Cynthia’s fingers clutched the steering wheel tightly as she drove the beach road, her headlights barely cutting through the summer night’s fog. Steve wanted to apologize but did not know how.
“We’re going back tomorrow,” she said.
“I tried,” Steve protested, hating how weak his words sounded.
She sighed. “Damn it Steven, you acted like I wasn’t even there tonight. This vacation was suppose to… you promised me that the accident was… was behind you.”
“It is,” he said. Cynthia had looked beautiful, the night had been calm, just a warm breeze to caress the skin, and the food had tasted great. But Steve had been distracted. Even when they talked, he could not help himself from looking around. Looking for her, the other her. So, Steve had eaten his oysters and even though Cynthia gave a theatrical scowl of revulsion, the kind that used to make him smile and offer her a bite, (always refused) he barely noticed. Like he would have before, like he had when they first dated.
He knew he was a hollow shell of the man Cynthia married, but he did not know what to do about it. As he struggled for an apology the car smashed into the dog. Cynthia slammed the brakes, tires squealing, and Steve clasped his hands around his ears, his entire body shaking. The car rolled to a stop. The dog was yelping in pain.
“Oh God,” Cynthia said. Steve opened his eyes, not remembering having closed them. Cynthia stared at him, her eyes glowing in the moonlight. His heart beat feebly, frantically.
“I’ll look,” he said, finally. He opened the car door and walked down the road, afraid his legs would fail him, afraid he would fail Cynthia again. The moonlight revealed a man hunched over the dog.
“Is your dog okay?” Steve called, his aching legs wobbling from exertion.
Later Steve did not remember which happened first: the colors bleeding away to cast the world under a filter of burnished sepia, or the ground shaking. The man looked up and Steve shrieked, stumbling and covering his eyes. When the shaking stopped, when the color returned to the night, the man was gone, leaving behind the dead dog.
The man’s face… it was the same as the man who had eaten Steve’s daughter.
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