Muses Ch. 13

bySean Renaud©

“Ladies I’d like to call you all together because honestly I don’t get a lot of chances like this where I have to talk to all of you.” I said as I sat down behind my computer. One thing I had noticed over the last few days was that I was starting to hear and see them even when I was away from my computer but it was still easiest to call them here at the monitor than any place else.

“I was wondering when you were going to spread the good news.” Nikki purred. She was wearing her orange overalls but the top was undone and tied around her waist as she lounged on the steel bunk of her prison wall. “Well kinda good news.”

“Hush.” I chided her. It was kinda weird, normally I envision entire rooms, disjointed many times but entire rooms still. This was just a wall and next to it was another wall this one dirty plaster with a queen bed pushed up against it. Karen was sprawled out on the bed wearing a pair of blue pajamas with cloud patterns on them. “Hey Karen glad to see you could show up.”

“Of course I’m here.” She smiled and sat up against the wall looking over at Nikki for a moment. “So are you finally going to spill?”

“Yes because honestly it’s kind a good day.” It was a good day something that I’d been sorely missing for the last few months. Granted it had been nothing even remotely comparable to the horror that had been two thousand and eight but it was about time that I had something really to smile about. “Where do you want me to start?”

The two girls looked at each other for a moment before Nikki spoke. “I think we can all agree that my news is only good because its progress and start with me.” She said.

“In about two weeks Nikki gets to know what her sentence is. I know it sounds bad but she’s already been in jail for a year. A year exactly actually and since she chose to take the plea we knew she was going to serve some time it was just a matter of how much time she was going to serve. It’ll be nice to know how long, exactly she’s going to be there.” I said. It felt kind of weird to be smiling about a friend going to prison but there it was. It might not have been the light at the end of the tunnel but at least we were almost out of the cave, at least we knew for sure that there was a tunnel and that counted for something.

“It’s more than just that Sean.” Nikki said standing up from her bunk and pulling her jump suit off to reveal a pair of jeans beneath. “I get to wear clothes again, and shoes. I can have a television, a radio, a typewriter. I can receive care packages. I can take college courses and get time off for good behavior. At the end of the month they are going to let me out of Purgatory.” She smiled. “I’ll know how long it is that we have to go on like this.”

“You’ve always been like this you know. In the soon to be thirteen years that I’ve known you this is all you’ve ever been.” I replied maybe a bit too soberly. It was true though, we’d met on the internet and we’d only met in the flesh on one occasion. It was the weekend before she committed her crime. That weekend had been more awkward than anything else, I mostly remember that I got head butted for grabbing her ass. “It’s probable that this is all we’ll ever be.”

“Don’t say that. It may have taken the end of the world for me to realize it but you’re what I want.” She smiled warmly. “You’re the reason none of my other relationships worked out you know? You’re the reason why my fiancée left me and why I didn’t cry when he did. I didn’t love him. I love you and only you and I’ve only ever loved you.” She looked over at Karen and smiled. “I know you love her and I’m ready to accept that. It took a long time.”

“It took you going to prison and being afraid that nobody would ever love you again. I love you Nikki. I love you all day and all night. I love you when you’re a bitch and when you’re scared. I’ll always love you but it’s hard to really trust you right now.” I closed by eyes for a moment. Sadly that only works with real people, when you’re dealing with an overactive hallucination it just makes them that much more vivid. “It feels like the only reason you’re so in love with me is because everybody else has abandoned you.”

Nikki paused looking over at Karen, then at the floor unable to form words or coherent thoughts for a few moments. “If you don’t trust me. . .”

“It’s not that.”

“It is. I’m telling you how I feel day after day, week after week, month after month and very soon it will be year after year and still you don’t believe me!” Suddenly Karen vanished and the prison walls grew around Nikki caging her in completely. “Because of this?” She made a sweeping motion to seemingly mile high concrete enclosure. “You think I’m a liar because I’m in here?”

“It makes it a lot easier. I mean ever other letter you’re telling me that you wouldn’t have any hard feelings if I decided to bolt on you. You don’t believe me when I tell you that I’ll still be here as your friend, your love or your master whatever you want when you get out. These things, these fucking walls they make lying real easy!” Without even being fully aware of it I had stepped into the prison and yanked Nikki to her feet. “It’s not just lying to me that I’m worried about. You could just as easily be lying to yourself.”

