The Button


Aubrey Cruson

A woman’s hand with long red nails pushing a red button

How far can I go before you break? How long will you last when I test your every nerve? I don’t know, but I intend to find out. 

“Look, I get it. There are things you need, but it isn’t my job to get you them.” My voice doesn’t waver, even as your eyes drop. I feel a surge of power. Watching you hurt always gives me that. I want to see how much hurt I can cause until you leave. 

“I know it isn’t your job, I was just hoping that maybe you would be able to go.” I can see you are shaking even as you try to pretend that you have any certainty in yourself.

“I don’t want to go to your stupid concert; If you had spent more time doing something important, maybe I would consider it, but you haven’t. You just waste your time sitting around writing your songs. They aren’t even good.” I see a wall drop in your face as you realize there’s no chance of convincing me. “Without me here, you’d have nothing. You’d just be another failing, starving artist sitting on the street, hoping someone would give you money. No one would.” I keep pushing. I want you to hurt. I want to see you cry. 

You’re pretty when you cry. 

“Alright. I understand, thank you for helping me.” The words sound almost bitter leaving your mouth, and the door slams behind you as you walk out. I haven’t seen that reaction from you before. I wonder how much longer we have left. 

How much longer can I push your buttons?

Pondering your pain has become my favorite past-time. I am slowly breaking you apart, piece by piece and you won’t leave me. You just need to remember, I made you. 

You’ll be the one to destroy me.

Your steps are timid as you come into the room. I look at you, but your head stays down, with hands hidden behind your back.
“I just want to understand. Why do you hate me so much?” Even as your voice shakes, you do not hesitate.

“I do not hate you,” my response is instant. “I treat you as you deserve; it is only to teach you where you belong.” 

“No.” You sound more certain than you ever have. 

“What do you mean ‘no’? I know what’s best for you.” I can feel my heart beating faster. I know once you go, I will lose myself the same way I lost you.

“I mean no,” You turn to the front door. “I’m leaving. Please don’t follow me.”

My pulse raises even more. I can’t let you go. I have you on the ground before my thoughts even register. You’re warm beneath me, but I can feel you fighting. I pushed too far. You were supposed to break, not get stronger. Pain blooms over my head. I am shoved off of you.

“I told you not to follow me,” you sound scared again. The sound of the door slamming behind you echoes over your words. The pain in my head is fading. The world is darkening, but I know. 

No matter where you go, you can never escape me.