You know it's her from the moment you see her. Standing at the side of the road in the dark, car stopped with a flat tire, all alone. Pale blonde hair - she nearly glows in the moonlight. She's the one. She's perfect. You pull up alongside her; she looks nervous, because she's all alone at night and you're approaching her, but you wish she would be happy to see you, even if you're strangers. You wish she would smile.
"Need a ride?" You make your tone light, your face friendly.
She hesitates. "Uh, yeah, sure. Just to the gas station, if that's okay." Her hair is parted just off to the left, long and stick straight, just perfect. Her eyes are hazel. Her voice sends a shiver down your spine. She must have been made just for you, wished into existence at the side of the road like this. Yes, she must be yours.
The gas station is lit up with neon signs, purple and red. You glance over at your passenger seat - she has her hands folded on her lap, clutching her brown leather purse. She's wearing a long-sleeved grey dress. Carefully, you flip a switch on your door panel, locking the truck doors.
"This is me," she announces as you get closer to the gas station. A hand moves to her seatbelt, ready to unbuckle it. She still doesn't trust you. You frown. "Hey, uh, you missed the gas station." There's an edge to her voice.
"Don't worry," you say. "We're almost there." Another chill on your spine, talking about 'we'. Yes, she's perfect. You're perfect. She'll know that, now.
There's a wallet-sized photo clipped to your sun visor, which you haven't bothered to put back up since daytime. It's a picture of her. It hurts you and excites you to look at, and sometimes it even distracts you from keeping your eyes on the road. Not now, though. She never gave you a chance before, said you were creepy, said she had other plans. She wouldn't smile at you, not even when you tried to make her. You pull up at last to your destination - your date, if you will. It's an abandoned warehouse. A movie-worthy setting. You can practically feel how tense she is. She shouldn't be tense. She should be smiling. "Gas is cheaper here," you say, stopping the vehicle.
Getting out of the truck, you walk around to the trunk. Getting what you need is easy despite the dark: a fake-leather makeup case, you could find it with your eyes closed. Muscle memory is a funny thing. You chuckle quietly to yourself. She's still sitting in the passenger seat. You open the door for her with a flourish and she steps gingerly onto the ground. You do wish she wasn't so nervous.
You open the door for her again on the way inside. The building is empty, of course - you don't like to trick her, but she wouldn't have come. Just like her. You flip the lightswitch. She stops short as you lock the door behind you. "Hey, there's nothing in here." She turns around, tries to push past you, but you're stronger than she is. "Let me out!"
"The door's locked," you inform her, even though she's already trying frantically to twist the doorknob. You unzip the makeup case, take out a roll of duct tape. Tape her wrists behind her. Muscle memory. She screams. Another chill, that first scream. Every time. You tape her to a concrete pillar so she won't move so much. You tape her legs together. That was the thing about her. You didn't want sex, not really, even if that was what she thought you wanted. What you wanted - what you needed - was to make her smile. To make her smile.
You set the case down on the ground in front of her, tuning out her screams just for a moment to focus. She'll stop screaming eventually, and you don't want to miss it while it lasts. That was the mistake you made with her. You line up your tools with precision. There are three knives, all different sizes, next to a little digital camera. And then - one, two, three, four tubes of lipstick, each a different shade of red. You arrange them in a triangle, your favourite at the top. It's the closest to hers.
You take out the littlest knife first, tilting it back and forth in the fluorescent light. She stops screaming for just a second, breathing heavily. You're sure, though you aren't looking yet, that she's watching the blade, wondering what you're going to do with her. You step up close to her face, looking into her perfect eyes. Really, you think to yourself, sighing contentedly, the only problem with her face is her expression. You want her to smile. You need her to smile. "Smile, sweetheart." Your tone is gentle, you know it is. You've practiced in the mirror. But she doesn't listen. She doesn't give you a chance. So you take her chin in your hand, holding her head still, and you slide your knife into the side of her mouth. You push the blade up, gently, gently. A thin line of blood trickles down her chin. She whimpers. That makes you angry, whimpering and bleeding like that when you're going to so much trouble for her.
You need her to smile.
You need her to smile.
So you make her smile.