Graduation Night, continued....
Maggie’s heart jumped in her chest when she heard the doorbell ring. She was hoping it was Adam, returning from Roger’s, and he had forgotten his keys. She was so excited, she threw open the door without even asking who it was. When the door opened, she was shocked to see a stunningly beautiful young woman standing before her.
“Hi,” the woman said hesitantly. “Is... uh, Adam here?”
Maggie’s mouth felt dry. She had never seen a woman who looked like this in real life. Even back in high school, Maggie hadn’t been nearly as beautiful as this woman. And she had a sinking feeling who this woman was. “Uh... no.”
The young woman blushed. “I’m sorry to bother you, but... my name is Brynne. I... I’m Adam’s girlfriend.”
Those were the words Maggie had been dreading. This gorgeous creature was the person that Adam had broken up with to be with her. It was almost mind-boggling. Maggie felt her head start to pound slightly and she felt a little bit dizzy. “Hi,” she managed.
“Can I... come in?” Brynne asked.
Maggie nodded and stepped back. Brynne entered the apartment in a puff of sweet-smelling perfume. Maggie couldn’t remember the last time she herself had worn perfume.
“Are you... a friend of Adam’s?” Brynne asked Maggie.
“Yes,” Maggie said tonelessly. “An old friend,” she added. “I’m staying here for a few days.”
Brynne, being polite: “What’s your name?”
As Brynne sat down on the couch, Maggie couldn’t help but study her. She judged her age to be around twenty and she was a good three inches taller than Maggie. She really was completely perfect looking to the point that Maggie was in awe. Even as attractive as Adam was with women, how did he wind up with a girl like this? And more importantly, how could he have given her up?
“I guess I should tell you what this is all about,” Brynne said, her face flushed.
Maggie sat down on a chair, ignoring the threatening creak it made. She didn’t want to hear what Brynne had to say, but she didn’t have much of a choice.
“Adam and I have been having... some problems lately,” Brynne began. “I’m not sure how much you know, but he’s been having some... health issues. I’m very worried about him.”
Brynne’s eyes welled up with tears. “It’s just that... I love him very much. He’s the most wonderful guy I’ve ever met. And... I’m afraid that something’s happened to him.”
Maggie swallowed hard. She could hear the deep emotion in this girl’s voice. Brynne clearly loved Adam very much. Maggie wondered if he knew exactly how much. “What do you think has happened?”
“Well,” Brynne rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, “I was supposed to meet this friend of his, Roger, tonight to discuss what was going on. But... Roger never showed up. I don’t know... I just got this bad feeling that... that something terrible had happened...”
Maggie frowned in confusion. Roger was supposed to meet Brynne? But Adam had said he was meeting with Roger tonight. What was going on here? Who was mistaken? It was hard to believe that Roger would have stood up a woman like Brynne. So what had happened to Roger?
“I’m sorry for acting this way,” Brynne sniffled, trying to get her tears under control. “I’m not usually such a baby, really.” She tried to smile. “I just... I’ve never felt this way about a guy before. I mean, you’re a woman... you probably know what I’m talking about.” She took a deep breath. “I love Adam so much, I really do. And the next time I see him, I’m going to make sure he understands that.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Maggie murmured, unable to look Brynne in the eyes. Adam really was crazy. Here was a sweet, beautiful young woman who was deeply in love with him and he had turned her down. And for what? For some fat pig, just because he had liked her back in high school? Adam had some romantic notion about Maggie and it was just a matter of time before he realized he was deluding himself. Maggie didn’t want to be there for that realization. She didn’t think she could handle something like that.
“Are you okay?” Brynne asked Maggie.
“I... I’m fine,” Maggie said quickly. “I was just thinking that... Adam is really lucky to have you.”
Brynne smiled sadly. “We were supposed to be moving in together, before all this happened.”
Maggie felt sick. Adam hadn’t told her Brynne had been moving in with him, that liar.
This felt wrong to her. Ever since Adam had professed his love to her, she had been walking on a cloud. But she had been wrong to get so excited. It wasn’t real. Brynne and Adam had a real relationship together. Maggie was just part of some high school fantasy. Once Adam had a chance to think it over, he had to realize that.
But do I love him? Maggie wondered. The answer was the same as it had been since they were fifteen years old: YES. She loved him with every bone in her body. More than anyone else in the world.
She loved him enough to want him to do what was best for himself.
“Do you know where Adam is right now?” Brynne asked. “I really want to see him.”
Maggie shook her head. “He should be back soon,” she said.
Maggie felt a nagging twinge of worry in the pit of her stomach. Something was going on, she felt almost sure of it. The thought of something bad happening to Adam was like a knife in the chest, even if they couldn’t be together. Roger was obviously capable of anything...
I’m being paranoid, Maggie thought to herself. But still, maybe I should give Roger a call...
The first year after Adam’s accident, he was almost never in a wheelchair in his dreams. Usually in his dreams, he’d be on his own two feet as usual, then he’d wake up confused and thinking he could walk right out of bed as usual. Until he saw the wheelchair by his bed and remembered.
After that, his disability became more and more integrated into his dreams. Now he couldn’t even remember the last time he had a dream where he could walk. Walking simply wasn’t a part of his life anymore. It wasn’t even a possibility. If the wheelchair wasn’t by his bed in the morning, he would feel alarm rather than relief, because it was supposed to be there.
