Seeing

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir!” She bent down and retrieved his glasses. She inspected them as she stood up, her breath misting gently across the clear surface. She immediately felt tired. “They’re not broken or scratched,” she constructed a relieved smile.

He barely glanced at her as he took them back, but she was not surprised. She knew that dismissive look. She had seen it plenty of times before. Because her face was too gaunt to be considered pretty. Her hair was thin and greying despite her age. Her eyes no longer held the life she had once felt so strongly.

She watched as he walked away, still talking on his phone, his white shirt crisp and bright, his leather shoes clicking importantly with every step.

“Did you do it?”

“I always do,” she replied without turning to look at the man who appeared at her side. She stumbled slightly as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her to his side.

“Good girl,” he kissed the top of her head. His lips were cold.

She remained still, used to his treatment.

“Let’s go,” he pulled her to his car.

She opened the door and sat down, immediately rolling the window down as she stared outside. She ignored his irritated glance.

The apartment building that they approached loomed with leering glass panels. She shivered despite the summer heat.

She did not bother rolling up the window as she exited the car. Her arms remained folded as they rode the elevator to the top floor.

The door recognized his fingerprint and allowed them into his apartment. And it was his apartment, not theirs. For he owned everything that she had.

Sharp edges and walls of glass glared as they entered. He pushed her towards the office, and she sat facing his desk. She picked up the notepad and pen. He sat in his chair and watched her, his eyes greedy.

Knowing better than to delay, she closed her eyes, and began to see. A screen flashed, a name, numbers. Her hand moved, a steady stream of red across the page.

She opened her eyes with a shudder as her hand trailed from the page. The pen dropped to the table and her hand fell to her lap. The world spun and she felt exhaustion creep in sluggish waves.

Her eyes drooped. She saw him take the pad, his smile cold, his mind already calculating. Soon, she knew, he would be millions richer, and a man would wake to find his accounts empty.

“Good work,” he praised.

She felt nauseated as she stared at his handsome face. At the lies behind his smile, behind his every word. The lies she had so foolishly trusted. The smile that had drunk in her deepest secret, one she had been so glad to finally share. The face that had been honest until it warped and its cruelty was revealed.

By then it was too late, the bars had fallen, and she knew that she would regret it for as long as she lived. Her only relief, she sighed as sleep lowered her eyes, was that it would not be too much longer. Her life drained as his greed grew and one day soon, she knew, she would be free.

Another in my series of Breath themed stories.

In no order:

Steam

Lunacy

Lunacy

“The moon that interesting?”

“It’s full tonight. Must be some werewolves out there.”

“Very funny.”

“What, Josh, you’re not scared of them, are you?” She finally turned to glance at him.

“They’re not even real.”

“Says you,” she sniffed.

He sat beside her and craned his neck. “It’s nice… But you look lovesick, the way you’re staring. Should I be jealous?”

“Maybe,” she grinned, her eyes flicking in his direction. The moonlight made his skin glow. “I mean, it’s gorgeous, it’s so bright, and – well, tonight, it’s pretty damn big.”

“It’s only bright because of the sun. And it’s not big every night.”

She shrugged, scowling as thin clouds momentarily obscured her view. “It’s just hidden most of the time. Doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

“You’ve been staring at it for hours now. Want to go grab food? I’m starved.” He put his arm around her, but she didn’t lean in to him as she normally did. “Melanie?”

Her head jerked and she turned to him, blinking. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“Never mind. I’m gonna defrost a pizza.”

Melanie opened the window and inhaled the moon’s white breath.

She settled on the couch, her head nestled against a small mound of pillows. The moon was her blanket as she curled her legs up to her chest. It brushed its lullaby through her hair.

She felt her muscles relax, one by one, and a small smile curved her lips. Her breath misted, silver, in front of her.

“Want a slice?” Josh poked his head into the room as he read the directions on the back of the box. “Melanie?” He looked up when there was no response. She was still staring outside. He sighed. “Mel,” he walked up and shook her. She was warm, her pulse soothing, and her eyes vacant as the moon.

—-

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of breath. First with Steam, and now with this one. And I have more lined up. They are not connected, but rather variants on a theme. I hope you enjoyed it!