So I had a startling, amazing revelation today while on the way into college. I was listening to the radio and, in a fit of 90’s nostalgia, they played Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” And I had a realisation. That song isn’t just a pop song, no it’s so much darker than that. She’s a woman who has left an abusive relationship and she wants to go back to them. Look at the lyrics! It is pretty messed up.
I’m very tired as I didn’t sleep well, I was considering going through the lyrics line by line but then figured it would be a bit much and maybe it only seems like a good idea to my sleep deprived mind. However! If you listen to the song (or look at the lyrics) with this idea in your mind it becomes really obvious. I don’t know, maybe it was obvious to everyone else and I’m just slow in catching up. (In my defense, I would have been 8 when it came out)
My week has still been pretty boring. No meteor strikes or zombie attacks, not even a measly horror-from-beyond. I’m starting to think the universe doesn’t care about me anymore.
On with the show!
He followed her, though he wasn’t in too much of a rush, he knew where she was going. It was the same place as before. The shopping centre near her house. She strolled there every second day, sometimes she went in for shopping, other times she just wandered around until she left. She was dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, a small handbag hung at her side, the strap crossing her chest. She walked slowly, but with confidence, two ear buds firmly seated in her ears, playing her own soundtrack. He wondered what music she was listening to. That kind of information would come later. She seemed to enjoy her music, maybe he’d play some for her when he was having his fun. She entered the shopping centre, he hung back for a moment, then entered through another door. He didn’t concern himself with following her directly, he knew he’d keep seeing her. That’s how it always was. She wandered into a lingerie shop, he passed it and went into a men’s wear store. He needed to buy jeans. He wandered through the clothing racks, looking at some of them, mostly passing them by, occasionally picking up a pair before putting them back. A sales associate smiled at him, then went back to folding clothes, he smiled back. He didn’t find anything he needed and feeling like he was done, he left the shop. It wasn’t that important, he’d find a pair eventually. He scanned the crowds as he walked, it was surprisingly busy. He didn’t see her in the groups of people walking around, but that was okay too.
He saw her again a few minutes later, she went into a sportswear shop, smiling he followed. He didn’t spend too much time watching her, mostly keeping tabs on her with his peripheral vision. It was safest. She was looking at running shoes. He had noticed the ones she was wearing looked a little old, he was pleased to have been right. He hadn’t seen her go running, at least not yet, though he believed she did. He had followed her to the gym once or twice, perhaps she was doing it there, on a treadmill. She picked up a shoe and examined it for a few seconds, then put it back on the shelf. He continued on, looking at the shelves of water containers. He had no interest in this place, no interest except for her. She seemed intent on buying new runners, so he left her there. He ambled around the shopping centre, people watching. It was fun, watching everyone going about their daily lives. They had no idea that he was amongst them, a monster. Well, a monster in their view. He wasn’t a monster, not really. He was doing good work. He was helping people, cleansing the earth, taking away those who wanted to go. Sure they might seem happy, content, they might be surrounded by family and friends, but they were so alone, so sad. They had nothing to live for, so he granted their wish. He paused to let a group of women with strollers pass by, they chatted amicably to one another, discussing a thousand trivial things. He watched them pass, then continued onwards. He felt thirsty. She past him as he stood in line at the smoothie place. He didn’t watch where she went, he knew he’d see her again. He got his smoothie. He sipped it as he walked around, enjoying it.
He saw her again, she too seemed to be walking with no real destination in mind. He smiled. As she left, he left too, binning his drink on the way. It had been delicious, though it was unlikely he would have another one any time soon. She walked slowly as did he, he followed her carefully, staying a good thirty feet back, he could still see her, the streets were mostly empty. As she walked her pony tail swung back and forth like a pendulum, it was mesmerising. He watched it as he walked. She reached her house and went up the short flight of stairs, bouncing up them, pausing momentarily to unlock the door, as it closed he passed by the front door. He didn’t glance at it and continued onwards. He walked for another ten minutes, following the path he remembered. It seemed like it was no time at all and he was back at his car. He opened the door and slid in. No one would remember him, no one had seen him with her, if anything it just looked like coincidence, there must have been many people that crossed paths in a shopping centre. No one would link him to her. He left around the same time and entered the same time, but they went through different doors. He had bought nothing, she had bought a few things. He had looked in different shops and had only seen her a few times. He turned on the radio, tuning to a talk radio station, then signalled and pulled into traffic.
As he drove he thought about what he would do, what he would like to do to her. It would be fun, it always was. Sometimes he winged it, did what felt right at the time, but this time he felt as though he needed a plan, something to follow. It was getting close now and he didn’t want to lose control. It could be satisfying at the time but he always regretted it when it ended. He could have made it last so much longer, could have prolonged everything, made her last longer. He would draw it out, make it last. That made things easier, it helped prolong the time until the next one. He was pleased he didn’t have too far to travel this time. He had come across the last one while vacationing. She lived three hours away. It had been tiring, but worth it. The last one had lasted a long time, a very long time. He hadn’t thought she would be able to, but she was strong. She wouldn’t accept his gift, she was too burdened by the thoughts and ideas of others. She knew she wanted to go but she believed that it wasn’t right, that it was wrong to give up. She had seen he was right in the end though, they always did. He drove slowly, enjoying it. He had no where to be but he was not eager to get home. He pulled into and got out of the car, he looked around as he locked it. He was near a small park, it was a nice day, a walk outside would be pleasant.
The park was vibrant with flowers, their scent perfuming the air. He enjoyed this place though he didn’t go to it as often as he would like. It seemed to be a place that was not visited often, at least not when he was there. Sometimes there were people with dogs or parents with their children, but it was mostly empty. He sat on a bench, enjoying the day. Everything seemed brighter, cleaner, He had found the right one, he was sure of it. He breathed deeply, clearing his mind. He stood again and continued his walk. It was such a pleasant day.