He would come.
She waited, watching out of the window at the empty street below. Streetlights winked at her pleasantly. It was raining. A car engine began its wailing, reaching to a crescendo. her heart lifted slighty and she looked down at the black glistening road with hope. Without even slowing, the car blazed past. Her heart sank in her chest, like the sound of the engine fading away. He would come.
A candle on her desk burnt slowly, banishing the darkness with a warm orange glow. It felt cold to her. It could not banish the daemon inside her. It tore at her, lurking in the pit of her stomach. It reached out with black talons of fear and scraped them down the sides of her heart. It twisted around her, inside her. It filled her with freezing fear. It knew. She was wearing her evening best. She had made herself up, skin glowing like a lantern, lips brushed red as her glittering dress. She knew he would come.
He had to come.
Every day for the past twelve years she had done this, sat at the window. Still, he never came. She would forgive him for making her wait so long if only he knocked on her door. Next to the candle, an unopened letter lay on her desk. Yellow with age, it was dated ‘10th March, 1942’ and addressed from the Department of Defence, Australia.
If she didn’t open it, he would come home.
A tear fell down her cheek like the rain rolling down the window. She wished it was wash the terror daemon away.
The daemon whispered to her. It was always whispering. It knew her. It was never welcome, but it was always there. It knew all about her her and she knew nothing about it. It didn’t give up any secrets.
She reached for the liquor bottle on the windowsill.
She could not will it away, so she would drown it in bitter oblivion.
Night turned to day, and day to afternoon when she woke again. Her head was thumping. The daemon was cackling. Every terrible laugh shot dull pain through her head. She shook her head in the vain hope it would silence the demon. It retaliated, stabbing cruel barbs of ice into the inside of her skull.
She swore, and found her throat was dry as dust. She looked around for the half finished bottle of liquor. It lay cracked in two and bleeding on the ground beneath the window.
Inwardly, she cursed the daemon.
It heard her and whispered to her the same phrase it had told her every single day since she became a widow.
You’re terrified and he’s not coming back.
She screamed out loud, damning her throat and damning the daemon for being there. She hated the demon, she hated the way it filled so perfectly the hole he had left when he died. She hated the way that things would never be the way they once were and she hated herself for allowing him to go in the first place.
He’s dead. He’s never coming back.
’He’s not dead. He’s not.’
He’s dead. The daemon repeated.
The daemon began laughing again.
In her mind’s eye, sometimes she could almost see it, see the daemon. The smoky, glistening darkness of its body, the cruel black talons, the burning eyes. The eyes burnt with a cold blue flame, chilling the heart and soul with its icy tongues. The daemon had to be banished, she realised. The daemon had to stop lying. The daemon had to feel the pain it had inflicted on her for the last twelve years.
She could feel the daemon. She strode over to the window, a conviction afire in her soul and took a hopeful look outside. Nothing was there.
The sun was setting in the horizon, pouring an amber light though the window and filling the room with its warm, easy glow. She bent down and picked it up. The daemon was traversing her body, scraping its icy claws through her body. She didn’t feel the pain any more. She gazed out the window and waited for it to settle.
There. It was in her heart, right in the centre. The street, she saw, was empty as ever. She thrust the broken bottle deep into her chest, impaling the daemon right between the eyes.
For those that can’t let go.