Restraint

The padlock clicks shut. He doesn’t say a word. Stands and stares down at me, eyes marbled with cracks of red. He’s well over six feet, probably two hundred thirty pounds. There’s an unexpected tenderness to him.

The chain around my wrists isn’t tight, but there is no chance for escape. I’m stuck here, unless he changes his mind. He stands over me. Opens his mouth to speak but makes no sound. He squeezes his eyes shut. Stays that way for a minute, then backs through the doorway. The heavy door swings closed behind him.

I’m left alone in this basement. Shelves line the wall–storage for paint cans and miscellaneous tools. I notice the bolt cutters, but I’m pinned in place, too far out of reach.

The concrete floor is cold. The furnace rattles. Water droplets splat somewhere behind me. I count—one drip every three seconds. I could go for a drink of water.

I handle the padlock. Spin the dial, but there’s no point. It would take a million years of guessing to unlock it.

I’m still a bit dizzy. My eyes take a second to focus if I move my head too fast. At least the nausea is gone. I look down at the caked puke and blood on the front of my shirt. Dry and stiff. I realize the gash on my forehead is throbbing. I wish I could touch it to see if it’s still oozing.

The door opens. In walks the man. He puts a photograph on the floor in front of me. A family posed in front of a windmill. A pretty blonde woman holding a baby. A cute elementary-aged boy missing his front teeth. Behind them stands the man, happy and full of love.

His family. Killed in a rollover accident. Dead because I blacked out while behind the wheel.

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