Cynthia

“Shut up and drive!” Screamed a woman’s voice from the passenger seat. The cars headlights were on their brightest but this only served to illuminate the wall of rain and fog that surrounded the car. The driver let the engine make his reply. It roared angrily as the car’s already breakneck speed increased even further. Rain hammered down on the roof and windows providing an unwelcome disturbance to the already frenetic scene.

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“Oh! Now you’re quite!” Accused the female’s voice. Benito the driver turned to glare at his fiancée Cynthia. His eyes weren’t even on the road. Benito knew that Cynthia hated it when he did this, so he was going to do it as often as possible. “Say something!” came Cynthia’s incongruous plea. “What?!” sounded Benito’s voice. His usually deep, calm tones were almost soprano and breaking with pent up emotion.”Like you’ve never done it!”

Cynthia turned to look out her window. A lightning bolt chose that moment to rip the black sky apart. The blast of thunder that followed moments later sent a little toy on the dashboard’s bobbly head shaking. It bobbed away as it grinned at the world from its place on the dashboard.  “I have done it! Of course I’ve done it… but you promised me.” Cynthia’s tone had quietened a little. “I don’t know if I can be with you if I can’t even trust you now.” This last part was partially drowned out as the sky chose that inconvenient moment to voice its displeasure.Cynthia_002

The car was careening down a narrow road on the way down the hill to Hout bay. Lights from vehicles in the other lane came rushing out from the fog and disappeared just as suddenly. Benito turned up the radio. “..Love you till I diiiee” sang out of the old speakers. Benito had an old Mazda sting 323 hatchback. He had had it for years. Cynthia had called it ‘The Tank’ he remembered and compared to her little plastic car it was! The memory came to him unexpectedly and his guards were down for a moment. Cynthia not sharing the same moment chose that instant to vent her anxiety. “I mean: how could we, possibly think we could be together! You don’t even like cats! And look at your mom, she hates me!!”

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Benito took his eyes off the road to glare at his fiancée. These questions made him angry. Hadn’t he more than proved himself? They had been together for three years by now. 1 of these years he had been in England and remained faithful! Did she really think these things she said mattered? Was she just trying to get rid of him?!

He looked back at the road. The air was thick with mist and rain. The nights weather had come as a complete surprise, as had the argument. A good night had been shared with a friendly couple living in Claremont. As they were leaving, a slight drizzle was just beginning to fall. Benito hated to drive at night. His vision was not that good at the best of times and darkness just made his weakness more apparent. It was because he spent too much time on his computer Cynthia liked to tell him. His anxiety was making him edgy and this edginess contributed to his testy reply.

“Just shut up. I have enough to worry about without having to fight with you.” Benito said out of the corner of his mouth. “Did you just say shut up!” The windows seemed to freeze over at the chill in Cynthia’s reply. Actually ice had slowly been forming on the windows for a while now. Half listening to his fiancée’s rejoinder he reached down to turn on the demister. “Sometimes I hate her” Benito thought in the back of his mind. “I’ve made a mistake, but it’s too late now. We’ve told our families and friends, there’s no way out.”

Benito’s questing hand found the knob for the demister and switched it on. As he looked up again he saw a figure emerge from the fog right in front of their car. He slammed his foot down on the break and spun the steering wheel. The tank’s wheel screeched but couldn’t gain purchase on the wet tar. Veering sideways the car slid along the road surface like a crab that had lost control. Cynthia was screaming, as with a loud thud, Benito knew they had hit the person. The car came to a stop a distance down the road.

Without even looking across at Cynthia, Benito jumped out of the car. Stumbling in his haste he sprinted back to the figure now lying on the road’s surface. As he got nearer he slowed to a walk. It was definitely a person, a woman to judge by her silhouette -“Crap” thought Benito.

Cynthia_004A few steps closer and he saw that she was wearing a frilly white dress and a veil. He couldn’t make out her face, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. “What was she doing just standing there in the middle of the road on a night like this?” “Why was she wearing a wedding dress?” “Do I now have to tell a newlywed husband that I just killed his wife?” These questions flashed across his mind unbidden. Hastily he pushed them aside and turned his attention back to the woman.

He felt her move slightly as he knelled down beside her. This encouraged him. “I’m so so sorry.” were the first words out of his mouths. “Are you okay?” Not waiting for her response he felt for an arm. It took him a moment to find this, twisted as it was beneath her back. Gently he felt her wrist. This was surprisingly warm considering the chill of the night around them.

He felt for a pulse. Very faintly he could just make out a tiny irregular throb that was dwindling in its magnitude moment by moment.

Benito jumped up, about to go to his car to phone the paramedics. A sudden urge took hold of him. Without knowing why, he felt that he had to see her face. He knew that time was of the essence but he couldn’t quash the desire. Quickly and almost abrasively Benito pulled back the veil. Long, brown hair rolled over his hands as he unleashed it from its moorings.

Benito stopped, his face so still that the beads of sweat were crystallizing around his temples. With each moment that ticked by, the life in the woman receded further and further away. Benito looked down into deep brown, almost black eyes that were crying. He was staring down into the face that he loved and knew so well. He had killed her, he stood and looked down at the form of Cynthia curled up on the road surface. Turning he took in his empty car.

“How did I let it come to this?…What have I done?” thought Benito as a last thought.

Slugs

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