You’re holding the gun against me so gently. Ironic, since there’s already an arrow lodged deep within my chest. Your smouldering gaze holds me frozen in place and my heart skips a beat. I knew you would come for me.
‘Everyone thinks they know my story’, you say. But they’ve only heard stories; they’ve never seen the cape, the pistols, the eyeliner. Not like this. Not up close. My breath catches.
‘I’m no Prince Charming’, you warn, but your voice breaks slightly. I love it when all you talk about is yourself. I don’t even remember asking but somehow you read my mind.
You whisper in my ear, demanding my money on pain of death. My toes curl. The tension is killing me. The thing is, I did think I knew your story. After all, this is not our first encounter. You have stolen from me before, and you have been stealing every day since, every moment that you impose yourself on my mind without having the decency to pay even a lick of rent. We have been sharing this house, you and I, for months now, but I am the one being swindled out of my own senses. Is that why I am so unafraid, with your eyes surveying my jewels, my gown, my purse? My heart, my soul, my mind have already been robbed. Anything more you take from me can only be superficial, mere trinkets to adorn the beating organ you hold in your gloved hands.
[The temperature in the carriage increases]
I thought I could change you, thought that eventually you would tire of daylight robbery and turn your attentions to nighttime revelry. I had dreams of us escaping to Yorkshire, you could change your name, give up the cape – save for the bedroom – and be my romantic hero. But here we are, surrounded by strangers and instead of baring your soul to me, you’re pointing your pistol at me. How is it that you can stare at me so blankly, so coldly from under that jauntily-angled hat? Did you miss our relationship arc? All those pre-rehearsed conversations and perfectly planned rendezvous. Was I wrong in interpreting it as a proclamation of your love when you shot those two men dead? Did you not rob those other travelers at gunpoint to fund our honeymoon?
‘You recognised my handwriting’, you hiss. The accusation hangs in the air. Why are you looking at me with such venom? Recognise your handwriting? I didn’t know you could write. I want to apologise, to ask what’s going on, to give you the opportunity to explain everything. You lean in closer, press the gun harder against me.
[The sexual tension reaches a crescendo]
I gasp for breath, close my eyes. I wonder where your eyeliner is fro—