It was hardly very innocent from the start.
She was pretty and cute and fresh. A soft, round face with the clearest crystal blue eyes he’d ever encountered since his mother and she always smelled sweet; sweet as the sweet alyssums that grew outside his apartment, with the faintest, almost imperceptible breath of vanilla and cream. She was young —seventeen, Hoffmann had informed him— and carried an endearing, childlike quality with her that had made him desire to suck in her purity through his teeth and forever savor it on his tongue… a viciously hoarded secret flavor that only he would ever know because he would never tell and he would never swallow.
It was a fantasy he had entertained and tortured himself with during those beginning months before they had become hopelessly and inevitably entangled within each others needs and desires. He’d been forty and hadn’t bothered much with women in the past simply because he hadn’t possessed the time to enjoy their company on a level that would ever amount to anything more than casual friendliness. But then he’d been fifty and she was twenty-three years his junior and seemed to fit him perfectly. She had destroyed the carefully constructed walls of control within him all on her own and had forced up the innate desire to covet and ensure that she stay innocent forever, even when behind closed doors.
Only ever behind his closed doors.
She gave him relaxation and could make him forget. She would cosset and spoil him with her undying, unbridled affection and she was even more loyal and loving than a wife could possibly be because they were not married. But she treated him just as such. She was the companion he required and craved but one he simply couldn’t formally declare a union to. Not yet. But he treated her just as such.
When he could allow himself to, that is.
Because following his delectable fantasies were always the fears of what would become of them, most importantly her, if the wrong people were to discover their relationship. He’d made a lot of enemies in the process of pursuing his goals and dreams; ones that wouldn’t hesitate harming her if they knew of what great value she was to him. He’d constructed a golden paradise for her to spend her days as the war raged on and until the world’s conflicts were brought to a conclusion; and that’s where she would stay, safe and secure from everything else that was taking place around them and he would kill before he would allow that status to change. It was detrimental to his sanity that he know she was protected and happy, amidst jutting mountains covered in emerald grasses and azure lakes and streaming waterfalls and dense forests. Places she could safely live until they had wrapped things up.
It hadn’t taken much time for him to become fond of her in the beginning. Before he’d known it, he had found himself struggling with the intense internal conflicts that raged within him as he struggled and finally helplessly fell in love with her. He really shouldn’t have, he knew. He could sense her attraction towards him and he knew that if he acted upon their mutual desire and affection that he would surely be damning her to a life she’d regret at some point or another.
Most likely after he died and she found herself alone for the next thirty years.
But for whatever reason that wasn’t enough. Keeping away from her wasn’t enough. Trying to block out the thoughts of her wasn’t enough. Cutting off all communication with her wouldn’t be enough. It would never be enough, he realized. Not unless he erased her from his mind; though this he doubted since she was now stuck in his heart, his blood scaring her name into the walls of his veins with each pulse.
Even his corpse would surely bloom with the flowers of love.
So he gave in and she gave in to him more and they began to give to each other everything they possibly could. They shared whispers in the dark garden. They shared their midnight breaths. They shared their tastes and sounds. They shared her bedroom where they shared their love as often as they could.
She had handed over her life to him and he had taken it. He hadn’t wanted to but he had so wanted to. He hadn’t wanted to own her but he had desired and decided to possess and steal her anyway. He really, absolutely, most certainly, completely wanted to make her his. Only his. Forever. He wanted no man to ever have her. He wanted her to run from his ever darkening shadow but the image of her back almost brought him to his knees.
He had become weak for her when he needed to be strong. He had developed a taste for her when he should have abstained. He had run to her when he should have walked away. He had sighed sweet words for her when he should have kept his mouth closed. He had captured her when he should have simply watched… then let her go.
He couldn’t let her go. Not anymore.
He was too lost to the evil that had consumed him. But it wasn’t the evil within that had repopulated and dominated him like an infectious colony of bacteria that kept him from releasing her. It was his fear of that evil. The knowledge that he was being eaten alive by something nefarious and ugly and it was far too late to cut the head off the snake.
She knew him. She knew him. She would know him even after he was gone. She would remember.
She would remember how his hands used to be firm and steady; not shake. She would remember how he used to have a strong and proud walk; not an exhausted shuffle. She would remember how he used to have a deep and powerful voice; not a thin mutter. She would remember how he used to have a profound and passionate love; not a venomous, seething hate.
She would remember his happiness at everyone’s loyalty; not his brokenhearted-ness and hostility at their abandonment and treachery.
She would remember how he had damned her to death.
Beneath all the memories and emotions he can still see himself walking into Hoffmann’s shop that chilly day in October. Each and every time the scene plays before him he desires to reach out and grab his jacket. He needs to stop the man from entering. He needs to keep them from ever meeting.
But he’s already through the door, so fast.
Don’t look at her. Don’t look at her. Don’t look at her.
He looks at her. Up at the girl on the ladder.
God, is she young. Many years his junior. And she is innocently pretty, with a fresh face framed in soft blonde locks and light blue eyes that throw the artificial light back in your face like glitter. Her skirt is hemmed short. He inspects her firm and unblemished calves and the delicate little ankles attached to them. Her small feet wear a simple pair of white flats, the laces tied in perfect bows.
Look away. Look away. Look away!
She catches him staring and he doesn’t look away. He holds her stare—his signature when meeting new people—and the blood beneath her cheeks blossoms like roses. Her lips look savory enough to lick and her wrists delectable enough to bite. He wants her on her back on top of the desk. He imagines tightly grasping her dainty ankles and throwing them apart. He pictures her reaching down and pulling up the fabric of her skirt. He hears her moans and her cries for “more” ringing in his ears as he watches a fantasy inside of a memory.
He sees her body turn pale and cold, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth, the room filled with the aroma of burnt almonds. The walls are massive slabs of thick grey cement. The lights are a cold and unforgiving fluorescent, a tinge of blue. The air is heavy and overstuffed with moisture. There is the scent of gunpowder and the image vanishes with a loud bang.
He is sitting at his desk, fingering two small rings.
He was Der Führer. And he would fail in protecting her, just as he had failed in protecting the country and his beloved German race.
He would finally, officially ask for her hand in marriage, and he knew she would say yes. More than happily say yes. Her eyes would light up and she would gasp and embrace him in an unquestionable and loyal sense of affection; of love. He would permanently ask for her hand, sealing her fate. This was something he would do, there was no question.
He didn’t have to explain to himself why he was so certain on committing such a monstrous act. He glanced up over at the mirror on the wall, hollowly taking in his reflection.
It was only in the monster’s nature, after all.
© 2015 Elizabeth Klarke