There was an unusual silence that enshrouded Bill and Karina. Bill didn’t think much about the lack of conversation, his mind much more focused on…
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There was an unusual silence that enshrouded Bill and Karina. Bill didn’t think much about the lack of conversation, his mind much more focused on the steak dinner in front of him. He was starving, shoving bite after bite down as if he had just been rescued from the Sahara. It was only when the lights above their booth started to dim that he finally looked at his girlfriend. She sat perfectly still.
“Babe.” He cleared his throat. “Everything okay?” Bill took her in; her jet-black hair was pulled up into a messy bun with a few strands pulled down that brought out her brown eyes. She was dressed in a soft blue oversized sweater, her hands completely engulfed by the sleeves as she rested them on her thigh-covered jeans. Something seemed off, but Bill couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He shrugged it off, sipping at his wine.
“Peachy,” Karina said. She tapped her fingers against her brown purse lightly; a pit had started to develop deep in her stomach.
“You barely touched your food.”
“I’ve lost my appetite.” Karina glanced around the restaurant, looking at the other couples that were enjoying one another. She put her hand under her face and lightly tapped her middle finger against her cheekbones—a nearby lightbulb exploding. Bill flinched, glancing at her slightly curved fingers. She grabbed her glass of water, the ice coldness washing away at her jumbling nerves.
“Do you wanna leave?” Bill looked at her, shoving another piece of steak into his mouth.
“No—” she looked up at him for the first time so that he could see that she was serious— “I wanna leave you.”
“What?” Bill coughed a few times, the steak slipping down the wrong pipe. He grabbed his wine, chugging it down, resisting the urge to spit it back out.
“How are we doing tonight?” a voice called from behind Bill. The waitress made her way around the table, placing her notepad back into the pockets of her black apron. She looked at Bill, but he shot her a thumbs up. She turned to Karina, frowning at her untouched plate. “Is there something wrong with your meal?”
Karina shook her head. “I’m just not that hungry today.”
“Do you want me to box this up for you while he finishes up his food?”
“Yes, please,” she said. “And can I have what he’s drinking?”
“The Pinot, right?” the waitress turned to Bill for confirmation. He nodded; his gaze trained on his girlfriend. “Okay, well, let me go box this up for you—” she grabbed Karina’s dish— “and I’ll be back with your drink.”
Karina nodded, watching as the waitress made her way back into the kitchen. She turned her attention back to her boyfriend, who seemed confused. She flashed him a smile, one that sent an eerie shiver down his spine.
“Did you just dump me?” Bill’s eyebrow furrowed as if he was trying to solve a puzzle.
“You know why.”
“Humor you?” She said in disbelief.
“Yes, humor me.”
“Okay.” She laughed to herself, glancing at Bill, who waited expectantly. She popped back the button from the inside of her purse, grabbed at her small wooden box, and placed it gently on the table. Swirls of blue-painted dandelions were etched around the perimeter, her name perfectly carved in the center.
“Rina…,” he trailed off. His mind had gone blank, his mouth dry. This was not how he pictured their evening going tonight.
“Don’t,” she said. “I think that’s a good enough explanation, don’t you think?” She stared at him, her brown eyes meeting his dark green ones, as she willed herself not to cry. Nonetheless, she still felt her eyes watering slightly.
“Here’s that Pinot,” the waitress said, startling the pair. She held up an opened wine bottle and an empty glass. Karina used the distraction to swipe away at her eyes. She didn’t want to risk her makeup running across her cheeks. Better to leave with some type of dignity.
The waitress set the empty glass on the table, slowly pouring the white wine. “I have your food already packed up, so whenever you guys are ready to leave, I’ll fetch it.” Karina nodded, her gaze now fixated on the wine glass. The waitress pulled the wine bottle back. That was definitely not enough.
“A little bit more, please,” Karina said. The waitress glanced at her, nodding as she poured more into the wine glass that was now more than half full. “Thank you.”
The waitress smiled, holding out the wine bottle to Bill.
“No, I’m good. Thank you.”
“Well, I’ll be back later to check on everything,” the waitress said. The pair didn’t say anything, watching as she grabbed the wine bottle and went back towards the kitchen.
“So, where were we?” Karina asked. “Oh right, I’m done. I’m completely done with you.”
“Karina,” Bill said. He reached his hand across the table, trying to grab at hers, but she leaned back into the comfort of her leather seat.
“You,” Karina said, stopping herself.