However, when Joy shot him, Adam had his first dream in years where he was able to walk. In the dream, he and Maggie, slim Maggie, were walking alongside the beach together, which is something they had done several times when they were teenagers. Except now when he took her hand, she didn’t pull away. Instead she laced her fingers into his and he was filled with contentment.
But all the while, Adam had the sense that something was wrong. As his feet dug into the hot sand, he couldn’t help but think to himself, I shouldn’t be able to do this. Maggie pulled him along, walking faster and faster, and he followed her, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Then finally he figured it out. He turned to her and said, Maggie, where’s my wheelchair?
What are you talking about? Maggie laughed. You don’t need a wheelchair. You’re not a cripple.
No, I do, Adam insisted. As he spoke, he felt his legs weakening and giving way beneath him. He fell to his knees on the sand.
He could still crawl and he knew he had to get off the beach and find his chair before he lost his legs entirely. But as he crawled away from the water, he could tell it was a lost cause. His body collapsed beneath him.
At that moment, Adam woke up.
It was the second instance in a short period of time that he woke up in a bed with his arms restrained. Except this time there were handcuffs on his wrists that kept him chained to the bedposts. All of his clothes had been removed. His legs were, of course, unrestrained and lying on clean white sheets.
Adam looked up and saw Joy was standing over the bed, staring down at him. He felt a thrill of fear in his chest. “Interesting body you have,” she commented. She touched the skin of his thigh, which was nearly as thin as her forearm. “I remember at the trial the doctor testified that you might be able to walk again in thirty years. I remember being angry about that, thinking that Shannon would never come back, not in thirty years, not ever.” She dug her nails into his kneecap and he didn’t bat an eye. “You’re not going to ever walk again, are you?”
Adam shook his head slowly.
“I went to high school with you guys, you know,” Joy said. “I was a freshman when you were a senior.” She touched the scar across his abdomen, where his muscles began to fade. “You didn’t know me, but I knew you. I thought you were pretty cute, actually. Well, all the girls did.”
“Thanks,” Adam said quietly. He was afraid to say too much. He didn’t know what might set her off.
“I’m going to ask you an honest question, Adam,” Joy said, “and I want you to give me an honest answer.”
“Do you think it was right that Roger suffered no consequences for what he did to my sister?”
Adam chose his words carefully. This woman was clearly unstable and he had no idea what she intended to do to him. He didn't want her to kill him. He wanted to get out of this alive so that he could go back to his Maggie. He only hoped that if she had intended to kill him, she would have done it already. “I don’t think it was right,” Adam said. “I made a mistake and I was trying to correct it when I told David Richards I’d testify.”
He could see from Joy’s face it was the wrong answer. “That’s bullshit,” she said. “You never would have agreed to testify if I hadn’t sent you those threatening letters.”
“Only because I wasn’t thinking about it...”
Joy’s eyes darkened. “You weren’t thinking about? How convenient.”
She held up her hand. “I don’t want to hear anymore.”
Joy stood up and pulled back a curtain that was going through the center of the room. On the other side of the curtain, Adam saw that Roger was lying in a bed of his own. His eyes were wide and frightened and there was tape over his mouth. His arms were restrained like Adam’s and his legs... his legs were gone.
“Holy shit...” Adam breathed.
Joy pulled the tape off Roger’s mouth and he sighed with relief, gasping for air. His eyes filled with tears. “Joy,” he pleaded, “let us go...”
Joy laughed. “Oh, Roger... Roger darling... you are so funny. You really think I’m going to let you go? Well, I will eventually. But first... first, I’m going to cut off your arms too.” She winked. “Adam’s too.”
Roger began crying and pleading with Joy, but Adam just lay there in disbelief. How could this be happening? Was she really going to go through with this?
“Joy, please!” Roger was sobbing. “Please don’t do this. Please, we’re already cripples. Please... I’m begging you. I’ll do anything you want, Joy. Anything. Adam, tell her...”
“Shut the fuck up, Rog,” Adam said.
Joy was going to do this. She was really going to do it and there was nothing either of them could do to stop her. This was Joy’s revenge. And to some extent, she deserved it. They had taken her sister, who was also someone’s mother and someone’s wife. They deserved what they had coming to them.
“You’re first, Roger,” Joy said, smiling sweetly in his direction.
Brad Richards entered the room at that moment, carrying a load of what appeared to be medical equipment, probably to stop the bleeding. He nodded his head in Adam’s direction.
Adam turned his face away as Roger continued to scream and cry. He heard the growl of a saw and shut his eyes. Roger’s screams escalated and then faded out. Roger must have fainted.
He remembered thinking how he would have given his arms up to see Maggie again. Now it seemed like he had gotten his wish. He had finally gotten his Maggie and this was the price he had to pay. And the strange thing was, as long as he had her, he could accept it.
Adam flexed his fingers, thinking about how very soon he wouldn’t be able to do this anymore. I won’t scream, he vowed, as long as they don’t kill me, I’ll take my punishment like a man.
The curtain was pulled again and Adam couldn’t see Roger’s mutilated body. Joy emerged from behind the curtain, covered with blood. She looked down sadly at Adam’s naked body. “I’m sorry I have to do this to you,” she said.
“Then don’t,” Adam said.
“I’ll tell you what,” Joy said, “I’ll leave you with longer stumps than Roger. Maybe you’ll be able to use prosthetics.”
Adam bit his lip hard as she turned on the saw and brought it down on him. The pain was worse than he could have imagined and he tasted blood in his mouth. Eventually, he passed out.
To be continued....