Submitted by: Jay Rohr

It's been said before, but here it'll be said again;  Not every thing in life can be planned for.  One moment, when you think it's all figured out, the bottom drops out.  And instead of having a floor to stand on, you're left standing in a vacant space, wondering how long till you hit bottom while hoping you're flying. 

It was just supposed to be a simple trip.  Six months in Vegas on a temp job offered by a friend.  Six months had turned into four years.  There was an excuse.  After all, there always is. There were, in fact, two.  However, one was only half the truth.  He could tell it all, but Vincent knew Marianne would never believe him.  Even though she knew how to read if he was lying.  He'd told her more than a few, although nothing this grand.  He wanted to believe she would have faith in him, but he knew no one could believe the last few years.  He only knew it was all too real because he had lived them.

His first matter of business was to see Marianne again.  Vincent had hoped she was still working at the same job she'd had when he left.  She was.  Luck, for the time being, seemed to be in his favor.  Although it was agony to be in the city - the mix of too smells flooding his nostrils, and a thousand sounds he could hear without wanting to - he entered it to see her.  He knew Marianne's  address, but couldn't wait to look at her again.  It had been too long.  And even though he kept to the shadows of an alley, he feared she would see him or even somehow sense him and look over with eyes full of hate.

But she never had any awareness of him.  It hurt while being somewhat relieving.

Even amongst the too many scents mingling in the city's concrete canyons, he managed to catch a hint of her aroma.  Pink cinnamon.  He remembered it from a letter she'd sent him shortly before he was supposed to come back from Vegas.  He watched her climb into her car, a beat up blue Ford Taurus they'd bought together.  Was that back in '96 or '95?  Vincent wanted to but couldn't remember.  Marianne pulled out of her space, and he launched himself up the side of a nearby building.  He followed along the rooftops until she turned onto the highway.

Sunset was too far off for him to follow her along the street.  So he waited, smoking Marlboro reds, until the horizon no longer glowed gold.  As twilight gave the first glimpse of dark, he raced down sidestreets and through alleyways.  He knew where to find her.

He ran as fast as his legs could pump.  Even when fatigue began to make his limbs ache, he pushed himself further.  By the time he reached her home, she was already resting on the couch, watching television.  It took him a moment to make out the sounds.  She was watching The Simpsons.  Then a voice spoke that made him freeze.  He had heard it too few times, but still knew the first words it had spoken.

Evan's voice had begun to gain it's own distinction.  However, it still retained a reverberance with the child he had left.

'Just a short stay in Vegas,' Vincent thought of the words, his explanation for leaving.  He'd promised Marianne and Evan he'd be home before they even felt he'd gone.  Then four years were gone.  He tilted his nose to the air and tried to catch the scent of his son.  If the wind hadn't changed directions then, he might have.

Vincent moved slowly, unsure how close he should come.  This was closer than he had been in too long and closer than he had ever planned to be again.  Seeing Marianne had triggered a desire inside that burned his resolve to stay separate to ash.  In his mind, he still contemplated just sneaking inside to get what he wanted, but now, with her scent still a fresh memory, and the sound of his son, he needed contact.

His feet moved on, urged by desire instead of logic.  Another few feet steps and he might have bounded from the shadows into plain view.  Another few steps and he would have rushed through the window to see his family.  Four years is a long time to be alone.  The weight of which feels worst when company, the company one desires most, is within reach.

Marianne's head tilted to the side, idly gazing out the bay window.  Her eyes froze him in place.  Her face reminded him of his as it was now.  Vincent reached up a hand, if it could still be called that, to touch the thickness of hair that hung from it.  She seemed to look straight at him.  For an instant he wondered if she could see the thing that had been her man.  He doubted, though hoped, she could see past the face he wore now.  He slunk back, further into the shadows.  But she rose from the couch.

Vincent sucked in his breath.  He was sure she hadn't seen him, but she still seemed to stare where he was.  His own gaze stayed with hers.  He heard her call for Evan, and in listening to their conversation knew how she knew where to look.  His eyes shone.  It was the one thing he always forgot to put out of his mind.

Marianne talked for another few moments before sending Evan to bed.  As soon as her back was to the window, Vincent rushed toward the house.  He crept low beneath the sill as soon as he was close.  He smelt her stronger, and the sense of Evan combined to almost overwhelm his judgement.  A moment of slack would have had him smashing through the wall just to see them. He kept himself in check knowing how he appeared.  They would never recognize him as much as he might wish them to.

