Flash fiction by Gillian Church
She had convinced herself that they were soulmates, that they shared a deep connection. It was another night when she had invited herself over and then refused to leave.
“Do you know what vinca symbolizes?”
The breeze carried her soft voice in through the open window. Shiny green leaves and tiny violet flowers crawled in after it.
“Adrienne?” Tim jolted upright. His heartbeat pounded in his ears as he looked all around the dark bedroom. He would know her voice anywhere, but it just wasn’t possible. She was buried six feet beneath the bed of periwinkle behind the house.
“It’s a symbol of eternal love.”
Tim scrambled backward as the plants continued to spread across the room. They surrounded his bed and crept up to wrap around his feet, legs, arms, and neck.
“Adrienne, are you there?” It was such a stupid question, he couldn’t believe he had asked it out loud. Her neck had been so broken that her head faced the wrong way when she landed at the bottom of the stairs. She couldn’t be there.
“You could have just let me love you in life.”
He hadn’t meant for her to get hurt, but she had been relentless. She had convinced herself that they were soulmates, that they shared a deep connection. It was another night when she had invited herself over and then refused to leave. He had stopped bothering to call the police weeks earlier—they seemed to think it was hilarious that an objectively beautiful young woman was threatening a man who had half a foot in height and fifty pounds on her.
The stems and shoots that ensnared him pulled him toward the window. He saw, then, that this was the vinca from the far side of his garden, where Adrienne was supposed to be resting. It had smothered everything between the flower bed and the house. An ocean of deep green leaves and tiny periwinkle flowers lay before him, and as it crawled and writhed it seemed to move like gentle waves at sea.
When Adrienne fell—and she had fallen; he hadn’t pushed her—Tim had been struggling to pry her hands off him. He had only thought about getting her away from him, not about how dangerously close to the stairs they were.
That didn’t mean he didn’t feel a sick sense of relief when he heard the crack of her spine. That didn’t mean that he didn’t feel a strange wave of satisfaction looking at her pale, dead face. That didn’t mean that he would call for help or do what he was morally and legally obligated to do.
“But even a full life is so short.”
He thought about how it might look. How a record existed of disputes and altercations between them. And when it dawned on him how few connections Adrienne really had, and how erratic her behavior always was, he realized he could just hide any sign of what happened and just move on.
The vinca pulled him out the window and carried him across its undulating surface towards Adrienne’s unmarked grave.
“Here, with me under the periwinkle, we will have more than a hundred lifetimes for me to love you.”
The earth had been split open where he had painstakingly packed down the dirt and covered it with the sprawling flowers. There lay Adrienne, her cold, gray face twisted into a grin. There lay an empty space beside her, as well, and Tim knew it was for him.
Just before the vinca twisted his neck to match Adrienne’s, he saw her lips move as she uttered the last words he would ever hear:
“We’ll have eternity.”