The words were probably Latin. He liked to write in the dead language so it was probably Latin. She could not read it and would not read it even if she could. Her instinct was to wad the letter up and throw it away – far away from her and her car. The mere feeling of it made the flesh in her fingers crawl. He was watching – he was always watching. She could feel him watching her so she folded the note and set it in the seat beside her. The rose was placed on top of the note.
The letters had been coming for over a month now. They first appeared after she broke off her relationship with him. The break up had been uncomfortable for her and apparently unacceptable for him. At first, it was only a note now and then, always written in Latin and accompanied by a single red rose.
The frequency had increased and the intensity in the letters seemed to grow – they were no longer just notes, but several pages of those dead words calling out to her. The paper showed the wear of him pressing down hard. Some days there would even be a tear in one of the pages. She moved her car, but he always found it. He was watching.
Some nights he would sit under her third floor window on the picnic table below. He never tried to get to her apartment. He never yelled or threatened. He would just sit calmly at the table and let her know he was near. She watched him and tried not to imagine what he was writing on the papers around him as he sat at the table below.
Other nights he would call. He wanted her back. He needed her back. All of the attention and all of the words were to prove to her that she belonged with him.
The evening before exams, he had watched her window until late. She looked out before crawling in bed and he was still there. Just the thought of him below her made sleep uneasy, but she tried. He must have given up his tableside vigil, because the ringing phone later disrupted her restless slumber.
“You have to come back to me.”
She had heard it all before, and nothing had changed for her. It was over and there was no going back. Words were not necessary. He would not listen anyway.
“I will not live without you.”
She was through. He would have to find a way to live without her. He pushed her to her limit and she was through. She hung up the phone and unplugged it from the wall for good measure. Sleep seemed to come much easier after that.
Morning came clear and bright and she chose to walk to class. Voices buzzed in the room until she walked in. They turned and stared and now everyone was watching her. Her roommate grabbed her arm and led her out of the room.
“He did it.”
She knew who the he was, but she shook her head because she had no idea what he had done.
“They found him not long ago. He had overdosed.”
She looked around and found a seat before her legs gave out. The unplugged phone left her with a knot in her stomach. He may have called her for help.
“That is not all.”
What else could there be.
“They found a gun next to him in the parking lot.”
She looked up with surprise and fear. Had he been waiting for her? She gathered her strength and began the walk across campus. They followed her – in part to be sure she was okay but also to see.
The yellow tape was obvious even before they got to her car. It was around the spots just up a few spaces from where she had parked. The rose was on the windshield, but there was no note. Was he waiting for me?
She sat down on the curb and could see the note that had fallen under her car. She crawled over and took it out. The words were not in Latin.
“I told you.”
She stood up and shook the dirt off her pants. These words would not rule over her any more than the dead ones that came before. She wadded up the note and threw it in the trash. She did not care if he was watching because she knew now that her freedom belonged to her and her alone.