“There is no statute of limitations for treachery.”
April Hyatt both said those words out loud and typed them into the comments box under a photo on Facebook. Pleased with her cleverness, she looked over her shoulder and beamed a smile at the muscular man sprawled on the bed.
“Isn’t that a great line, Steve? If I ever write a romance novel, that’s going to be the theme.”
Steve Paquin just stared, wordless, eyes glistening in the low lights of the cheap motel room.
April sighed and turned her body toward him, but remained in her chair.
“Look, Steve, I know you don’t understand why I’m so upset, and that’s my fault. I should have told you the truth from the beginning, but I was too embarrassed. Too sad.”
Steve didn’t speak.
“But I don’t want to keep secrets from you anymore. I don’t want to hurt you. So here is the truth.”
She stood and walked to the bed, sliding into the nook between Steve’s outstretched arm and his torso. She lay her head on his chest and whimpered, letting her past possess her.
“You know that I haven’t seen my father for years, right?” she asked, lifting her head to study Steve’s face. His chest rose, and she thought he might speak, but he remained silent. The pain in his eyes said it all, as if he were suffering with her. Such a sweet man.
“Well,” April continued. “What I didn’t tell you was that he abandoned my mother and me during my junior year in high school”
The memory closed off her throat, and the last part of her sentence was drenched in a sob. She dropped her head back to Steve’s chest, and he sighed with a groan.
“I know, I know, Steve. You would never treat a woman like that and you for SURE would never treat your daughter like that.”
April wiped a tear from her cheek and brushed the hair from her forehead, focusing on the computer on the worn desk at the end of the bed.
“Anyway, it was Spring Break, and we had planned to drive up to Mackinac Island, just the three of us. But when my mother and I woke up on Saturday morning, Dad and his car were both gone. We waited for hours for him to come home, but he never did. There was no note, and we couldn’t call him — this was before any of us had cell phones. And he didn’t call us, either.
“Mom did call the police, but they said there was nothing they could do for 24 hours. On Sunday, they finally helped her file a missing persons report. When Dad hadn’t shown up or made contact by Tuesday, they put out an APB. It didn’t do any good, though, and we spent the whole week driving up and down Indiana highways and backroads looking for any trace of him.
“Finally, when we came home late Friday night, Mom stopped at the mailbox, and there was a plain white envelope with an Indianapolis postmark. Inside was a note from Dad saying that he had met someone and wouldn’t be coming home. Ever.”
April’s voice quivered, and her chest heaved as she struggled to catch her breath and stave off a full-blown breakdown.
“That was the last we heard from him.” Her voice grew hard and she sat up with a start, pushing off Steve’s chest. He grunted.
“Mom couldn’t cope with Dad’s rejection — they had been together since high school. She started using drugs, and by the time I graduated, she had overdosed twice. The third time, during my freshman year at Kentucky State, killed her.”
April stood and stared down at Steve, whose wide-eyed expression had grown fearful.
“Men are pigs!” April spat the words. She regretted her harshness instantly and placed a gentle hand on Steve’s arm.
“I’m sorry, Steve,” she said. “I know you’re not my father. It’s just that I thought I had put all this behind me.”
His eyes pleaded, begging her to continue.
“Oh, sure, for years I hoped he would call or send another note. Something! I wondered where he was and if he was happy. I wondered who he was with, and if she was worth it.
“But he never called or wrote or came around. Maybe he’s dead, for all I know. I’m not sure I would even care anymore. I mean, he’s a man, and men are pigs. There’s only so much you can expect from pigs.”
She squeezed Steve’s hand, as much for courage as to show her affection. She stood straight and tried to center her emotions.
“But that,” she said, pointing to the computer screen. “THAT was supposed to be my best friend.”
April took two strides to the desk and snatched up the laptop. She carried it to Steve’s side and turned the display toward him.
“See there?” she tapped the screen with her index finger.
On the monitor was a dingy, scanned picture of a petite blond teen next to a pretty brunette of about the same age. The photo had been cropped, red curls from an unseen girl interlocking with the straight dark hair of the girl on the left of the frame. A meaty male right hand grasped the waist of the blond just above her bikini bottoms. In the webbing between the man’s thumb and forefinger was a tattoo of an anchor with the initials “A. H.” on either side of the shank.
Above the image was a caption: “#TBT spring break in Miami, junior year of high school, 2000. We had a blast @Jamie Stively!”.
“That’s Jen, Steve.”
He looked surprised.
“Never knew that your fiance was that kind of girl, did you? You’ve got a lot of room to talk, though. Coming here —,” she waved her hands at their surroundings as if revealing them to Steve “— with her best friend. Did you know that my dad was a sailor, Steve, and that he had my initials tattooed on his hand?”
There was a knock at the door, and April lowered her voice.
“OK, now, you be quiet, OK, Steve? It took some convincing to get Jen out here tonight, and I don’t want to scare her away. She thinks I’m here alone, maybe overdosing again.”
“April? Are you in there, sweetie?” Jen’s voice was muffled through the door. “April? I saw your comment on my picture on the way over here. What’s going on, sweetie? Are you OK? You sounded really worked up on the phone.”
April fumed. “Sweetie.” The audacity!
She struggled to keep her voice calm.
“Yes, I’m, uh, fine, Jen. Just give me a second.”
April returned the laptop to the desk and dropped her robe. She stepped back to the bed and looked at Steve. His eyes were wide with excitement.
“Are you ready, big boy?” April growled at him in a low, seductive voice.
She dropped onto the bed and straddled him, stroking him as she began to rock back and forth. She reached forward and pulled the knife from his chest. The weight of her undulating body caused fresh blood to spurt from the hole in his sternum, and she smeared a handful of the warm liquid on her face, then down her breasts and thighs.
She pulled the knife in close to her, where Jen wouldn’t see it.
“Come on in, love,” April called sweetly. “The door is unlocked.”
(This story originally published in response to Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge.)