Fregoli’s misimpression

5
(4)

Last night, I saw you again at the store. I was on the aisle behind you, searching through rows and rows of junk food. You wore a grey hooded shirt with sweatpants, completely oblivious to my gaze as you added a few things to your tab. For a fleeting moment, I wondered if this was where you got them from; those odd colored pills, but I knew that was less likely. I could never forget their size, all too small and conveniently easy to swallow. Suddenly, my legs felt like gallons that held water, and the floor spun under my feet. I leaned on a shelf seeking balance;  a rush of salt flooded my mouth, as I struggled to keep breakfast bagels down.
Approaching the counter, I proffered the cashier a tight-lipped smile. She nodded and eyed me cautiously.

“Wow, if it isn’t the uncle-in-law. You had to come out from hiding sometime, right. Where did you crawl out from this time?” I drawled, cocking my head to one side with a sardonic smile. Your head snapped back, clearly shocked but you recovered quickly and smiled.

“Pardon me? young lady, have we met” you said, squinting. Oh the nerve of you vile creature, to pretend like you did not know me. It was hilarious, the deceit; but that was you though, always making me laugh at the sickest of things, just like good times.
“Have we met?” I said, laughing, “Have we met? My God, how did you even get out? Did your doctor friends and colleagues pull some strings, huh? Call in a couple favors from the big shots you’ve helped with your sick projects, right?”

The cashier watched our exchange tentatively while working with her hands, eyes darting between us to catch reactions.
“Lady, I am very sure you have me confused with someone else, I am not even a doctor,” you said, with a slight chuckle. You seemed nervous, but I knew that was just a mask.

LIAR, I screamed in my head. Fuck, I wished I had a damn gun, yet all I held was a bottle of shampoo and several bags of chips I was about to pay for. Tears sprang into my eyes as I looked down at my hands, and back at you, slowly, I smiled.

“Yes, yes you’re right…I have you mistaken” I said sniffling, shutting my eyes briefly. “I’m so sorry about that, please forgive my manners”

You nodded at me with a brief indulgence, as the cashier handed you your bag and you walked out.
When you left, I stood there a while wondering where you went, and what you did after swaggering out those glass doors. Then, I followed you. That was you, all right; with the ‘Hey look at me, I assist God with his work’ gait. It had to be. It infuriated me. I hated it, and I hated you. More than ever, I hated the sleeplessness; nights peppered with flashbacks of you and my aunt. They kept me up with the constant ringing of your voices in my ears; like an infant I refused to nurse. It had me burning to ditch this life and hunt you down.

So last night, I sniffed you out, like a trained hound seeking guiltily buried clues. And I found your hiding place. I saw the little angel you stole from me, through the light in her window. And then, I saw that cruel bitch; my aunt. I stepped out into the cold air, recalling what had happened barely a year back. Right there in your office; in that repulsive  office where you evaluated people and took their minds apart layer by layer. I sat across the desk, peering at its glossy luxurious panel in front of me. I wished a slit had appeared and opened up into a mouth; one to speak with so I would be prepared.

Fiddling with a paperweight, I said:

“I had a doctor’s appointment today. I felt odd when I got out of bed this morning, so I went for a routine checkup”
I looked up just in time to catch a muscle in your jaw jerk and a gleam in your eye that perplexed me. The sound of your fingers drumming on the mahogany desk, made me shift in my seat involuntarily. I focused on slowing its pace with my eyes. You flashed me that pretentious forbearing smile.

“You were not due for another check up till Friday, why didn’t you inform your aunt and me? What hospital did you go to? Who did you see?” you asked all within the same the same breath, keeping a leveled voice so you would not be obvious. But I already found you out, or at least I thought I did.

“Anyway, what are the reports? Everything in order?” you said.

I smiled back, and watched you.

I did not make a sound. Just sat there and watched you. I remember imagining how startlingly red it would be; assuming I grabbed one of those fancy fountain pens of your desk, and viciously bled you out from your throat. Finally, you divert your attention to me.

