Pick Your Poison II
I had always thought I would be ready for death. It never scared me. I didn’t get that chill most people got when pondering the idea. But when it was staring me in the face….
When I had the option to let it consume me or be tortured for the rest of my life, I chose to survive. Not live, just survive.
He must have found it amusing based on the way he laughed as I reached for the bowl that wasn’t poisoned. Like his game was only going to get better.
After that, he went back to making me gamble with my life. He kept it up for days. Every morning I felt a chill as I wondered if it would be my last. Every evening I cried to myself until I passed out.
I had lost count. I didn’t know how many days I had been there, nor did I want to.
I sat at the dining table, two dishes in front of me. Roast chicken with a tomato and mozzarella salad on both. They looked delicious.
He sat across the table from me with his elbows resting on the glass tabletop and his chin in his palm. He kept his eyes on me. He used to have a small smile that lingered on his lips as I made my choice, but it started to fade and now his eyes hardened as I looked between the two.
I pulled the one on the right closer.
He let out a sigh and shook his head. “Amazing.” He pushed himself up from his chair. “You are truly amazing. A miracle really.” He walked over, picked up the other plate and carried it back to the kitchen to dump in the trash. “If you ever make it out, you should really be canonized.”
I muttered to my plate, “You have to be dead to be canonized.”
His chuckle from the kitchen behind me made it clear, he already knew that.
I dug my fork in and stuffed my face as fast as I could. He was letting me eat in the dining room now, and it was nice to get out of my room from time to time, but I didn’t want to spend time with him.
I pushed up from the table just as he was returning from washing the other plate. “Excuse me.”
He laughed and looked me over. “Don’t want dessert?”
“I’d rather not tempt fate more than I need to.”
He gave me a nod, and I turned to go to my room.
I could feel his eyes boring into my back as I left, but I refused to let him see me shudder. I needed my small victories.
He walked in with two mugs and set them on the bedside table. “Good morning.” He wasn’t his usual cheery self. His voice was quiet and his eyes were dark. He kept glancing down at the drinks then up at me until he set them on the bedside table.
I didn’t bother to look, I just reached out for one.
He grabbed my wrist as my hand hovered over a mug. I flinched, but didn’t try to pull my hand back. I looked up at him, my heart pounding so hard I could hear it in my ears.
He was staring down at the coffees.
His fingers unfurled from my wrist and he picked up the drink I was about to choose.
“W-wait!” I reached out for it as he backed up.
He shook his head. “I’ve changed my mind.”
“I don’t want you to die.”
My mouth hung open as I stared at him. I almost died–no, he wants me to die. He‘s lying.
His shoulders slumped forward, and he went to dump it out in my bathroom.
I didn’t trust him. I couldn’t trust him. Either he was truthful and wanted to keep me as his pet forever, or he was lying. Done with me. Ready to see me convulse on the floor for an hour.
I could picture it. He would sit on the edge of the bed with that smile on his face like he had won as I clawed at the floor, foaming at the mouth.
“Give it back!” I screamed at him. I don’t know why I wanted that one. Maybe it was because I had been lucky so far and hoped it would continue. Maybe because I really was done.
He side stepped me as I ran after him.
It was too late. The mug was empty. There was nothing I could do.
I sank to the floor, my voice cracking as I continued to yell, “Just let me die!”
He crouched down in front of me and stroked his knuckles down my cheek. “I already gave you the option. Didn’t I, baby?” He spoke like he was trying to soothe me. Like I was some child throwing a fit.
My chin quivered and my stomach knotted. So he was taking my only chance of escape. Or was he forcing it on me?
He kissed my forehead and stood up to leave me alone again.
Bile rose from the depths of my gut. It burned my chest and stung my throat as it fought its way up. I scrambled to the toilet and grasped the sides.
I began to wretch, dry heaving mostly. I hadn’t eaten all night and there wasn’t enough in my stomach for this to pass easily.
If I had drank the coffee, I would have had something to throw up. I wouldn’t drink it though. The chances it was poisoned may have been the same, but I couldn’t.
Instead, I was crouched in the bathroom waiting for my stomach to catch up with the rest of my body.
It never did, and I hobbled back to bed, gagging every few steps.
I stayed in bed almost all day. I even ignored him through lunch, refusing whatever it was he brought me by staring out at the mountains.
By evening, I had unlocked my joints and gotten up from bed, though I had only made it over to the window. I was watching the breeze race over the golden grass, letting myself think over what I was going to do.
