How Love Works

How Love Works

September 3, 2018 0 By SCOTT HALLAM

A dozen peonies laid on Rachel’s front porch. Her favorite. Rachel’s unlike anyone I’ve ever dated. Green eyes that pierce the night. A smile that blots out the sun.

+++++And I was there when she got the call. When she found out her mother was sick. I won’t bother her tonight. If I could swallow her mother’s tumors one by one, I’d do it. I’d do anything for Rachel. That’s how love works.


I left a note tucked behind a windshield wiper of her Corolla. Sprayed my cologne on it. The message: I’m here. I understand.

+++++Rachel knows that I lost my mother at age six. One of the many intimate details of my life that I’ve shared with her over the past two years. I wanted her to see the note before she left for work. Maybe it’d brighten her day. A glimmer of light in these dark times.


I texted Rachel a cartoonish image of my avatar with red hearts instead of eyes. If I could get her to laugh, that’d be a win. I miss her breath on my neck that always smelled like peppermint. But this isn’t about me. It’s her time to take care of her mom, her time to think — like she texted me last week. What does it say in the bible? “Love is patient, Love is kind?” My love is patient. It waits for Rachel alone.


+++++Today, I sent her three dozen peonies at work and filled her car with red balloons. Her favorite color. I had her spare key. I knew she’d be pissed, but then she’d laugh and say, “There goes Benny again.” Maybe she’d give me a call tonight, and I could take her out to her favorite Thai place. I know she doesn’t have much of an appetite these days. She needs to keep her strength up.


+++++Last night, I saw a black BMW in her driveway. Must have arrived when I was at work. I think I need to take a leave of absence. Money is just paper. Love endures.

+++++She’s really worrying me. I can’t see inside her windows anymore because the blinds are shut tight. My stomach wrenches when I think of her. I threw up three times today.

+++++I shouldn’t have slashed the BMW’s tires. That was wrong of me. Might’ve been just a friend or relative from out-of-town. I’ll text her later to apologize.


+++++I admit it. I cried for two hours straight after I heard his voice on the phone. Deep. Like the voice belonged to someone tall and muscular. Probably not overweight and who still had all of his hair.

+++++It’s the grief. She’s not thinking straight.

+++++Polishing my Japanese sword collection is my only solace. The sharp blades glisten in candlelight. I’ll bring the katana when I pay Rachel a visit tonight. It’s my favorite. Maybe it’ll be Mr. Deep Voice’s favorite too. Maybe she’ll finally understand my pain.

+++++And if not, well, there are ways to ensure that we’ll be together forever. That’s how love works.

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Scott Paul Hallam is a dark fiction writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has been published in venues such as Cease, Cows; Ghost Parachute; Unnerving’s “Hardened Hearts” anthology; and Night to Dawn magazine. He earned his Master’s in English Literature from Duquesne University and first fell in love with the written word when his dad would read him stories by Edgar Allan Poe as a kid. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottHallam1313.

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