the towelling bib tied around my neck.

It should never have been this way. I shouldn’t be this broken shadow of a man, living in pain, reliant on you for every single aspect of existence. It should be you sitting here in this wheeled metal prison and I wouldn’t be guiltily feeding you porridge. I wouldn’t be looking at you with haunted, terrorised eyes that laid bare my emotional agony. I’d have put you in a home long ago. And nothing so fancy as you might imagine for me. You’d be getting the bare minimum of professional care and I’d be living pretty on your fortune by now, enjoying the fruition of the only reason I ever had for marrying you. But I fucked up. His and hers cars on the driveway and the amateurs I hired messed with the wrong one. You get what you pay for and I obviously didn’t pay nearly enough. I’m certainly paying more than enough now.