My stomach felt empty, but I wasn’t hungry. Starving myself didn’t seem such a bad option if it felt like this.
He opened the door and smiled when he saw me standing. He was carrying a plate of pasta puttanesca. It smelled divine, but my stomach didn’t want it. Even if he hadn’t poisoned it.
He set it on the dresser and walked over to drop his hands on my shoulders and look out the window with me.
I shrugged his hands off and he let out a soft laugh.
I tried to sidle past him, but he slammed his hand against the wall to stop me.
“Trying to ignore me?” He cupped my chin in his fingers and tried to turn my face toward his.
I jerked my head away. A mistake. He snatched my jaw and slammed me against the wall.
I let out a cry as my head hit the plaster behind me and made a crack. I tried clawing at his hand as he leaned his weight forward until he was pressed against me and pinning me to the wall.
His breath brushed against my skin as he leaned forward to whisper in my ear, “Don’t do this to me.” His lips grazed my cheek as he pulled back to look at me again.
He didn’t look angry. He never looked angry, like every disobedience was an amusement to him. Everything I did played into his little game.
He leaned in and kissed me. I would rather have his poison. I stopped trying to push him off and grasped his wrist to support my weight as my knees gave out beneath me.
He whipped me around and flung me onto the bed. I didn’t dare run away, but I did try to scoot back as he meandered over to the edge of the bed, fiddling with his shirt buttons. Popping them open one at a time.
I shook my head and held one hand out. “Please.”
“You know,” Another button undone. “You should really kiss back.” Another. And another. Until he flung his shirt off and climbed onto the bed over me.
“N-no. Please!” I pressed my hands against his chest. Not hard enough to stop him, but enough to give him some resistance. “I’m sorry. I’m s-so sorry!”
He leaned over me, supporting himself with one hand and undoing his belt with the other. “Then show me.”
I let him kiss me and push me down to the bed as I thought over my options. Scream and fight. Lie there and do nothing. Give him what he wanted. Each had their own unique outcome. Each was bad. “Pick your poison,” as he would say. It was all poison.
I kissed him back. I closed my eyes and pretended he was someone else. Anyone else. Though it was hard with his cologne forcing itself on me.
Every once in a while I’d drift off to a sort of nowhere place in my head, and he’d wrap his fingers around my throat and jerk my face back up to his with a smile. Then he’d drag his fingers across my skin, reclaiming my body all over again.
He wouldn’t let me be a husk of myself, so I began to cry, but I still dug my fingers into his hair like I wanted to be there.
“What is it?” He spoke with his lips grazing my throat. I could feel him smiling against my skin.
I swallowed, begging my voice to be steady. “Y-you.”
“What about me?” He was trying to get me to mess up. Get me to snap and scream at him or slap him or anything that gave him the right to rip me apart.
I could barely whisper it. I pulled his face closer to mine so he couldn’t see me cringe. “I want you.” It disgusted me, but I said it knowing it would keep him docile.
He laughed and dragged his thumb across my lips. “No, you don’t, but I appreciate the effort.”
I must have won him over with my pathetic attempt at stroking his ego. Perhaps he found it endearing, but he was done with me shortly thereafter.
I slid out of bed and waddled with my legs clamped together to the bathroom. I went straight to the bathtub and turned on the water so hot I worried it might actually burn me.
He walked in, his pants already on and tugging his shirt over his arms. I watched him finish buttoning it up.
He sat down on the edge of the tub and traced my jaw with his fingers. “You look at me like I’m not gentle.” That’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how gentle you are if the other person doesn’t even want you touching them. I’d rather have his version of “gentle” over having him beat me and yank my hair around though.
I ate that night, and it didn’t kill me. It seemed to make him happy when he returned to get the plate. In fact, he was in such a good mood, I found the courage to ask if I could cook with him the next day.
He said yes.
The room came into focus. Slowly at first. Everything was a bit of a fog, but then I saw her and my eyes began to adjust. She was wearing one of my button-downs and leaning over my laptop.
I let out a groan. My head was throbbing and I tried to reach up to the spot hurting, but my hands were tied down to armrests. I wriggled my ankles. They were tied too.
I dropped my head and chuckled to myself. It caught her attention and she looked back over her shoulder at me. She shot me a brilliant smile and tapped one of the keys so music started wafting through the air. It was some upbeat pop playlist she had found.
