'So, why'd you put her up there?' Mark nodded his head towards the girl. She was sitting cross-legged and hunched over. Her messy hair blocked her face from view, except for those wild eyes that flickered back and forth across the room, seeking an escape route.
Steve raised one eyebrow quizzically. 'But... it's made for her. She belongs up there. My queen, upon her throne.'
'I don't think she likes it. In fact, I think she's fucking terrified.'
Steve shook his head. 'You don't know what you're talking about, mate.'
'I think I do.' Mark was worried. He could understand why Steve had put her up there--Abigail was certainly beautiful and he'd heard that she was quite the poet as well. But it was clearly not working out for them. For a start, she'd let herself go. Messy hair may have been in fashion, but Mark didn't like it. There was also a foul smell in the air, which he suspected was the result of her shitting her pants.
And then there was the whole out-of-reach problem. Steve had placed her so high up on that fucking pedestal that there was no way she could get down--and no way he could touch her.
'Steve, how's it working out for you?'
'It's good. I'm good. We're happy.'
Mark nodded at the girl again. 'She doesn't seem so happy. Do you let her down often?'
That eyebrow, again. 'Why would I do that? She belongs up there, man. Aren't you listening?'
'I'm listening. I'm hearing you. I'm just not getting it. Why does she belong up there?'
'Because she's my queen. She's perfect. Her skin, her eyes, her voice... her words...' Steve trailed off into a memory or a daydream or perhaps insanity.
'Okay. But she's not looking her best now, is she? And... when did she last speak?'
'She is always speaking in my heart.'
'You've fucking lost it. I'm calling the cops.' Mark took his phone from his pocket and unlocked it.
'Don't!' Steve lunged to knock the phone away, but Mark sidestepped. Off-balance, Steve crashed to the floor, cracking his shoulder on the pedestal as he fell. The pedestal shook, and Abigail stood up in wide-eyed shock.
Mark leaned closer and investigated the damage. He had thought it was made of cement, but he saw now that it was papier-mâché over a skeleton of coat hanger wire--hardly fit for a queen, which, he reminded himself, she was not. She was just a sweet, innocent girl that this poor fool had placed on a pedestal.
Steve seemed to be unconscious.
Mark's eyes were drawn upward by some invisible but nevertheless tangible force, which turned out to be Abigail's gaze. She had knelt down near the edge and was now peering down at him. As she gripped the edge of the platform, a barely perceptible smile twisted the corner of her mouth up.
Her voice was like coffee. 'I don't suppose you could help me down.'
'Ummm...' Mark looked around for a ladder, a stool, something, anything to reach the young woman who suddenly seemed so warm, so alive.
'It's okay,' she said. 'You won't' find anything. Just help me knock this thing down so I can touch the floor again.'
Mark was uncertain, but the girl started to tug on the edge of the platform, gently rocking it back and forward. He joined her dance from the bottom of the pedestal, gently swaying away from it and then striking it with the full weight of his brawn. Each strike caused Steve's body to shudder. Mark wondered if he would wake up soon, but wasn't overly concerned.
Mark had a sneaking suspicion this was a dream.
The pillar swayed, tracing a growing arc, closer and closer to its tipping point. With some alarm, Mark realised it wasn't going to fall away from Steve. It was going to fall on him. He stopped pushing.
'Wait!' he called out. 'Why don't you just jump down?'
'Oh no,' she replied, still tugging at the platform. 'That wouldn't work at all.'
And with one more heave, the pedestal fell, crushing Steve. His brains spattered across the space and splattered onto Mark's crisp, white shirt.
After the initial shock, Mark felt relieved--it must be a dream, after all. He wasn't waking up, though, so he figured he might as well play along, and he went to check on Abigail.
She was gone.
Mark heard sirens in the distance, and willed himself to wake up.
Mark heard sirens nearby, and willed himself to wake up.
Mark heard yelling at the door, and willed himself to wake up.
Mark was a little confused and unsure of what to do next, so he approached the door. It was made of beautifully carved mahogany, and Mark realised uneasily that he had no recollection of entering this way. His suede jacket was hanging on one of its two brass coat hooks, though, so he must have. He reached for the shiny door handle, deciding it would be better to open the door than to have it kicked in by a burly police officer.
He decided too late.
The door was kicked in by a burly police officer. The handle slapped Mark's hand away, and his suede jacket swung wildly from the coat hook before coming to rest against the wall. Mark hung limply from the other coat hook, which was neatly inserted into his left temple.