I insisted on taking my shower before Ben. I took the remaining pills and crushed them. I folded the tissue it was in and shoved it into the pocket of my sweater.
Ben was in the kitchen standing beside the toaster. His dark hair was messy and sticking up. He had his pajama pants on and no shirt. I wrapped my arms around his waist, being careful not to hit his infection, and kissed his back.
“Go take a shower,” I said. “I’ll make us breakfast.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yes. I want to take care of you.”
Ben turned around in my arms and kissed me. I kissed him back, keeping up this charade, and then let go of him.
“Coffee and toast sound good?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be quick,” he said.
“Take your time.”
Ben kissed me one more time before he headed over to the bathroom. I waited to hear the bathroom door click shut before I pulled the tissue out of my pocket. I grabbed a mug and put some of the instant coffee mix into it. I sprinkled the powder into the mug. I mixed the powder and coffee mix together. I filled the kettle with water. The toast popped out of the toaster, and I buttered it.
My fingers tapped on the counter as I listened to the water from the shower. I stared at the kettle as I waited for the water to boil.
This was all going to be over soon.
The sound of the shower stopped. My heart pounded in my chest. I prayed for this water to hurry up as I heard Ben moving around in the bathroom. I looked into the mug. The light green flecks of powder stood out amongst the dark coffee mix.
Ben was going to see that I was trying to poison him and he would kill both of us. I could throw the mix into the trash or wash it down the drain in the sink. This was my last bit of hydromorphone. If I got rid of this, I got rid of my last opportunity. I would have to wait until the next time Ben needs to rob a pharmacy for our immunosuppressant pills. That could be months.
The bathroom door opened, and I unplugged the kettle. I poured the water into the mug and stirred the powder. The water was warm, but it was not enough to dissolve the powder. I stirred the coffee faster and it was splashing onto the counter. I could not see any more of the white powder. Ben’s footsteps were coming closer to me and I wiped the counter clean.
I looked over my shoulder and flashed him a smile. Ben’s hair was brushed back, and he had on a pair of jeans and a hoodie.
“Breakfast is ready,” I said.
“Aren’t you eating?” he asked.
I looked over at the counter to see that it was just one cup of coffee and a piece of toast. I was so focused on his coffee that I forgot to make breakfast for myself.
“I have yours finished,” I said. “I was just about to make some toast.”
“No coffee?” he asked.
“My head still kind of hurts,” I said. “I shouldn’t add caffeine to it right now.”
“You still have a headache?” Ben cupped my cheek with one hand and ran his fingers with his other hand along my forehead above my eyebrow. “Where does it hurt? It could be something wrong with your eyes.”
I bit down on my lip and pulled his hands off of my face. Ben’s brows were furrowed and his jaw was tense. I gave him a smile and shook my head.
“It’s not my eyes,” I said. “It’s probably just all of the stress. I used to get these headaches around midterms. I’ll be okay.”
“Go lie down, and I’ll make you something to eat,” he said.
“No, I am okay. Eat your breakfast before it gets cold.”
“Okay.” Ben pressed his lips onto my forehead.
I put a piece of bread into the toaster. I turned to see Ben was leaning against the counter. He took a bite out of his toast, and then brought the cup up to his lips and took a sip. I held my breath as I watched him swallow the mouthful of coffee. The water hadn’t been boiling, so I was unsure if the coffee was going to hide the taste. My worries were washed away when Ben took another sip.
“How did you sleep?” Ben asked.
“Good,” I lied. I stayed awake all night thinking about the pills.
Ben finished his toast before taking another swig of the coffee. I wondered how long it would take for the medication to take effect.
My toast popped out of the toaster and I buttered it. Ben’s eyes were locked on me as he watched me move around the kitchen. My stomach was in too tight of a knot to even think about eating.
Ben took another drink of his coffee. He raised one of his eyebrows and looked down into the mug. He ran his finger along the bottom of the cup. He held his finger up closer to his face. I could see the chunk of powder at the tip of his finger. The powder at the bottom must have not dissolved.
“What is this?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I had to fight with my voice to stop it from wavering, but I wasn’t very successful.
Ben’s jaw dropped before he scowled. He lifted the mug and threw it across the kitchen. The cup shattered against the wall. The broken pieces fell to my feet. I held my throbbing arm to my chest.
“You’re a fucking bitch,” Ben yelled. “You’re trying to kill me?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. I wanted to sound casual, but my voice came out high-pitched.
“Fine,” he said. “If you want it that way.”
He turned around and stormed out of the kitchen. My heart pounded when I realized he was heading to the bedroom. The gun was in there.
I grabbed one of the frying pans that were hanging over the sink. I threw it at Ben. My aim was not very good, and it bounced off of his shoulder. Ben cried out and turned around. I opened one of the drawers and pulled out a knife. It was a dull steak knife, but I needed some kind of weapon.
This wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen, but it needed to happen.
I ran after Ben as he made his way to the bedroom. I jumped onto his back. My arms wrapped around his neck as Ben tried to jerk me off. My legs wrapped around his waist to try and stay on him. He gasped when my leg hit his infection. The knife was in a tight grip in my hand. I tightened my one arm around his neck, and let with my hand that had the knife. I swung my hand down, and the knife went into his flesh. I managed to hit him just below the collarbone.
