Almost the last song fiction of the year. That’s crazy. This month it’s Flaws by Bastille. I haven’t heard this one before and wasn’t fond of the regular, radio version. But dear god, the acoustic one—his voice. You really should give it a listen.
Anyway, you can watch the video below and I hope you enjoy the resulting story.
“You don’t have to do this, Izzy. You know that, right?”
Isabel McClaren glanced over at her brother. Ryan’s brows were furrowed, his left eye twitching slightly with ever other breath. He’d tightened his grip on the steering wheel to the point the flesh over his knuckles had bleached white. And there was no mistaking the slash of red on his cheeks.
She took a steadying breath, burying her hands in her lap so he couldn’t see the way they shook. “I know.”
“If you’re having second thoughts, all you have to do is tell me.”
Second thoughts? She was way past second and on her way home.
He turned to face her, unclipping the seatbelt when it caught on his shoulder. “They can’t make you testify against Zack. It’s called Spousal Privilege. I had a buddy at JAG double check.”
“So I’m just supposed to what? Walk away? Pretend I didn’t see him kill that…” Bile caught in her throat, making her gag. She forced herself to swallow—meet Ryan’s gaze. “That woman? That I haven’t spent the last five years married to a monster?”
Ryan’s jaw clenched, jumping the muscle in his temple. “I think the beatings you took from the bastard more than clears your conscience.”
“My conscience? I should have found a way to stop him.”
“You didn’t know.”
“But I should have! I should have seen it. In the way he treated me. Treated any woman he saw. And I should have left him the first time he hit me. Put a restraining order on his ass and had him charged with assault.”
Ryan cupped her hand, holding it gently in his. “Izz. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“Why not? You would have pressed charges. Anyone with half a brain would have. And maybe if I’d had the balls to do that, they would have figured out he was the psychopath roaming the streets, killing those prostitutes. Instead, I believed the lies.” She shook her head, punching her other hand against her thigh. “I wanted so bad for them to be true. Christ, I’m pathetic.”
She bowed her head. Tears threatened, but she knew she wouldn’t cry. Couldn’t. Not another tear for that bastard.
Ryan sighed. “You’re not pathetic. You’re brave as hell.”
She snorted, glancing at him. “I’m not brave. You are. You were always were. The golden child.”
“You know. The perfect kid. Got good grades. Never gave dad a hard time. Joined the army, and served your country for ten years. You have a shit ton of medals to prove just how great you are. And what have I done? Made a lifetime’s worth of poor choices.”
“We all make mistakes.”
Her chin quivered before she glanced at him. “You don’t. You’re flawless. Like a sculpture carved out of ice.”
“You’re wrong. The only difference between us is that you wear them on your sleeve.”
She frowned. This was a side of Ryan she hadn’t seen before. “And where are yours?”
“Buried. Deep. But still there.” He looked away. “And for the record, Zack isn’t on you. He was messed up long before you ever met him. I guess he’s really good at hiding his flaws, too.”
“It’s funny. I used to think that Zack was my redemption. The one thing I hadn’t fucked up since I was born. How it’s all played out? It’s poetic, really.”
“Then stop making bad choices. Starting now.” He grabbed her other hand, again, waiting until she met his gaze. “I have…a friend. Someone I knew overseas. He can make us disappear. For good. And we can start over. Anywhere you want. Another state. Hell, another country. Just say the word, and we’re out of here.”
“You’d leave everything for me?”
“In a heartbeat, sis.”
Izzy stared out at the courthouse, the rain creating tiny rings in the puddles lining the steps. It had rained the day she’d married Zack. Then, again, the night she’d stumbled upon him in the cellar. She’d heard the drops beating against the wooden door as she’d stood in horror, unable to move. Zack’s hands covered in blood. The woman’s lifeless eyes staring out at Izzy. Pale. Pleading. Bruises had bloomed around the dead woman’s neck, the same shades as the ones Zack had left on Izzy’s body.
“I want to disappear…” She grabbed Ryan’s hand before he could turn over the engine. “After the trial. After they lock Zack’s ass up for the rest of his miserable life.”
After I did something good. Something—flawless.
Ryan stared at her, his face unreadable, before he nodded. “After you hand that bastard his ass. Then, we’re gone.”
And that’s it for me. Just the amazing Bronwyn and Siobhan playing along today. So, go check out her masterpiece.