Stealth was the best.  It was better to go inside, get what he wanted, then leave.  He could smell her closer.  Marianne was at the window, perhaps looking for his eyes.  Vincent hoped.  Maybe she could recognize something in his eyes he no longer saw in the mirror.  With ears pricked, he listened to each creak as she ascended the stairs.

Vincent waited ten minutes before slipping in through the back door. Picking the lock was no problem.  An interesting set of teen years had given him that talent.  Even in this state he could move as delicately as a surgeon.

Before stepping through the door, he made sure to brace against the fragrance of his family.  All his efforts were in vain.  No matter how much control he might gain, impulse dictated his actions more than reason.  The rational side could still be heard, suggesting more logical courses, but it always fell from a voice to a buzz.  He'd felt this whole endeavor was a mistake from the beginning, and now it was absolute.

With padded feet, he crept up the stairs, first to Evan's room then Marianne's.  The boy slept quietly.  Evan barely moved or made a sound as he lay in bed.  It reminded Vincent of the boy as a baby.  He had always been quiet and only made sounds when necessary.  Closing his eyes, Vincent took in the aroma.  There were hints of the child he had last seen but a new flavor had begun to instill itself as well.  As softly as possible, Vincent shut Evan's bedroom door.  Then, cautiously, crawled towards Marianne's room.


Normally a heavy sleeper, Marianne found herself unable to fully drift away from the waking world.  For a time she was completely shut off from it.  However, some sense of unease smuggled itself into her dreams, drawing her back to awake.

Those eyes she had seen were strange.  Totally alien, yet arousing some hint of familiarity she could not shake.  And as she tried to sleep, there was a call in the back of her mind that something wrong had entered her world.

She sat up with a sudden jolt.  It felt as though someone had touched her cheek. Marianne looked around her room.  The street lamp at the end of the driveway still illuminated the whole room.  She felt her limbs start to shake.  Fear mixed with adrenaline to freeze her in place, waiting to react to whatever was needed next.  Becoming aware she was holding her breath, Marianne let out a slow exhale.

It was then she heard a low draw of air. 


Vincent kept himself pressed low to the floor.  He had kissed her.  It was stupid, and he knew it.  He could care less.  For as long as he had known her, Marianne had never looked more beautiful.  Almost as soon as his lips had touched her cheek, she'd woken up.  Fortunately for himself, Vincent had managed to duck beside the bed before her eyes fully opened.

Her weight shifted, and he thought she was laying back down.  Letting out a low sigh of relief, Vincent heard her sit upright again.  She'd heard him breathe.


The sound had come from the side of the bed nearest her.  If it was Evan, he'd have started giggling by now.  He'd tried sneaking in her room to frighten her before and had often succeeded.  Although, when trying to hide, his laughter always gave him away.  There was no laughter this time.  Marianne started to shift over to the other side of the bed.

Over by the night stand was an aluminum bat she had bought for Evan, during his brief desire to play baseball.  Rolling off the bed, Marianne grabbed the bat as her feet touched carpet.  She spun around just in time to see a form rush out through the bedroom door.

All of her muscles froze.  The figure was too large to be Evan.  It was too large to be human.  Or was that just the result of unfocused eyes?  She couldn't tell.  But someone was in her house.  Marianne reached for the phone on the night stand.  Her eyes never left the bedroom door.  If her eyes had drifted from it for a second the thought never would have entered her head, 'What if I'm on the phone and whoever hears me.  Then decides to come back?'

Clutching the bat, Marianne made her way over to the door.  She tried to breathe as quietly as possible, but ever breath sounded like a wind tunnel in her ears.  Her feet seemed to scratch like velcro separating as she moved across the carpeting.  Her heart beat seemed to increase to an alarmingly audible level.  Marianne had just put her hand on the door when she saw the silhouette in the hallway.

Seeing the figure caused her to hesitate.  Afraid the person might rush her, she wasn't sure if she should get ready to swing the bat or slam the door.  But if she locked her own door, what was Evan to do?  Thinking of her son, Marianne took a firm grip on the bat.

"Hello, Marianne," the silhouette said.  At the sound of the voice, the bat fell out of her hands, clattering to the floor.


Coming Soon
Part III
Explanations in Half Truth