Ben screamed out in pain. He turned his body and rammed his back into the wall. Pain shot up my spine, and I let go of Ben. I fell to the floor. Ben pulled the knife out of his chest. He turned and crouched down in front of me. The blood was seeping through his grey hoodie. His eyes were dark, and his jaw was clenched. The knife was in his hand.
“Everything was finally going good,” he said. “And you screwed that all up.”
“This was never good,” I said. “This was so sick.”
“What they did to us was sick. Diana, I love you. We love each other. There was nothing sick about that.”
“I don’t love you!”
Ben took in a sharp breath, and his shoulders stiffened. This was it. He was going to kill me.
“I never loved you, Ben,” I said. “I liked you when you were helping me. I like you in the Caribbean. I hated you when you killed that guy. I hated you took me and brought me to this cabin. I wanted you to die when I found out you were the one who kidnapped me and destroyed my life.”
“I did all of this for us,” he said. “I know we are supposed to be together, and I will make sure that we stay together.”
Ben pulled his hand with the knife back. I kicked my leg and kicked him in the stomach. He cried out when I hit his infection. He cradled his abdomen. I scurried across the floor and struggled to get back onto my feet.
“Di, don’t make this hard!” Ben yelled.
He sliced the knife through the back of my calf. I screamed as the sharp fiery pain ran across my leg. I stumbled and fell onto my knees. Ben grabbed my ankle and yanked me toward him. I rolled so that I was on my back. Ben had the blade raised above me. I kicked my free leg and aimed for his face. He saw my movement and dodged my kick. I brought my heel down and managed to hit him in the neck.
Ben gasped for breath, and his grip loosened on my ankle. I pulled myself free and scrambled to get up on my feet. I sprinted into the kitchen.
I pulled open all of the drawers to look for a bigger knife. I pushed a pile of spatulas and wooden spoons to the side to see a butcher knife underneath. I grabbed it and slammed the drawer shut.
I turned to see Ben coming into the kitchen. He was moving much slower than I anticipated him to. A cold sweat had broken out across his forehead. He placed one hand on the counter and leaned against it. He closed his eyes, and his breathing was shallow.
“You need to settle down,” Ben said. “You chose for this to happen.”
“I didn’t have a choice in any of this!” I said.
Ben dragged his feet across the floor toward me. I kept my back against the counter and stepped closer to the door. I was not going to let him trap me in the corner.
He held his hand out to the side and dropped the knife. It clanged on the ground. He held his hands out in front of me. I kept my knife out in front of me as he stepped closer.
“I’m not going to stab you,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt you like that.”
He took one more step toward me. I tried to take another step back but I was stopped by the counter. Ben’s breathing hitched as he got closer to me. The medication was taking over his body, and he was trying to fight it off.
“I hope that this will be different,” he said. His voice was barely above a whisper. “We will have a second chance, and I hope it all goes better. I love you, Diana. I know you love me too. You’re the first person to make me feel good. I thought after Gabi no one would ever love me.”
I chewed on my lip as I listened to Ben’s incoherent ramble. His eyes were closed as he reached behind him. There was a click, and I looked down to see Ben pulling the gun out of the waist of his jeans. He must have gotten it out of the bedroom before coming into the kitchen.
He lifted the gun, and I leaped forward thrusting the butcher knife into his chest. He dropped the gun onto the floor and grabbed my arm. His warm blood was spilling onto my hand. Ben’s knees gave out underneath him, but he did not let go of my arm. It caused me to stumble and fall on top of him. My hand was still on the handle and forced the blade deeper into his chest. Ben gurgled and coughed. Blood spewed from his mouth and hit my face. The sticky crimson was covering his lips.
“Good luck, Kitten,” he said when he managed to collect enough breath between coughs.
I let go of the knife and shook Ben off of me. He was sprawled out on the cold kitchen floor. All of the colour had been drained out of his already pale skin. His eyelids crashed closed, hiding his dark blue eyes. The handle of the knife moved up and down with every shallow breath he took.
I should have picked up the gun and shot him. I should have made sure he died in front of me. I knew there was no way that he could survive the pills and blade, but I needed to make sure.
I picked the gun up off of the floor. It was much heavier than I expected, and I held it in front of me with both hands. My finger waver over the trigger as I aimed for Ben. His nearly lifeless body had no idea what was going on. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath as I prepared myself to fire.
I had stabbed Ben, but it was out of self-defense. His barely conscious body was not a threat to me anymore.
My goal was never to kill Ben. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to get out of here. I wanted to get home. I wanted to see Mom and Marcy again.
Ben was no longer standing in the way.
I couldn’t kill him. If I killed him that would make me like the three people I hate the most: Oliver, Bethany, and Ben.
I set the gun down on the counter and took a step back from Ben’s body.
Ever since I woke up blinded in Oliver’s basement there has been one thing on my mind. I had to get myself home. Now, it is finally going to happen.
