Flash Fiction / Writing

Habit by L.A. Murphy

Motivation is what helps me murder. Habit is what reminds me to hack up the body and leave it ceremoniously spread out for a person who discovers it.

I’ve always been a flawless artist. I remember in school how the teachers would be in awe of my canvas but the images left me empty. My hands ached for more. Something altogether more complex. Something alive and…breathing. It couldn’t be just anyone. An artist needs to create beauty and one cannot do that with a flawed view.

It took months to find her. Had I not gone to the store that day, I may never have found her; my first. They say you always remember your first time. They’re not wrong. She was a vision. A golden beauty, tall and lean. I made sure to stand close as she reached for some insignificant item. I inhaled her scent. Hot and natural. I remember how her eyes glanced to my form and she smiled politely as she removed herself from my presence.

I followed her for seven days. To work, to the library, the gym. I had to see her in her natural state. First impressions really aren’t everything and she had to be…beautiful.

Getting into her house was easy. Small towns like ours, everyone is far too at ease. A fact that is a blessing for an artist such as myself. I heard her come in, exhale heavily after a hard day. I heard shows clatter across the floor, keys hit the bowl. Poor lamb. I knew I could make it all better.

I stood silent, anxious to begin my work. I’d already drawn the bath, filled with my favourite scent; lavender. I spent whole minutes hoping and wishing she would appreciate it.

She came up the stairs and my pulse quickened. My chest tightened ever so slightly as anxiety turned to excitement.I heard her approach the bedroom, the same floor board creaked for her as it did for me. She entered and I saw her dark form. All she needed to do was turn on the light and we could have begun. I saw her hand raise for it, instinctually reaching for light. But then a pause. The soft glow from the en suite catches her eye. The soft flicker of the lit candles causing her to question her safety.

I watched as her hand fell and she began to pace toward the bathroom. I hadn’t really planned for the discovery just yet but it worked better for me in the end. As the door crept open, she froze. Fear paralysed her better than any drug could have.

I quickly approached from behind and slid my hand over her mouth while using the other to push a knife against her throat. She fought for a moment until she felt the knife press harder into her skin. I kept her mouth covered, fearful she may forget her manners and any vulgarity would have infringed on her value.

I whispered softly into her ear. I remember my words perfectly.

“Undress. I won’t look. It’s time for your bath.”

I had a gun in my bag the whole time but  I find fire arms to be so tacky and cliché. At this point my pulse was racing with excitement. I couldn’t wait to get started. I watched as she bathed, weeping. She tried to talk to me on several occasions but I’d show her my knife and point to the water and she’d soon return to bathing and weeping. How it bothered me, seeing my canvas crying when I demanded perfection.

I began to circle her as she came to the end. The predator circling the prey, the artist circling his masterpiece. I stopped behind her head, she twitched every so slightly, no doubt looking for an escape or a weapon. I knew then my preparation had to end. I grasped handfuls of her thick, wet hair and brought the knife down quickly, burying the blade deep into her throat. As it pierced her skin, the blood flowed instantly. I tried to alter the angle of her head so the blood dripped only into the tub but a lot pulsated onto the tile, a nouvelle piece for the walls. She almost tried to scream but the gurgling of blood prevented it from happening.

She remained in the tub for nearly an hour while I prepared my ersatz studio in her bathroom, my brushes now replaced with saws and knives.

It took a few minutes for the water to drain and I slowly moved the body to the floor. It was harder than I had anticipated. I’m not a strong man but I managed. Finally, my work could begin.

It took hours and hours and I started to worry it might take too long and someone would notice she was missing. Around 6am I had her ready, hair plaited, nails trimmed and cleaned. Any body hair I found, I left. No artist would alter the landscape too much for fear of changing the piece itself.

Finally I could place her. Rigor mortis had well and truly set in so it was the easiest part.

I set the head amidst the pillows, swinging the plait to the right. If you squinted it almost looked like the rest of her could be in the bed. Her hands, those beautiful hands, they found their home on the dining room table. One was placed on a single white plate, the other I left resting atop a knife and fork. Arms and legs were scattered. one rested on the stairs, one sat on the bookshelf in the living room, one remained in the bath tub and the last one I left beside a carving knife on the kitchen counter top. I placed the feet into a beautiful pair of heels and left them by the front door.

I placed the torso by the fridge, it almost didn’t fit so I had to leave the fridge door open. As I left I saw the light from the fridge casting a grotesque shadow onto the floor. I was pleased with this development. My final strokes saw me retrieve my camera.

I am no Picasso. I am no Monet. My work will not be housed in safety forever so I must capture it before it is destroyed. I left the house at 7.30am, safe in the knowledge that I would not die before my work is appreciated.

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