Tap, tap.

Couples all have those quirky things they do; those inside jokes that come from sharing your soul with another person. A word that makes you both laugh for no reason, a habit that neither of you knows where it began. For them, it was the knocks. Eight raps on the door when he came home from work, one for every letter of “I love you.” Eight claps to wake him up from a lazy afternoon nap. Eight slow taps on his chest after they made love. Eight became their lucky number, and they made sure to marry in August.

Now, twenty-five years later, he sat alone in the dark, listening to the rain hit the window, and the thunder roll. The glass of scotch barely had time to warm in his hand before he brought it to his lips and took a large gulp. He tapped on the glass, five soft clinks, waiting for the other three that he prayed, begged to come, but he knew never would.

Three weeks ago, they had gone into the city for a night on the town: shopping, dinner, and a late night show. They were having so much fun. His mind’s eye betrayed him again, though, as it had every night, replaying that night over and over and over. He could still picture the silver gleam of the masked man’s knife, vivid as streetlight glinted off its blade. He could still picture her mix of fear and defiance as she clutched her purse tight. And he could still picture that silver slipping into her side. The blood poured over his fingers as they sank to the sidewalk. Tears blurred his vision while he yelled for help. Someone finally came, but it had been longer than an eternity for him since the blood has stopped running.

He sat nursing the half-empty glass. Lightning lit the room, shining off its surface like starlight on steel. With a primal roar of rage and sorrow, he pitched it across the room, watching it shatter like the life he once had. He snatched the bottle off the table, draining what little was left as he stumbled up the stairs to the bedroom.

Falling backwards, he kicked one shoe off before passing out. His dreams wavered back and forth between pleasant and terrible memories until he slowly opened his eyes. It was still dark, and he could hear the rain still falling on the roof. It was then that he felt it, icy cold on his skin, above his heart. Eight slow taps…

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