She whipped around to face me and started dancing. A dance I would have appreciated much more if I hadn’t been tied to a chair.
“What’s this? A free show?”
She wiggled up to me and grinned in my face. “Something like that.”
I looked around at my kitchen. I swore I had just been standing over the stove cooking, but now I was restrained and half naked. “Can I have my shirt back?”
She ran her hands down the front, swaying side to side and popping one of the buttons open. “You don’t like it on me?” She pouted at me.
I knew full well I had to do everything right. This time, I was playing her game. “You look great. I just really want to take it off of you.”
She reached over to the counter beside me and began to fiddle with what sounded like two metal objects. I tried to crane my neck around to watch her hands, but it wasn’t until she held them up to my face that I could see them.
A paring knife and a pair of pliers.
A grin spread across her face and she let out a giggle. “Pick your poison.” She spoke so sweetly, mimicking me. Mocking me.
I could feel the blood drain from my face as I looked between them. She had to see the look of terror in my eyes, but that didn’t mean I was going to act scared. “What happens if I pick neither?”
She traced my jaw with the blade of the knife. “You have to pick.”
I sat there in silence staring up at her.
“Or I’ll just use both.”
I swallowed, weighing my options. “The knife….” I liked my smile too much to let her use pliers on me.
She set the pliers aside and pressed the tip of the knife against my chest, her smile growing. When we had first met, months ago, she was this sweet little thing. Kind, caring. The type of person everyone loves. But now…I had truly broken her.
I had to plead with her. As pathetic as it felt, I had no other choice. “You don’t want–”
“I do.” She dug the tip into my skin as she spoke. “It’s my turn to have fun.”
I ground my teeth together and let out a hiss as she pierced my skin. Then she whipped the knife across my chest, and I just barely held in my scream. At least I kept my knives sharp.
My chest was searing, but I couldn’t give up. Not yet. Not when my pet was trying to make me her toy. “If this is what you’re into, you could’ve just asked.”
She ran her fingers along my forehead and to the sore spot on my temple. I definitely had a bruise. She must have slammed something against my head when I wasn’t looking.
She dug her fingers into it. That time I did scream.
She yanked her hand back. “I’m sorry. Does it hurt?” She slammed her hand down on mine to straighten out my fingers. “Maybe I can distract you.”
Her eyes went wide with joy as she positioned the tip of the knife below my nail.
“No!” I started to struggle against the ropes. “Wait!”
She shot a glare at me, pure venom, and whispered, “You move too much, and it won’t be clean.” She dug the knife in.
Even if I had wanted to stay still, I couldn’t. I started thrashing and screaming until the chair fell back and I slammed my head on the tile.
She heaved me back up and wedged the chair against the counter, then went back to work, prying my nails up one by one. She didn’t even look like she could hear me screaming. She was humming to the music.
When she got tired of my nails, she switched to my chest and thighs. Always starting with the tip balanced against my skin, but she swapped between making it a quick cut or dragging it through my flesh slowly. At one point she even slid the blade across my forehead. Blood began pouring down my face, obscuring my view of her.
She went on so long the music stopped and we were both drenched in my sweat and blood. I was panting with my head dropped back as she straightened up to look me over.
My shirt was ruined. Her hair was tinged red. My kitchen looked more like a butcher shop.
She held the point to my throat and stared at me.
I didn’t want her to do it, but I didn’t have it in me to beg. I just looked up at her, shaking my head.
She pulled the knife back and flung it aside.
I could feel her skin burning as she wedged her knees on either side of me between my legs and the armrests. She lifted her body up to kneel over me. Her fingers traced my bruise. Delicate this time, as if she cared about my pain.
She grabbed my jaw and leaned in to kiss me. She kissed me like it would draw my soul from my mouth so she could consume it. She kissed me like all those times I had kissed her. I almost liked seeing her have that much power.
Her lips grazed mine as she whispered, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want you to die.” She draped herself across my lap, legs over one arm, back arching over the other, and started playing with my hair.
I’m sure it would have been a beautiful sight, had I not been the one she was torturing.
I always need to thank my husband. He sees the bulk of the changes I make. He reads the roughest drafts and often reads these multiple times. He always celebrates every accomplishment.
Thank you to Ami (@babyvampami) for the hype and support. Your contributions really made the story.
Kaya (@KETomash) for all of your input, suggestions, and letting me bounce ideas off you.