This is a short story that I first posted on Yahoo!Voices. Hope you enjoy it.
MEN OF THE HOUSE
Tom took his place in the group, listening as each spoke in turn, starting with the youngest. He heard each of the men repeat the same comment.
“She warned me that she wasn’t good at taking rejection.”
He was the oldest of the ten of them here, and the newest member of this little club. Each man had his story to tell, and every story ended the same way. Here, in this house, with its glass wall and cardboard roof.
Tom cleared his throat when it was it was his turn to speak. “She was so pretty when I first spotted her, sitting at the edge of the bar. Cliché, huh? But there she was, and I couldn’t resist. We had everything in common. It was spooky, even then.”
Nods all around as they each remembered meeting her for the first time. The beginning of the end for them.
“She was great, that beautiful smile, those long legs.”
“And such a great cook.”
“Always telling me how great I was, feeding my stupid male ego.”
Then Michael, the youngest member of the group, spoke up. “She changed pretty quickly, though. Remember? One minute she was the perfect woman, and in the blink of an eye, she was suffocating me. Jealous of my friends, jealous of TV, jealous of my work. At first, I tried to pass it off, tried to be understanding. I kept telling myself she had trust issues because her Dad had deserted her when she was ten. It helped for a while, but pretty soon, I couldn’t take it anymore, and tried to break it off. Ended up here, like this.”
“How long have you been here?” Tom asked, fearing the answer he so badly needed to hear. He needed to know how long he would be imprisoned like this.
“Well, I was the first one here. I’m seventeen. She collects one of us each year. Each one is a year older than the man that came before. You are, what did you say? 27? Then I have been here ten years. She collects one a year, that’s how we keep track of time.”
“What do you mean ‘I’m seventeen’? If you have been here that long, wouldn’t you be my age?”
Michael reached out, touching Tom’s shoulder. “That would be nice if we aged, wouldn’t it? Then, we could wait for death to release us.”
Tom felt the color leave his face as he nodded. “She told me that I would always be hers.”
“And you will. And you will always stay the same age as you are now.” Michael warned, the others nodding in doomed agreement.
The noise from the other side of the wall stopped them. She was not alone. They were instantly in their places, paralyzed, as she flipped on the light.
She led the way into room, and both of them were standing on the other side of the glass wall, like giants.
“Belinda, what’s that?” He bent over, looking right at them.
“It’s a hobby of mine, Steve.” Her voice was sweet, seductive. “I collect the men in my life.” She spoke with a smile, lightly kissing his neck.
“They look so real. What do you make them out of? Their skin, it’s almost like flesh.” Steve bent down, staring intently into the Tom’s frozen eyes.
Tom wanted so desperately to warn the man staring into the glass. Wanted to tell him to run as far and as fast as he could. If he could only blink, squeeze a tear out, move his arm. Anything. But there was nothing he could do. Tom knew that Michael and the others had wanted to warn him, too.
“It’s a secret.” She smiled seductively at her current lover. She traced the form of his face with her right hand, her warmth sending a wave of pleasure coursing through his body. She put her arms around him, stepping close to him. “Come now,” she whispered, her warm moist breath almost taking his away. “We’ve got better things to do right now.” She placed her lips on his, attempting to kiss him deeply.
Steve pushed her away. “Belinda,” he looked into her dark green eyes. “I need to talk to you about something.” His mood was somber as he searched for the right words. He didn’t want to hurt her, she was such a perfect woman, and they had everything in common. She had become so jealous lately, and he felt suffocated. Steve hoped that she wouldn’t take the break-up too hard.
Belinda’s smile vanished. “Talk? You need to talk? Nothing good ever comes after those words.”
“Belinda,” Steve tried to ease the blow as her tears began. “Look, I like you. I really do. But you are just so, well, needy. I just can’t take it anymore.”
Belinda’s demeanor changed before Steve’s eyes. They had all seen it before. Her beautifully rounded green eyes turned crimson as she shrieked “I do not take rejection well! I told you that before! Why would you doubt that?” She put her hand on Steve’s neck, and with her long, perfectly manicured fingers, squeezed his throat just hard enough to stifle his screams. “You will always be mine you small, small man!” She hissed through clenched teeth and fiery eyes.
Steve struggled to free himself from her grip, consumed with horror as he felt himself shrinking. Within a minute, Steve fit into the palm of her hand. Calmly, she lifted the roof off the house and gently put Steve in his place.
“Happy Anniversary, boys, it’s been another year.” She smiled, replacing the cardboard roof.