Budapest

A short story by Meg Sorick.

I tasted blood. I was on my knees, my eye was swelling shut but at least I was alone. Somehow –and the how was really fuzzy– I had managed to fight off my attacker. The block was quiet and dark except for the street lights at regular intervals. I had been in that dark space between two of them when I was struck from behind. Some preternatural sense had made me move at the last minute so that the blow didn’t find its mark, probably saving my life.

I pulled myself to my feet, abandoned my errand and hurried back to the apartment we’d rented for the month. “Let’s live abroad,” my husband had said. “We’ll never get this chance again,” he’d insisted. “You will love Budapest,” he’d promised. “I can work on my book and you can indulge yourself in history,” he’d tempted.

Julian had a way of convincing me that all his ideas were mine, too. So that when things didn’t go as planned I could share the blame. I kept looking over my shoulder as I ran, terrified that the attacker would return. I never should’ve gone out alone this late at night.

Julian had been tapping away at his keyboard all evening while I read quietly on the other end of the narrow sofa. Without looking up, he said, “Cara, I’m out of cigarettes. Get me some, would you?” It wasn’t really a request. The ‘would you’ was just a polite afterthought. He knew I would go. Most of the time it was just easier to acquiesce rather than bear his brooding if I refused his wishes. Tonight however, I had resisted.

“But Julian, it’s nearly midnight. Nothing will be open,” I reasoned.

“Try the Lado,” he suggested. “They’re open late.”

“You must be joking,” I laughed mirthlessly. “That’s seven blocks away.”

“But Cara,” he pouted. “I’m on a roll. The words are flowing effortlessly tonight. Please don’t make me beg you. You do care about me don’t you?”

Internally I rolled my eyes. I had fallen in love with the quintessential temperamental artist. Tall and gaunt, but roguishly handsome, a brilliant conversationalist, educated, cultured and absolutely the most frustrating and childish creature I’d ever known. He had enchanted me, romanced me, made me lose all sense and reason, and married me six weeks after we’d first met. Our days were certainly numbered. But tonight, I thought… tonight I would accede to his wishes once again and tomorrow I would make plans to leave.

I arrived at the door breathless, my heart thundering in my chest. Perhaps he would come to his senses when he saw my injuries. Surely he’d agree that Budapest was a mistake. With shaking hands, I inserted the key into the lock on the outer door of the apartment building. Tears of relief spilled over as I closed the door behind me and leaned back against it.

I climbed the three flights of stairs and stumbled, weeping, into the apartment. Julian stood and came over to me. I collapsed into his arms as he held them out to me. “There, there, Cara. There, there…”

“Julian,” I sobbed. “We have to get out of here. I can’t spend another night in this place.”

“Cara,” he said, holding my face between his hands. “We aren’t going anywhere.” He grasped me by the shoulders and spun me around. From the darkened bedroom a figure stepped forward. Julian shoved me toward him and snarled, “Now, be a good girl and let the man finish his work.”

94 thoughts on “Budapest

  1. Okay, hairs raised on the back of my neck at the end there but …
    1. What motive did the husband have for doing that. You perhaps need to mention something about money or an affaire or something that would have hinted at a motive.
    2. What reason did she have to leave him on the morrow. He didn’t seem to be in any way a bad person. Maybe he was a little controlling – but that probably describes all men to some degree (or maybe we wish it were so).
    3. Why Budapest? Why did he insist on that place. Was it difficult to write in … wherever they were before then?
    I love the way you write, Meg – you have a smooth, fluid style that is effortless to read and you have a compelling way of sucking the reader into the story. It goes to say that your grammar, syntax and stuff like that is immaculate.
    Wait – why am I telling you all of this? You didn’t invite any comment. You are an established and published author and your books have probably been translated into 35 language. Erm. Hmm. Sorry about that.
    Kindness – Robert.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. All of those issues… I’d need a lot more time and space to flesh out those bones. Perhaps she’s an heiress and he a fortune hunter. Budapest may be a place he has contacts. She knows she’s made a huge mistake marrying this man she hardly knows…. So forth. Leaving it to the readers’ imaginations.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is right up there with other recent classics from the MS cannon – Two Lovely Years, Nightwork, Cape Helene and naturally Repose. The description of the quintessential temperamental artist was spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I didn’t see that coming, and really loved the build up of tension before the last blow, just when you think she’s out of the woods. And I could completely see Julian, his personality shines in those few sentences. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did not expect THAT!!! I’m hoping she misunderstood everything completely and he was only trying to take a picture for a portrait or something. And that he tried telling her but she hurt him before she could. And I know all of that is just wishful thinking! Once again, blown away! Want to know what’s next in this too. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to organize and publish these short stories, either as a submission somewhere or as a collection. I’m not sure I have enough for a collection yet, though. *scribble, scribble* 😃 Thanks again, I’m so glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

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