The soft click and whirling of the disk let him know it’s working. The screen flashes white then crescendos to a glaring baby blue. When did he become like this? Staring at the screen, hunched forward, hands folded in his lap. Sometimes he forgets to blink, sometimes he forgets to take the suggested breaks. Bathing in blue, he feels and thinks nothing: never aging, never growing. One day he forgets to close the curtains, and the sunshine blots out the screen. He is annoyed, and gets up to shut the curtains on the rainbow hues outside. He returns to the desk and loses himself in the ocean. He feels nothing, and does not grow.
She sat at the piano, worn and scratched with age, playing a simple tune she’d learned many years ago. It was a busy Friday night at the bar, and she would soon return to serving beer to the many rowdy men that liked to frequent, despite its isolated location in the countryside. It was the dead of winter, and the night wind howled furiously just outside the doors, daring anyone to step outside. No one asked her to play the piano, but no one told her not to either, and as she did not have a piano of her own playing while working was the only chance she had to practice. And she did so love to play the piano. Sighing contentedly as her fingers came to a stop and the last notes of the song hung in the air, she stood from the bench, the legs scrapping quietly against the wooden floor. The bar was an old barn the owner had bought and converted several years ago; the interior was gutted, a fire pit built in one corner and a bar counter in the other. A wood floor was laid out, furniture brought in, and just like that a cedar scented, hay ladened watering hole was born. She walked to the bar, smiled at the bar tender (an older, seasoned grandpa she got along with quite well), and collected a fresh round of drinks to deliver to anyone willing and able. She knew just such a crowd: the loudest, rowdiest, most populated cluster of tables in the whole room, all centered around one man. Michelson Connor, son of the Senator and local hell raiser. Dressed in a fine button down shirt and a freshly pressed pair of pants, it was his aura that left an impression. Apathy wafted off him like cologne. Everything one could imagine a young, privileged man doing, he had done with no repercussions. If there was one regular customer that brought a bad taste to her mouth, it was him.
Approaching the table with the drinks, she was welcomed with open arms and cheers. The beers quickly handed out she turned to leave, not failing to notice Michelson Connor’s hand trailing after her skirts. She felt his eyes follow her, but paid little mind. Such behavior was not uncommon coming from him; he had made several suggestions and offers to her in the past, all of which she turned quite away from. She saw the bar tender beckon, and when she walked closer he motioned to the trash basin behind the counter. They traded off who took the garbage outside to the burn pile behind the bar, and tonight it was her turn. Gathering the container, she walked through a doorway and paused by the back door to slip on her heavy winter coat. Reaching into her pockets for her gloves, she felt two strong arms wrap around her waist. Jumping in surprise, she turned to see Michelson Connor looming over her. Pushing her against the wall, he leaned in close, reeking of alcohol. He barred her way as, panicked, she tried to escape around him. His hands roamed over her body as he mumbled about marriage and leaned in to kiss her. Using her full strength, she managed to shove him away only to have him grab her roughly by the wrists. Seeming entirely sober now, he demanded her hand in marriage, promising things she had never wanted or asked for but he seemed certain she desired. Breaking free once more, she gave her final refusal in the form of a slap. Grabbing the trash bag, she hurried out the back door, hoping that would be the end of it.
Stomping through the several inches of crunchy snow already covering the ground, her coat flapped wildly in the wind, she failed to hear the door bang open behind her. She felt the stab of the knife in her back and dropped the trash bag out of shock. The feeling of the knife pulling out of her body made her shudder, as the open wound let the cold seep in and blood pour out. She stumbled forward and fell to her knees. Looking over her shoulder she saw Michelson Connor standing over her, a bloody knife clutched in his hand. She managed a cry and put one hand forward to crawl away before he fell on her, pulling her around to face him. He stabbed her several more times until, panting, he stopped. Leaning forward, he grabbed her chin and pulled her close.
“You are mine to have. Forever.”
Her choking gasps, full of blood, were his only response. Leaving her and the knife in the snow blooming with red, Michelson Connor calmly walked back into the bar and to the bathroom to wash up. By the time he returned to his table, everyone around him was far too drunk to notice the orange tinges on his shirt peeking out from under a jacket he had taken off a hook near the back door and thrown on.
Despite several search efforts, her body was not found until the Spring thaw, as the fierce snow storm from the night of the murder buried her completely. All evidence melted away along with the snow, leaving only little wild flowers sprouting around her body and the knife she was murdered with in a phenomenon no one had ever seen the likes of. While it was clear she was attacked, with no evidence and no leads her body was quietly buried and the incident quickly forgotten. Shortly after Michelson Connor moved from the small country town to a much larger city up North, and was never mentioned again in the bar he loved to frequent with the pretty woman who played the piano.