Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Termination

The rope glided along next to her. She knew it was there. She was the one keeping it there. Walking at a steady pace, she felt her blood pressure rise. A rush pulsed through her. He would be there. And she would be sure to take extra care. She crossed the street without looking. The rope followed. People ran around her. She heard people yelling. People were everywhere, but no one noticed her or her rope.

She saw him, towering over the crowd at the park. She smiled. Raising her hands, she sent the rope forward, weaving through people. She sped up. Running, she faced him.

It starts now. He sees her and cowers. He tries to look away but she reaches out. His head stops. He squirms but it’s useless. The rope slides in from behind him. It caresses his cheek and curls around his throat. She walks to him, hand still out.

“You know you want it,” she whispers. She holds out her other hand, palm up. Looking from it to him, she snaps her hand into a fist. The rope cinches around his neck and raises, pulling him up. She releases him, lowering her other hand. She raises the other fist in the air, the rope raising him above the crowd. He flails his legs and grips at the rope around his neck. His fingers dig into his flesh, leaving bloody claw marks. The rope tightens, the ends slowly rubbing his cheeks. She watches, the smile on her face stretching from ear to ear. He gasps, turning red.

The crowd does not notice. Kids play. People laugh. Someone starts to play music. He looks to her, his piercing eyes pleading. Twisting her fist, the rope takes him higher. It whips him up and throws him down, sending him head first into the asphalt. He lay, twitching and gasping for air. She bends to his side and cradles his head. He looks to her, immobile. She pets his hair.

“I’m sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you were playing hard to get.” The rope lowers from the sky. Using her index and middle finger, she opens his mouth. The rope glides in, taking up space in his esophagus. He twitches for a few seconds before laying still. She smiles, stands, and melts into the crowd.

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