It was 6pm and she was right on time. He’d tracked the trains she took often enough to time her arrival home to the minute. He watched her lock the door behind her and sigh. She seemed tired. More than the general end of the week tired that most people get. No, she seemed drained. Maybe it was already starting to get to her.
He held his breath as he watched her throw her keys down on the hall table and reach up to pull out the barrette holding up her hair. It fell in long, curly waves splashing down over her ears and landing with a small bounce on her shoulders. She reached up and tossed it, working out the firmness of the hair style. She did so with such carelessness, as if she didn’t know how exquisite the mane was.
A tear came to his eye as he watched her in the hall mirror. He couldn’t help it, she was breath taking. For just a second he allowed himself to take her in, all of her. No one in her life could appreciate her as much as he did in this moment. No one could know how perfect she was- otherwise why would let her age and decay? It was a heartless facade and he couldn’t stand it. He watched as she tensed her back and readied himself.
She reached down to undue the clasp on her mary jane high heels and he was behind her before she could hear his foot step. He clasped the cloth over her mouth and nose and held her to his body tightly, turning her so that her legs kicked forward into the hallway rather than hitting the table. He couldn’t risk her bruising. She let out a few high pitched whimpers and futilely grabbed at his arms but collapsed before she could exert any real strength. He knelt down and slid her body down to the floor, cradling her in his arms like you would a lover.
It had taken him some time, like all worthwhile things do, to develop the ritual. He took great pains to make each individual death its own unique masterpiece. These were not the murders of callous, hardened criminals. These were the sweet whispers of love laid upon the ear of those on their death beds. There would be no violence, no gore, no cruel dismissal. No, she would know that she was loved.
He laid her down on the floor of her living room, making sure that if she looked up at him she would see her wall of fame in the background. He perused the wall as he laid her out and felt a sharp, almost nauseating pain in his stomach. There before his eyes he could see the process. The smaller pictures, from she was younger, displayed a bright-eyed happy girl. One who was thrilled to be praised and didn’t know of the danger surrounding her. As the quality of the pictures increased he watched the bright look in her eyes fade. Her smile grew less and less as she became taller. The flash of the camera washed out the imperfections of her youth.
He imagined the vultures standing behind the camera lenses, proudly turning her into a product to be consumed. He felt the same rage he always felt as he watched young girls being turned into marketable enterprises and he clenched his fists.
The central picture was large and professionally framed with thick, heavy wood and an ebony finish. It held a tall, stately figure. One who showed all the early signs of the transformation. The smile was still there, but barely. Just a slight curl of the lips displaying an emotion she couldn’t hide. The body was trim, sleek, perfect. She did not yet have the drawn look of a starved model. The skin was too pink and healthy to be that of a real model, but it had lost the glow it displayed in earlier pictures.
But most heartbreaking were her eyes. Blue diamonds that once sparkled with a joy and hunger for life now dimly reflected the light from the camera. He looked down at the still form of the floor and wondered if he was too late to her save her. He said a prayer to himself and swallowed the sob that threatened. No, he would not to be too late. He would bring her back from the precipice and deliver her into the glory of heaven. He would not be too late.