Her eyes had started to lighten, her brown irises morphing into a dangerous amber. All she wanted to do was break his hand, no—his entire body. She wanted to break him down to the very atoms he was made up of, but it would be pointless. He would never truly understand her pain, and he would always put himself back together. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, focusing on the soft thump of her own heartbeat. She let out a deep sigh, opening her eyes again once she felt she was under control. She grabbed her wine glass, gulping down half of it.
“You ruined the last thing that I had left of my mother,” Karina said, sitting the glass down.
“I didn’t mean to,” Bill said. His gaze was focused on the unopened box. He couldn’t bear to meet her eyes.
Karina chuckled, her eyes lifeless. “It was bad enough that you took that concubine before our affliction—”
“Victoria meant nothing to me,” Bill said, cutting her off.
“Nothing,” she said, spitting the word back at him.
Karina balled up her fist, feeling the soft buzz in her mind from the wine starting to take effect, and forced her hand open—the wooden box’s lid popping open to reveal the photos. Bill glanced at the photos from a distance, fearing she’ll slam his hand inside of the box if he reached for them. His eyes ran over the photos on top, each one had been taken in a different era, but the people in the picture were the same. The most recent was taken in a snowy park. Bill stood behind Victoria, his arms wrapped around her waist. Her bright red hair was caked with snowflakes, with the top of her head resting underneath Bill’s chin. How lovely.
“Bill,” Karina said, her voice eerily calm. “I want you to look at me, really look at me.” Bill slowly raised his eyes to meet hers. He knew she was disgusted by him. “That’s it. This will be the last time you ever see my face. Don’t worry, I’ll still do my part with this world and trust that you’ll still do yours—”
“You can’t just leave me,” Bill said, cutting her off for the second time. Karina’s eyes flashed to a glowing amber as she tried to get her breath back under control. Bill reached forward to close the box, but it snapped shut before he could even touch it. “What about your oath to me?”
“Why are you so selfish? I swore an oath to God, not you!” Karina said, startling a nearby couple. Bill flashed a smile at them, silently assuring them everything was fine. Karina grabbed her wine glass, chugging down the rest of it. She stared at it absentmindedly. “You know,” she said. “I gave up the love of my life for you because we were chosen— destined to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Do you know how rare that is? To already know your purpose in life before it even starts.” Karina’s eyes dimmed as her eyes watered. “Of course, you don’t. Instead, you want to play with a dead whore’s shadow and keep her memory alive in my mother’s box.”
Karina reached across the table, grabbing the wooden box. She opened it up slowly, taking out all the photos that were shoved inside, leaving her mother’s old hair combs behind. She held the stack in between her fingers, flicking it towards Bill, each one starting to burn. Bill grabbed at her glass of water, the glass quickly sliding across the table and into his hand. He dumped the water on the photos, getting rid of the small fire, but the photos were now stained with her burn.
Karina stared behind him, waiting for the waitress to notice her, and gestured for the check. Bill held his head down, trying to think of anything that he could say to keep her.
“You can’t leave me,” Bill said. “We’ll both be alone.”
“No,” Karina said, shaking her head. “I’ll be alone. You’ll have your fleeting moments with Victoria’s reincarnations, bound by love to watch her die over and over again, never truly able to be with her. It’s quite poetic, really, when you think about it.”
“You would spend eons alone just to spite me?” Bill asked. He grabbed his wine glass, taking a small sip. He felt like throwing up. Karina picked up her box, put it back into her purse, and pulled the straps up along her arm.
“That is not spite,” Karina said, leaning across the table. “Spite would be me wiping out her entire bloodline, so her soul has nothing left to come back to.”
“You wouldn’t,” Bill said.
“Here’s your food,” the waitress said, placing the brown bag in front of her. She reached into her apron, pulling out the black leather folder. “Take your time. There’s no rush.”
Karina smiled at the waitress, waiting until she retreated back into the kitchen. Bill dug into his pockets, throwing cash on top of the folder. Karina slid out of her booth, pushing the purse back up her shoulder. Bill slid out of his quickly, grabbing at her arm. Karina put her hand on the side of his face, taking him in one last time.
“Montana, Oklahoma, and Nebraska,” Karina said. His eyes met hers, no doubt confused as to what those states meant. “That’s where her descendants are.” She pulled him in for a hug, his body tense underneath her warm touch. “And I would shred each and every one of them until there is nothing left but dust if you don’t let me go.” Karina pulled away from Bill and picked up her bag from the table. She cleared her throat, shaking off the feeling of uncertainty. “I hope she’s worth the solitude,” Karina backed away from him. “I really do.”
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