I walked into the bedroom. I unzipped the slot in the front and pulled out the car keys. I could drive until I found a police station or even another house in this deserted woods full of summer cabins. I threw the bag over my shoulder and walked back into the kitchen.
Ben’s shallow breathing was rattling from the blood seeping into his throat. He was in the same spot, but his hand had moved over his chest.
The paper map Ben had used to get us here was folded up on the counter. I opened it and spread it across the counter. I followed my finger along the dark line Ben made to see where we are. I went through the cupboards and found a red pen. I traced myself a new path on how to get home.
I folded the map and tucked it under my arm. I walked around Ben’s body as I went to the door. I took one last look at Ben before walking outside.
The cold air filled my lungs, but the sun was warm against my skin. I climbed into the car and tossed the duffel bag onto the passenger seat. I spread the map open over the bag. I started the car, and Ben’s classic rock music began to play. I switched the channel to the next station. The hosts were arguing over something some celebrity did at some awards show. I didn’t recognize the celebrity’s name, and it made me wonder how long I was gone.
I looked in the rearview mirror. My green eyes and misshapen pupil were easily seen behind the lens of my glasses. Streaks of Ben’s blood ran across my cheek. I rubbed it with my sleeve, but it just caused the blood to smear. My other sleeve was soaked in his blood.
I wanted to get home before being stopped by someone seeing me covered in blood. I didn’t want to spend hours being interrogated by police in some station in Muskoka. I wanted to be home. I wanted to be in my mother’s arms as I cried.
The car had a full tank of gas, and I followed the directions on the map. I got on the highway and kept a tight grip on the steering wheel. It was almost noon when I set out, and I watched the sunset while driving. My muscles ache from sitting so long, and I flipped through the radio stations between every song.
Thankfully, it was dark when I ran out of gas. I found an empty gas station and took off my bloody sweater before getting out of the car. Goosebumps spread across my skin as I filled the car up. When I went into the station, I kept my gaze down, tossed some bills on the counter, and then left before I waited for him to give me any change.
I tossed the bloody sweater back on and got back onto the highway.
When the signs around me started to become familiar a wave of nostalgia washed over me. My lips spread into a smile, and I started to drive faster. The realization that I was finally going to be going home hit me.
I got off the off-ramp and drove onto my city’s streets. I was back in my hometown, and I was away from that nightmare.
I pulled into my driveway to see my mom’s red brick house. A few pumpkins and gourds sat on the cement step outside the wooden door. The faint glow that the television provided behind the living room curtain was gone. All of the windows in the house were dark. I glanced down at the clock on the radio to see it was eleven at night. My mom was always one to go to bed earlier.
I knocked on the door, but there was no answer. I knocked one more time. There was still no answer.
I had always kept a key under my Mom’s large flower pot. I would always forget my keys and she was tired of cutting me new ones all the time. I hide one under the pot, but I never told her.
I tilt the pot of orange and yellow mums, and the silver key was still underneath. I picked up the key and unlocked the door. The comforting smell of home filled my nose. I ran over to the bottom of the wooden staircase.
“Mom!” I shouted. “Mom! It’s Diana!”
I hurried up the stairs, and I heard someone scurrying above. The moonlight filled casted shadows across my mom. She had on a pair of pajamas, and her hair was sticking up on ends. Her jaw dropped when she saw me, and I ran into her arms.
We were halfway up the stairs. My mom’s arms wrapped around me in a bone-crushing hug. The tears were flowing down my cheeks, and I was sobbing for breath. Similar sounds came out of my Mom’s mouth. Our knees gave out and we were sitting on the stairs.
“Oh my god, Diana,” my mom said. “I thought you were dead. I really thought you were dead. They all told me you were dead.”
“I’m alive,” I said. “I missed you so much, Mom.”
The front door opened, and my heart pounded.
I didn’t make sure that Ben was dead. He was still alive, and he was coming here to kill me.
The lights flicked on, and Marcy was standing at the front door. Her hair was pulled up in a ponytail and held back by a thick purple headband. She was wearing her scrubs, and her stethoscope was in her pocket. Her eyes widened when she saw mom and me embracing each other on the stairs.
“Diana!” she yelled. “Di, you’re back. I was wondering whose car was in the driveway.”
Marcy ran up the staircase to meet us. She got on her knees on the step in front of me. Her eyes scanned over my bloody clothes, and she cupped my face in her hands. Her face was pale when she looked at my eyes. Mom hadn’t seen me in the light yet. She has no clue.
“Di, what happened to you?” she asked. “What is wrong with your eyes?”
Mom adjusted herself behind me so that she could see my eyes. I leaned back into her and cried even harder. Marcy wrapped her arms around the both of us.
“Have you called the cops yet, Mom?” Marcy asked.
“No,” she said. “She came home just a minute before you.”
Marcy let go of us and pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. She dialed 9-11, and I listened to her as she talked to the cops. Mom ran her fingers through my hair. I cried into her chest as she gently rocked me.
“Diana, what on Earth happened to you?” she asked.
As we waited for the cops, I tried my best to explain everything that had happened to me since that fateful walk home.