Her finger. It was the first thing I saw: its movement on the counter caught my eyes. She was tapping it, the flat of her second finger on the fake marble. Anyone might have recognized the expectant movement of a coffee addict impatiently waiting for their fix. But I knew better. The movement of that finger and the way her eyes moved screamed of anxiety.
You know how some people seem to have “victim” written on their brow; well that word was written in her eyes, in her fingers, on her entire body for anybody to see. Well not anybody, but a person with the proper sense of observation could tell that she was terrified in this crowded coffee shop. I even spared a second to wonder why she would come at rush hour. Bottom line though, I didn’t care.
I watched her fingers clutch around the coffee cup when the waiter gave her the double caramel macchiato she’d ordered. The guy seemed upset at her finger tapping misreading it for impatience – as most people did. But when she smiled, he must have realized she wasn’t your usual caffeine addict. He smiled back. And I wanted to kill him. She was mine. I could imagine my fingers wrapping themselves around his throat. I’m territorial so what? That guy didn’t know her half as well as I did in that moment.
I knew her type; I wondered what made her so. Who made her fragile? Who made her perfect for me? I’m attracted to victims. I can’t help myself. They appeal to me; like a moth to a flame I’m always getting burned. Because they burn me; they always do in the end. But time and time again I find another one.
She was different – they always are in the beginning. Her fingers were long, her hands beautiful. She must be a pianist or musician of sort; her nails were cut short, trimmed perfectly. Women her age tended to keep their nails longer and painted; for fashion and flirting. There’s something powerful about a woman with nail polish. Its blatant absence on her beautiful hands was merely an addition to everything else only added to that sense of being a victim. She tried to not be noticed: varnish would have caught people’s attention. I know I sound as if I did know her intimately. I did. I do. I know victims. I know how they think, how they behave.
What makes each one different in the beginning is that I never know why they are that way. Once I know… well it’s only a repetition of what I heard before. It’s such a disappointment. I always hope that one of them will truly be different. I always live with the expectation one will surprise me. You have no idea how much victims have in common: their parents divorced, they got mugged, harassed, bullied – that’s a frequent one – or raped. Very few have survived a potentially lethal situation. But mostly it’s kids with perfect lives until they don’t. And they can’t cope. So I followed her; I wanted to know everything there was to know about her.
Her name, Faith, was the first thing I learned, that very same day when we entered the university building she must be studying in. A friend called her name, a guy. His arm around her shoulders obviously made her uncomfortable. Not a boyfriend then. She was a musician after all; she played the cello in the university orchestra. But she was majoring in physics. She had a brain then. Parents were half a world away with her younger siblings. She’d come here to study. That did surprise me: I’d never seen a victim remove themselves voluntarily from their safe environment. She still lived by a routine: same bus every day whether she started her classes at 9am or 12pm. Same coffee every morning. Same spot at the library if she came early. When I finally ‘bumped’ into her and introduced myself, there was only one thing left for me to discover: how she became a victim.
She was hard work from that moment though. The first part had been easy. That was hard, harder than any other before. It took a whole month before she let me invite her for coffee. Another whole month before she told me why she’d come here to study when London offers perfectly good universities; she hadn’t come here. Her parents had gone to London and she’d stayed. Why the slight accent then? Her mother was British. Half a year before she let me kiss her. Even that seemed difficult for her. How exciting! And it took another half a year before I finally got my answers, when she eventually came to my house. I’d never needed a full year to figure out someone. I’d never spent that much energy on one person alone. I actually abandoned my other projects. Usually, I could have up to four victims wrapped around my fingers at any given time and have my pick of fun. A month was the most I’d ever needed. I couldn’t read her. And somehow I loved it. I knew I would feel bad when it finally came to an end. But come to an end it would. It always does.
Only it didn’t end the way I expected. That little slut tricked me. I knew it the moment she peeled away her shirt. I knew the marks on her back; I’d seen them before. Many times. Hadn’t I meticulously applied them on each of my victims before I killed them? Which one was she? Why wasn’t she dead? The British accent; a nasty trick. That bitch played me and I hadn’t seen it coming. I jumped at her and wrapped my fingers around her neck. But, as I pressed against her throat, she laughed. That bitch laughed. She no longer acted a victim: where was the victim I’d seen for a year in her eyes? And the door opened: fucking police everywhere. They arrested me. Me. I’m fucking Dr. Gerson. I’m a genius psychiatrist. And they arrested me. Instead of that bitch who tricked me. She may think herself clever but I’ve got followers out there; she’ll never be safe from me. She’s mine. She doesn’t know it but she is.
My finger is never too far from her; and when I lift it, one of my disciples will find her and bring her back to me. So I can finish what I started. It’ll be magical to see the mark of my fingers on her throat, as life leaves her eyes. I want to see her realize she’s always a victim, that she believed she reclaimed her life only to have it taken away again. She’s mine.
Do you hear me Faith? Or whatever your name is? You’re mine. You always will be. I’ll be haunting your nightmares forever. You’ll always be a victim. You’ll always be my victim. Mine.