The Things We Do for Love


You’ve been planning how to kill him all night. There’s not much else to do when you’re sitting on a straight-backed chair, your arms tied behind you, your legs cuffed, a gag in your mouth, tape over your eyes. He left you here without a backward glance. You listened to the door slam, the car start, noticing how there’s no hesitation in his escape—just the final sound of gravel crunching as he hits the road. It will be dark soon; you know this without a watch on your wrist or a sun to tell you because you feel it in your bones. You are utterly alone again. The only noise is twigs snapping as animals dart about outside. The sound of your own heart beating.

You make your usual moves in the first hour—bouncing, trying to topple the chair, rubbing your gagged mouth with your shoulder, squirming. Nothing works; the knots merely tighten. Years of practice have made him an expert. He has wedged you in a corner so the goddamned chair won’t fall over. Your shoulder starts to hurt long before you loosen the gag and squirming only wedges you in tighter. You are miles away from anyone. He didn’t even need the gag; he just got a kick out of using your pale blue cashmere scarf to muffle you, of tying it tighter than he needed to, of seeing it—a gift from your sister— ruined. You should never wear lipstick when a night with him is in the cards.

During hours two through five: you review the facts of your life. It hasn’t been exemplary, and the odds are that if you die now, you’re going straight to hell. Hell is probably too good for you. If some people go to hell for cheating on their husband or lying to their father, where does that leave you? You cheated on your husband with your father and didn’t bother to lie about it. No selfless acts, no contributions to the right causes, no good deeds to right the scale. Christ! You decide you’d better not die today

In the sixth or maybe seventh hour, it comes to you. How to kiss someone from your bound position? Did you think kiss? You mean kill, right? How to kill someone. You couldn’t possibly want to kiss a man like him. Tying you up isn’t an acceptable overture to love. Remember that. REMEMBER THAT. The doctor in Houston, and the one in Dallas, tried to tell you that. Told you that handcuffs, rope, bungee cords, silk scarves are not the accouterments of love. You deserve better even if you know you don’t

Unless people you love have been tying you up your whole life, putting you in corners, turning out the lights. Unless people you want to kiss are often trying to kill you. Reading the signals wrong—or reading them right. Is that how it works? You can get it right if you keep reviewing it. You can make sense of it. And what else do you have to do here? You try to recite bible verses, the names of your sister’s children, state capitals.

He comes back in the ninth hour. He unties your hands first, and you run them through his hair and touch his cheek. He uncuffs your feet, and stumbling once, you walk right into his arms. He pulls the tape and gag away and you put your mouth on his—seeking out his strangely cold tongue.  Impetuously, you bite his tongue off.  You are surprised. You never once thought of doing this over those long hours.

He’s crying now—sobbing even. But Christ, you waited nine hours this time. He’s miles away from anyone— just like you were— and after taking the pistol from his pocket,  you shut the door and leave.

The sound of the gravel is under your feet now as do what the doctor in Austin suggested and walk away.

~ fin ~

Patricia Abbott

Patricia Abbott is the author of Concrete Angel and forthcoming Shot in Detroit (Polis Books). More than 135 of her stories have appeared in print, many of them with Shotgun Honey. She also published two ebooks (MONKEY JUSTICE and HOME INVASION) through Snubnose Press. She lives in Detroit.

Her blog is