by Ian R. Faulkner
“Did you really think I’d fall for that old chestnut, Mila?” Stewart Crow said, his jaws clenched in disgust as he advanced on Mila Sokolova, herding her deeper into the overgrown garden at the rear of the property with his physicality and contempt. “Did you really think I would be so gullible?”
“Stewart,” Mila pleaded, backing up in fright, stumbling, as the long grass wrapped around her feet and threatened to trip her. “I don’t understand. I thought you would be happy.”
“Happy?” Stewart said, incredulous at Mila’s naivety. “Why would I be happy about you trying to trap me?”
“I… trap you? I would never….”
“Oh, give me a break, you dumb bitch,” Stewart snapped, cutting Mila off. “You must think I’m fucking stupid. What ever possessed you to imagine I’d ever want a baby with you?”
Tears ran down Mila’s face. “I thought you loved me,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “I thought you —”
“Oh, please, as if,” Stewart said. He stopped and shook his head. “Grow up Mila.”
“But you told me —”
“What? And you believed me?” Stewart laughed. “Jesus, I just wanted in your pants, Mila. I thought you knew that?”
“I love you,” Mila said.
“Too bad,” Stewart said, as he moved towards Mila and gripped her arm, his fingers digging into her flesh. “That’s your problem, not mine.”
He squeezed. “Now get out.”
Mila winced. “Why are you saying these things?”
“You really don’t know, do you? Are you really that blind?”
“I love you,” Mila repeated, feeling stupid for saying it again, but it was the truth: the whole truth. There was nothing else. No tricks or traps.
“You make me sick. You women are all the same.”
“It was an accident.”
Stewart Crow thrust Mila away from him. “I want you out of here.”
He had backed Mila towards the unkempt pond at the farthest point of the garden. It was hidden and lost amongst the tall grasses, dense bushes and rampant weeds. Mila staggered and, as the ground disappeared from beneath her feet, fell. The water closed over her, stagnant and cold, and the back of her head struck the rocks at edge with a thud.
Stunned, Mila sank beneath the gelid water. She could see Stewart above: the dark shadow of his silhouetted form distorted by the sediment in the water. He leant towards her. Reached out. Her breath burst free of her locked lungs; bubbles streamed past her face. She began to panic and thrash. The pain in her head was disorientating. It looked and felt like Stewart was holding her down. Mila fought to sit up. Her lungs burned. She needed air, but there was a weight on her chest and her arms and legs were mired in the waterweeds.
The water began to darken around Mila. She was going to drown if Stewart didn’t help her. She could feel his hand. It felt warm on her throat. Why didn’t he lift her head? Why wasn’t he helping her?
With realisation came a rush of hate.