Contributor: Marla Johnson

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Three things made me fall in love with Gabby: her eyes were dark tidal pools, watery and rippling; she tasted like sunshine, a blend of citrus and honey; and her sugar-soaked scent of honeysuckle.

Now, I think of Gabby as a wide-eyed fish flapping and jumping about while trying to escape. After all, I’m the one who sent her away. I’m the one who locked her up. She was supposed to be gone forever, but somehow she found a way out.

The gun, a puny .22, nodded at me. Gabby’s thin finger caressed the trigger. “I told you I’d see you again.”

I looked into the black pit of the gun’s muzzle and then looked at Gabby. Her once fluid eyes were black river stones. Three long stir-crazy years locked up with bipolar, suicidal, and schizophrenic misfits had stripped the sheen from her eyes.

“Gabby, you shouldn’t be here.”

“It’s my home. Well, it was, until you took it from me. You said I was obsessive, jealous, and paranoid. You said I killed that woman, because I thought you were sleeping with her. Why?”

Gabby’s lips were dry, cracked husks. Her tongue no longer sweet; I doubted she tasted like sunshine.

“Tell me the truth.”

“Gabby, you’re not well. Let me call the hospital.” This was not the Gabby I knew; this was a thin whimper of a woman, but she still smelled of honeysuckle. The scent drifted through the air, dripped from the walls, and clung to the carpet.

“You were sleeping with her.”

The scent of honeysuckle strangled my senses; I nodded.

“You killed her and made it look like I did it.”

It would have been better if Gabby had an institutionalized smell, a stringent mix of Clorox and ammonia, but she was sugar-soaked. “Gabby, I didn’t love her.”

“You didn’t love me either.”

Gabby pulled the trigger. Heat poked into my chest. I buckled, knocked my head on the corner of the kitchen table, and then spiraled onto the floor. Blood gushed. I couldn’t keep air in my lungs, but it was that sugar-soaked scent of honeysuckle that killed me.

I used to love that scent. I used to love Gabby. I loved the others too, but never long enough.

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