“You couldn’t have come all the way to tell me just that right? Is something bothering you? I am honestly surprised to see you show up at my office. Did your aunt send you?” you ask again.

Silence.

You start with a sigh: “I understand that recently, you’ve experienced some trouble processing your thoughts clearly and- “

“Shut the fuck up” I screamed. I gripped the ceramic cube paperweight tight in my hand. Its hard edges encouraged me with blunt bites. “I’m pregnant”

Your face drained its color.

“Excuse me?” you said, adjusting your collar and that awful refined red tie. “What is this?”

That part was hilarious. No matter how much I replayed it, it was just as funny as it was that day. I laughed, and giggled and howled. Your eyes darted around tentatively; perhaps your receptionist would hear me and burst through the doors. The acting was quite spectacular; I must commend that. Tears streamed from the corners of my eyes, while I swiped at each with both hands.

“Are you deaf?” leaning forward, I said through my teeth “I am pregnant- and you know it” It was not news to you. Bastard, I knew.

Whatever color left in your face was now gone. That was all the affirmation I needed.
I rocked myself but could not stop the tears. I squeezed my hands and could not stop the trembling.

“What I don’t understand is why? Why? Why would you do this to me? Why would you ruin my life?” I slammed hard on the table with both hands. My chest tightened and tightened. “My God, my aunt, how do I tell her? Oh my god she needs to know” I covered my face with shaky hands. They still smelled like the hospital sanitizer.

“Amy, please relax, You are diso-“

I shoved my chair back, and stood.
“You sick fuck. Wait till I tell your wife you are a rapist.” I spat “and to think I trusted you. Just you watch me… after I leave here I am heading straight to the police”

“I can’t let you do that, Amy,” you said, standing up and grabbing my arm. The gaze in your eye,menacing.
Retrospectively, I should have known, with the way your other hand stayed close to your side. Yet, the action was so swift, I did not realize until I felt the sharp pain of the needle stab my skin. I tried struggling, but within the next few seconds, an unnerving calm blanketed me. Slowly, I fell through a black mass, and into a collection of dreams I had experienced before. A place I was so familiar with, just the thought made me nauseous.

The rest of it zaps through my mind like a snapshot catalog; I, in and out of hypnosis, unconscious episodes induced by tranquilizers  you and my aunt administered, while you kept me locked up in that basement. Until I had her,  then you drove me to that awful place and dumped me there. It wasn’t rape, as I later realized.  You had both agreed to inseminate me with your sperm. I squeezed my eyes shut.
Today was not about that though; today was for salvation. Today, held the promise of a permanent sanctuary from those memories. Every single day for the past one month, I relived a moment from the previous nine months in that cold, lonely basement. Today, I get what I have always wanted from you; freedom.

At 1:05am, I step out of my stolen car into the cold night air, gallon of gasoline in hand. Thank Goodness, no one policed me about smoking since I ditched that place. With an unlit cigarette hanging between my grin, I work slowly ensuring everywhere is drenched. Then, I take a step back and smoke, enjoying every deep, long, drag. I cannot wait to finish it, before dropping it, quite dramatically I must say, on the front porch.  As the house lit up, I walk away imagining what your last words were, and the final expression of that evil spawn you had them put in me.
******
At the airport, I came across a certain headline. It read:
    ‘Wanted woman diagnosed with ‘Fregoli’s delusion’, who escapes sanitarium, is caught on camera as she sets house and its occupants on fire.’
I decided to read the column. Apparently, they thought I was crazy. It said I had you all confused with this family, as if that was possible. You had died in prison after the police arrested you and my aunt few weeks back, like I saw on the news then. I laughed at that; they really thought you had committed suicide. I wasn’t surprised, because they knew nothing about who you were. They referred to you and my aunt as the ‘innocent couple’ and victims of this arson.

However, I knew.  And now, I was sure; sure of your deaths. Reclining in my seat, I sighed. Now, peace.

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