Little Red Dress

Every night, he watched her cry by the window. She had been like that for three months now. He held her as she cried and whispered every word he could find to comfort her. Nothing changed. December started today, and he knew it was only going to get worse. When she went to work the following morning, he paced in the bedroom. If he didn't find a solution in a week, he was sure she would reach her breaking point. Desperate, he tried calling his ex-best friend for help. Given the terms they had parted on, he didn't expect him to answer. The two of them hadn't spoken in four months now. He picked up the phone and dialed. "Hello? Who is this?" His ex-friend answered. "Um...it's me. I know this is sudden, but I need to ask you something..." He spoke softly, hoping his tone would keep his former friend from hanging up on him. There was a long silence. "Is this joke? This isn't funny." "It's not a joke! Please, I really need your help! Please..." He felt slightly humiliated in having to beg, but if it would ease her pain, it was alright. "This is...how are you doing this? Whatever...what the hell do you want?" His former friend sighed. "Could you visit sometime? I know that sounds...weird given how things were the last time I saw you, but I think she'd feel better if you stopped by." "...Fine. I'll stop by tonight. Is that all you wanted?" The agitation in his voice was obvious. "...Thank you...And...I'm sorry about...how everything turned out." "It's not your fault." "Anyway...goodbye." His former friend didn't say anything in response. The conversation ended with the phone cutting out. The memories of that day hung heavily over him. When he came home from work, the two of them were together in the living room. From what she would tell him, it had been like that since their last anniversary, the one she missed for 'work'. During all that time, he hadn't suspected a thing. He had long let go of the anger he felt over it. Truly, he hadn't felt much of it the day he caught them. Mostly, he only felt sadness, and the worthlessness he already kept hidden from his failures at work seeped through the seams of his subconscious. In every aspect of his life, he couldn't make anyone happy. Those thoughts were put away. He went through their closet and picked out her favorite dress. It was a little red dress. A bit too sexy for her usual attire, it was left over from her college years. They hadn't met yet then, and she had never worn it for him, but she spoke fondly of it often. How many fun memories she had wearing that dress and a pair of plain black heels that still sat perfectly tucked away in a shoe box at the top of the closet. When he caught them, that was the first time he saw her in that outfit. She had done up her make-up more than usual, and her hair was stylized in a way he had only seen her have it in photographs. He put the dress and shoes on the bed. He scribbled a little note to her and put it on top of the dress. The last real conversation he had with her, he had told her, "I don't mind it, you know. You should have just told me." She didn't look at him. She was busy putting on her make-up in the mirror and fixing her hair up. Once it was out, she stopped hiding it in front of him. "It's fine like this, isn't it?" "I think we should...sleep in different rooms from now on." She handed him some papers. "Please look over these while I'm gone. Don't stay up waiting for me. I won't be coming back tonight." He stared down at the papers. When he looked back up at her, she turned away from him. Without a word, she walked towards the door. He opened it for her out of habit and faked a smile. "Have fun." She stared at him like he was crazy. He expected as much. As she left the house, he watched her from the window near the front door. She got in her car and glanced back over at him for a moment. He waved goodbye, but he was sure she didn't notice. After she left, he quietly filled out the paperwork and left it on the kitchen table. Returning to the bedroom, he went straight to bed. Sleep wouldn't come to him. His thoughts raced and every tiny noise in the house disturbed him. Around eleven, he got up and took a few sleeping pills. And again at eleven thirty, and midnight. At one, he took anything in the cabinet he could find to make himself fall asleep. He knew it was reckless, but he didn't keep track of what or how much he was taking. It didn't matter anymore. He wanted to drown out the noise and sleep. When he ran out of pills to take, he stumbled back to the bed, his body feeling strange. Instead of sleep, he only felt more pain. The time after that was blurry in his mind. At some point early in the morning, he finally fell asleep. The last dream he had wasn't about anything in particular. A hazy dizziness and darkness. His mind was as scattered as it had been when he was awake. Sleep hadn't brought him any peace at all. The dream was brief. At the end of the dream, he found himself staring down at his own body. The reality of what he had done gradually dawned on him. A new guilt consumed him. He didn't want her to be the one to find him. As he was, there was nothing he could do to stop it. Morning came as always, and around eleven, strangers came into their home to take his body away. She started crying by the window that night. His former friend stopped visiting after the funeral. He didn't know why. She never mentioned it while she was home. In the time since then, he realized there were ways he could interact with her. He could manipulate the electronics in the house, and write a few words if he concentrated hard enough. Once, he had managed to call her on her cell phone. She was so disturbed by hearing his voice, she collapsed into tears. After that, he stopped testing what he could do. Every night, their ritual began again. She sat by the window, and he would hold her and tell her words she could never hear. It was an entirely pointless event, and she was getting more depressed. With their anniversary only a week away, he had to use those abilities. There was no way he was going to allow her to be trapped in the house too. At six, she got back from work. She was on her cell phone when she came through the door. He listened in on her conversation. "You're really coming over? I don't understand it. I thought you said it didn't feel right after...No, it's fine with me! It's been really lonely...I'll fix dinner. What time? Hmm...around eight? Yeah, that's fine...I'll see you then!" For the first time in the last four months, he saw her smile. Her smile disappeared when she went into the bedroom. Her face went pale. With a shaking hand, she picked up his note. She started to cry again and looked around. "Are you here?" He contemplated what sort of gesture to use to answer her. A quiet one seemed the best option. Concentrating, he touched the side of her face. She flinched. With a whisper she said, "You can go on now. You don't need to stay here. I'm sorry about everything...Please, go rest." He pulled away. Like that night, she was dressed beautifully. His former friend showed up at eight, and the two of them had a quiet dinner together. Conversation was sparse, and not nearly the sort he had wanted them to have. This time, he manipulated the radio in the living room. Choosing the song was easy. They had the same favorite song. Both of them froze when the music started. His former friend gave her a half-hearted smile. "I think someone wants us to dance." He had never been dancing with her. He wasn't any good at it, unlike his former best friend. It used to be one of her favorite pastimes before she started dating him. She never said she resented him for not taking her out dancing, but he always felt guilty for it. The two of them were completely in tune to each other's movements. He couldn't imagine there ever being a more perfect match for her. As he watched them dance, he hummed along to the song freely, knowing no one would hear him. "I'm glad you came. It's been so hard since..." She rested her head against his former friend's chest. "I hate being alone in this house." "Why don't you come stay with me? My place isn't as big as this one, but..." "I can't possibly...would it even be right for me to?" "You can't stay like this. If you do, you'll lose yourself. You need to get away from here, at least for a little while." He stopped and held her close. "I'm sorry I haven't contacted you in all this time. I know I said we should stop seeing each other because of what happened, but really, I was just running away from my own guilt. Every time I saw you, I could only think about him." A tear fell from her face. "I know...I was the same way. Maybe a little while...would be okay..." That night, the two of them left together. He didn't see them for days. A week before New Year's Eve, they returned and started packing up everything in the house. On New Year' Eve, the boxes were loaded into his former friend's truck. With the last boxes of her belongings in hand, the couple left. He stood by the window and watched them, waving goodbye. No one glanced back at the house, their eyes only on each other. Long after they were gone, he never stopped watching for them from the window.
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