It was late by the time he got back to his own flat. His footsteps echoed in empty flat, in the dark. He switched on the light, savouring the quiet, and got a beer out of the fridge. Betty didn't used to like him drinking, but, well nothing stopped him now. He even put some music on.
Easing himself on to the couch, he leaned back, and closed his eyes. His phone buzzed. Must be Janet, wishing him goodnight...
"Who's texting you at this hour, hm?"
He tensed with a jolt. He felt someone tickle the vicinity of his face. That lisp was prominent as ever, unmistakably it was...
"Did I scare you?,” she breathed.
As he turned to look at her, he couldn't control his expressions. He grimaced, open-mouthed, but couldn't force a word out. But neither could he couldn't look away from her face.
How was she here? Hours ago, he'd seen her dead. He wanted to bolt, close the door, and find somewhere safe and quiet to think. Was she real? Was she an imaginary embodiment of some repressed guilt?
"Robert!," she elbowed him sharply, pouting, "You're scaring me!”
There was something wrong with her mouth. She sounded wrong.
He forced himself into a mellow demeanour.
"Just trying to spook you, honey," he attempted to breeze. He laughed, but it trembled.
He reached upwards, a little awkwardly, to crook her chin in his hand. He had to touch her- he had to see if she was really there.
Her cherub lips simpered as she grinned, showing all of her teeth.
Oh god, her teeth...
There was no mistake that she was solid, she was real. But she wasn't herself.
He had to get away, just for a second, but before he could moved she slinked around to join him on the sofa, pinning one of his legs with her foot.
"Why are you drinking?,” she teased. “Is there some occasion no one's told me about?”
She was using that tone, the one somewhere between chastising and coy. She was so changeable- when he'd first met her, he thought her mysterious and unpredictable. Now he knew all too well that he treaded a constant line between him causing her to throw a tantrum or go off in a sulk, or her inflicting her brand of saccharine flirting upon him.
He hated both outcomes.
"It's a Friday...I just thought, you know.”
"Are you suure there's no other occasion?”
Was it possible she knew she was dead? That she'd seen him identify her on the slab?
He said nothing.
"It's our anniversary, silly! Don't tell me you've forgotten.”
She was a storm and he couldn't predict her. What if she did something?
He braced himself.
Her chin jumped up as she laughed.
“It's a good thing I didn't marry you for your memory, isn't it?
He couldn't stop seeing her teeth. “I...I suppose so”.
She burrowed herself into him, pressing against him, and kissed him. The feeling of dread that had been building in him since she'd surprised him now reached a peak as he noted how cold her skin was to the touch.
“Are you sure you're okay, Robert?,” she cooed.
“Yes,” he gulped. “Just fine, Darling”.