He wasn’t just dark. He was eccentrically wired weird. The last therapist he saw diagnosed him with bipolar disorder and he spoke casually about his lithium. Most seemed to ignore his presence while others were put off by him but not Mindy; she was infatuated.
“He’s mysterious.” She told her best friend.
“Yeah if you like that kind of weird.” Her best friend Julie wasn’t amused.
One could say that Mindy was aroused by his dark presence; he wore a trench coat with an upward kind of collar about the neck and he openly told her that his wing-span was longer than he was tall.
“Josh,” she said once down the college hall, “wait up.”
They had psychology together. He knew most the answers and was a real authentic brainchild. She doted on his extra stellar psyche; both of the intellect and the bizarre way his brain output the data; the way his personality would challenge normality.
He had moods. He had inner conflict of turmoil and chaos but he wasn’t suffering; Josh had eyes behind his favorite black noir eye liner that accentuated his aura of mystique. He had pale blue eyes behind the pale tone of his skin. He had a thick frayed nylon belt that buckled with a clasp of metal.
“He’s just generic.” Julie told Mindy.
Mindy walked aside his tall and limber frame and when they parked themselves at the table she fastened his thick, long, blonde hair into a black hair band and he looked casually at her.
“You know you’re dark and sinister aren’t you?” He was cool and casual.
Mindy never thought of herself as mysterious; she felt generic and unoriginal.
The beauty was his obsession for her; he liked her because he liked everything he could see on the outside; he found her exquisite. She was kind of the hipster in blue jeans, white tank top and open-toed shoes; it was hot and humid but he wore his coat to feel more like himself.
He smelled good to her like sugar and candy. Something of apple and caramel. He didn’t give away the scent but she figured incense and potpourri. He liked to meditate he confided, over a candle flame, because his bizarre and twisted mind would not rest.
Josh had thoughts of suicide as a constant because he couldn’t see the world from a lens of a blank canvas; there was always in any moment a time for danger.
One time he saw a man get hit by a bus as he walked his way toward campus only to find out that Mr. Murphy, the Psych teacher, was hit by a bus that day.
He didn’t understand his constant state of foreboding; the premonitions kept him awake at night. He felt like a bad omen; almost, always, he could sense death. He told his roomate of his fate once before his actual death, “don’t go into the city,” he said and his roomate perished amid the garbage among the junkies; he himself had been a junky until the premonitions invaded his sleep. He gave up the needles and preferred to fantasize instead; he thought of Mindy and wanted her deeply; he wanted to taste her blood.
He asked her if she could bleed and “of course” she said, and she let him cut her with a small incision across the neck. She wasn’t bitter but sultry and kinda like lithium; he supposed that’s why he liked to taste her. She returned the favor when she salted his navel and bit into him. She didn’t need blood but took shots from his stomach; he fed her lemons with fingers tipping the tequila.
His mood, high one day, had a mind that raced before time; he saw in a vision of hysteria the death of her. He threw himself into the bed and wrapped his unholy wing-span around her rain-soaked shoulders. He didn’t let her leave; she stayed with him, into his safety, and the car that was to explode was pushed into the creek; she collected the insurance.
Josh couldn’t watch television because his mind interfered with the broadcast. “I’m a real live radio head,” he told her one day after his frazzled state shut down the computer system he was working on; his brainwaves were like electricity but he couldn’t convince anyone except for Mindy.
Her death was too tragic; he saw her suffocating in the depths of a well. He didn’t get it.
“What well?” She drank of the tequila.
He grabbed the bottle from her fresh lips and broke it onto the concrete.
Oh“Why did you just throw that out the window?”
He put his head to her heart. He cut her and licked each drop of her blood until he could speak again.
“I had a premonition.”
She was to drown behind the bottle.
He would die to save her.
She felt a cold chill come down her back when she rolled over and was breathless beneath the dark shadow that consumed him.
“What is it?” She said, not wanting to leave him. His body was cold.
She felt for him, somewhere around the neck, for a pulse that didn’t seem to be there. She rubbed her hands all over his stiff and elongated body until she could pry open his mouth and speak words that would fall upon deaf ears. Mindy threw herself onto his body and he moved slightly, like a tremor, at first.
“Come back to me.” She said subtly until she could find his heart.
At his first breath his eyes were still a glaze and she put the salt to his mouth for him to taste and she kissed him.
When that was not enough she drew her blood and fed him of it; his mouth was consumed in crimson and he nudged her with his trembling hands; “if I cannot see death then maybe they don’t die…”
“They don’t die because you see death.” She whispered in his ear. “What did you take?”
“Too much lithium” he confided and it seemed her blood was the antidote to save him.
“If you are saved then they won’t die.” She was firm in his living.
The night overcame them like a deep sleep to pass the time. That’s when he left his body. That’s when he could see them; all of them. He knew precisely when they were to die. Even in his nightmares he would go mad; he shuttered in his sleep and she could not soothe him; he convulsed at the sight of pain when they would all be murdered; those who die in the asylum.
“No, they closed that place down!” She was adamant.
But he refused to believe her.
“Here, try some lithium.” She tried to console him. “Your visions are now of the past!”
They were already dead.
“They won’t die again.” He uttered faintly from his body that perspired in salt and liquor.
“No, my sweet, beautiful phantom…”
“Phantom.” He mused
In the hollow of a lost little paradise she took him to the well, “it was in this well where they died,” and he knew that she had a dark and sinister past because he could see them all… each and every one.
Candace Meredith earned her Bachelor of Science degree in English Creative Writing from Frostburg State University in the spring of 2008. Her works of poetry, photography and fiction have appeared in literary journals Bittersweet, The Backbone Mountain Review, The Broadkill Review, In God’s Hands/ Writers of Grace, A Flash of Dark, Greensilk Journal, Saltfront, Mojave River Press and Review, Scryptic Magazine, Unlikely Stories Mark V, The Sirens Call Magazine, The Great Void, Foreign Literary Magazine, Lion and Lilac Magazine, Snow Leopard Publishing, BAM Writes and various others. Candace currently resides in Virginia with her two sons and her daughter, her fiancé and their three dogs and six cats. She has earned her Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) from West Virginia University. Website: www.candacemeredithbooks.com