Everyone thought of them as the cute couple, but everyone showed different parts of themselves to everyone else. At home, they lived in the truth. Sometimes it was warm like a blanket; other times, it was dark like a sudden storm.
He did graphic design and didn’t even know what that was any more, the field was changing so rapidly. First it had been book covers, then promotional graphics, then book trailers. Then he started designing web sites. He was the man who did everything. Authors and businesses thought he had a team, but he did it all.
Blaine had just gotten a huge contract for ten book covers and promotional material for a major publisher. It would keep them in the black for months. He loved his work. He had tried his hand at writing but he sucked at it. He wanted to be part of books in some way and now he was, all self taught. He loved what he did, but he had to do it all the time. It was hard work supporting two people.
Oh, Colleen had been working when they met, as an administrative assistant. Then she had lost touch with things somehow. She was sort of sad at first, and then had turned darker. She lost one job and tried again. She lost that one too. Colleen had come home today and told him she had lost the third job.
He didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was mad all the time and angry with everyone. She had been such a sweet woman when they had met and was until a few moths after they had moved in together.
Now she was a completely different person. He didn’t recognize the woman he’d fallen for five years ago. It was like she was lost inside herself, as if what she was searching for consumed her.
Blaine didn’t want to remember the conversation, however he’d been thinking about it all night. Even the thought of it still made him cringe. He had just wanted to help her, instead he let his anger take over. Blaine had just been sitting here thinking about how much he loved Colleen and how much he couldn’t stand her any more. He didn’t know how to help her any more if she didn’t want to be helped.
He loved her, but the truth was, he was close to leaving her. The words came back to him now, as the skies through his apartment window turned dark. “Don’t you want to get better? Aren’t you sick of being like this?” His voice rose even though he had told himself to remain calm. “You have to move on, suck it up. You can’t keep doing this to yourself. You’ve done tougher shit than this before and you’re going to cave for no fucking reason? I don’t get it.”
She had turned to face him. Her eyes were large and glass-like, but there were no tears. “I’m just so sad all the time, Blaine. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I need help.”
“So you’re just going to give in to yourself?” He didn’t know, even three hours later, why he had said that, whey he had ignored the third thing she had said. She had looked at him, hurt written on her face in her tight mouth and turned away from him.
He hated this moment, dread it because despite everything, he loved her. He had thought of that moment over one hundred times thus far this evening, had replayed it in his head it was on a loop. He had said: “Where are you going?”
And she had replied with: “I’m going to take out the garbage.”
Followed by the click of the door-but it didn’t click this time. Blaine looked up; that was odd. Could memories change? Instead of what her response had been, Colleen said: “Why don’t you go fuck yourself.”
Blaine was stunned. “What was that, honey?” He hadn’t called her honey for months. For months, there were no Pookie or Darling or Babe. Only her name.
“Oh,” she said. “Honey, am I? I thought you were implying that I was a failure, that I was nothing. That I was a fuck up and nothing more, that I should just suck it up.” Her voice was darker, more like a whisper and Blaine realized that he was frightened.
“What are you talking about honey? What’s the matter?” He hadn’t asked that question tonight, hadn’t bothered. Well, he was bothering now.
She turned to him and Blaine was stunned by her appearance. She looked twenty years older. Sure, the hair was the same but her face. It was the face of a different woman. “Now you fucking ask me? Now? But of a delayed reaction, don’t you think? But then again, everything with you is.”
“What do you mean, honey?”
“Stop fucking calling me that!”
He agreed readily. It seemed to enrage her. “What ever you want, honey.” He said. However Blaine didn’t remember saying that. He didn’t remember any of this.
Colleen smiled and advanced towards him. “I know that you’ve been wanting to leave me, Blaine, that you’ve been getting ready to go. I can’t have that. This is what I look like on the inside, Blaine. Lets make your outside match, shall we?”
He didn’t even see her move. She was by the front door of the apartment and then she was upon him-with no movement in between. Blaine felt the blade of a knife go into his stomach and watched as Colleen pulled it out of him. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, you fucking asshole.” She said.
Blaine tried to staunch the flow of blood and was surprised by how warm it was. He looked up as Colleen moved closer and whispered in his ear, barely able to make a sound. “Wake up, you’re dreaming.”
When Blaine did open his eyes, he looked down to see that he was still bleeding. In fact, from the feel of it, he was bleeding out. Standing in front of him was not Colleen, but a dark shape of a man. He had stepped back into the darkness but Blaine mad out the shape of a suit coat and gloved hands.
Blaine looked at him and started to scream. From the shadows, the man spoke. “This is why I woke you up. I know the dream thing has been done, but its so intimate, wouldn’t you agree? Besides, no one screams in dreams.”
The last thing Blaine saw was the blade of a knife as it slashed through the air towards him. It sliced through his neck, and his screams were reduced to wet gurgles.
“Go back to sleep.” The shadow man said. “We can have another go.”
Blaine let the blackness take him