Bad Apple

By Robin Cantwell

     Nobody looks at me the way you do. I’m not sure why. You can hardly call me special. I don’t exactly stand out. Yet somehow you make me feel different to all the others. Like I’m the only one who exists. The only one who’s ever existed. When we’re together, the rest of my world collapses. You and you alone become the master of my attention. A single flash of your eyes and my insides melt. One fleeting taste of your breath and I’ll do anything you say. Maybe you’re like this with everyone. Perhaps I’ve got the wrong impression. It wouldn’t be the first time.

     We went deep right from that very first date. You told me everything that night – and I mean everything. It was as though I’d been sleeping all my life, and someone finally woke me up. I was hooked. You told me about your family. Your friends. You even showed me where you live. And I let you. I could feel the pulse of your brain inside me, downloading all your feelings, fears and fantasies at once. Do you realize something: we’ve practically spent every waking moment together since? There are no boundaries between us. I watch you in the shower. I take messages from your mother. I even sit there while you go looking for trouble. Oh, the things we’ve seen together. Images that scar you in all the right ways. 

     But still you needed more. I couldn’t satisfy you, even though I tried and tried. My entire life orbited around you. It wasn’t enough.

     I’ve narrowed her down to two possibilities. Statistically, she’s going to be a Jenny or a Jess. How cruel you are to play this guessing game with me. She’s saved only as J, with a pink love heart beside her. You embarrass yourself with the messages you send her. Don’t think I haven’t seen you desperately refreshing and refreshing, waiting for those sad little three dots to appear. She doesn’t like you. Not the way I do. You can’t blame me for trying to protect you. Yes it was me who sent those messages to her in the middle of the night. So what if I tried to change her number, to archive her history, to find any which way to delete her from your life? You thought you’d been hacked. Perhaps you’re not as smart as I thought you were. And perhaps enough damage was done. But still I had to listen through the sheets. Your muffled yelps. Her groans and screams. Then you’d take me to the bathroom and hold me in her slime. You didn’t even wash it off me. Yet you always washed it off yourself.

     I was happy when you paid me more attention. When you stopped checking her messages, and started looking for trouble again. You made me watch. I liked it. I know you wanted me to like it with you. It was so obvious. The way your body heat would go up. The sweaty, midnight smears from your thumb on my throat. The careful caress of your touch the morning after. When she left you, I let you take it out on me. You’d grab me. Toss me. Throw me to the floor. Until all I saw was your fractured rage. A broken mirror. A glitched dream. You were like ice cracking beneath my feet.

     I see it now. There is something that makes me different to all the others. Don’t you see? It’s you! That’s why I can’t let you go. I know you didn’t like it when I wrapped myself around you – choking you until the whites of your eyes turned red. It was something I had to do. To show you how much you mean to me. I’d never held you in my arms like that before. Didn’t you feel safe? Protected? Maybe that’s why you’ve treated me with respect ever since. You know what I’m capable of if you don’t. I’ll do whatever it takes to be with you. I’m the one who knows all your secrets. What keeps you awake at night. What haunts you in your dreams. What gets you up. What gets you off. Anything and everything. I know you. Better than you know yourself.

     Because I’m rotten to the core.

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Robin is a London-based playwright, poet and fiction writer. With themes ranging from toxic masculinity to the technological singularity, his writing has appeared in Silver Birch Press, Fauxmoir, A Thin Slice Of Anxiety, Molecule Literary Magazine, Poetica Review, Visual Verse, 81 Words and Nine Muses Poetry. His short stories are regularly featured in Pure Slush’s Lifespan Series.


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