“Why would I lie to myself?” She hissed pushing me away.

“People do it all the time Nikki. It makes life easier.” I pushed her up against the wall and pinned her there with one arm. “See it makes it easier. Maybe you’re telling me you love me because you think it’ll keep me around. I am the only person writing you. Maybe you think you love me because you’re all alone and scared.” I reached up and grabbed her shirt and tore it open.

“Maybe I love you just like I say I do! Maybe the reason why I worked so hard to find you when you were in the military is because I love you. Maybe the reason why I’m twenty five and unmarried is because I was yours and no other man was worthy of marrying me!” She shouted. She was trying to wriggle away from me but she wasn’t close to as strong as me. It was easy to hold her in place and tear her clothing off her bit by bit. Nikki didn’t say anything about the fact that I was stripping her down to nothing. “Did it ever cross your mind that I love you?”

“Yes it did.” I stepped back from her for a moment. “Truth is I believe you love me and I’m scared of what that means. What best case scenario you’ll be out in under ten years? That’s a long time to be in a long distance relationship.” I walked over to the nearest wall and put my fist into it up to the shoulder and then tore a chunk the size of a Buick out. “These walls make a difference. No matter how much I love you there after we get past a few hundred miles between us there is six feet of steel reinforced concrete put there with just one purpose as far as I’m concerned. To keep you away from me.”

“If you love me.”

“I love you. I’m also a man and I’m not apologizing for that fact I’m just making it known. If tomorrow I stumble on a girl who happens to have an addiction to cock I’m not going to turn her away. You keep telling me that you understand, that you don’t care but you do.”

“How do you know? I’ve shared you since we met. It’s always been you me and here that’s always been good enough!” Nikki walked over and knelt at my feet. “I told you I was finally ready to be your slave. If you show me the way I will follow you to the end of the Earth. You are my reason for going on. I love my children and I want nothing but the best for them but they aren’t my reason. You are. You!” She wrapped her arms around my calf holding tightly to me. “When I get up in the morning you’re the first thought in my head and the last one before I sleep and you want to know what else?”

I paused for a moment looking down at her. “What?”

It was her turn to pause and her eyes filled with tears. “I’m alive because of you. Remember when I first got in here and they kept putting me on suicide watch?” I nodded. I remembered that fear a lot better than I liked. For two weeks I’d wake up with a cold rock in my stomach and I wouldn’t be able to sleep because I just knew she was gone. Then I’d get a letter and it would be okay for a while but then it would be back just as quickly because Nikki would be talking about hurting herself again. They had to keep her disarmed basically. No belts, or strings of any kind, and her clothing was all made of some flimsy material designed to rip if she tried to make a noose out of it. “They still let me write you and color for you. Every day when I was sitting around I’d take the pen and I’d push it up against my jugular. Everyday I thought about how easy it would be to just end it. Just rip through my own throat and end it right then and there but I didn’t because I knew it would disappoint you.”

I didn’t know what to say to that then and I still don’t now. I don’t know what the proper response is to a person telling you that you are the reason they’re still alive. I know that Nikki’s not real, but she’s usually right about the woman who inspired her. I sank down to my knees wrapped my arms around and kissed her softly on her forehead. “I’m not going anywhere Nikki. Not now not ever. Now come on, it’s time that you went on to find out exactly what your sentence is going to be. It’s time we started looking to the future together.”

“What about Karen?”

“Karen in here I love and she’ll always be around but real girl. She’s married she has to rescue herself before I can do anything for her. It was a mistake for me to even try any other course of action. Maybe she doesn’t need saving, maybe she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be.” I don’t know if I believed that at the time. I knew it but I’m not sure if I believed it but it helped to say it out loud.

That’s all there is to say about this leg of the journey. It ended just like that with me realizing what I needed to do. Karen was fine where she was and thinking about her wasn’t helping. Hopefully she was happy and if she wasn’t then she knew how to find me. Nikki could use my help right now and I was her lifeline and I was not going to abandon her. Hell would freeze over before I let that happen but that’s another chapter for another time.

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