Jake was a large man, tall and muscular. His half-decade as a marine had instilled in him the discipline and motivation to remain well conditioned and strong. His cardio vascular system no longer remained as well equipped as it once was, but that was partially due to the injury that resulted in his honorable discharge.
Jake had been shot in the leg, just above the knee, the same leg upon which he found himself kneeling. And the pain of the bullet entering his lower thigh had caused him to scream in agony, almost as loud a scream as he was agonizing at that moment kneeling on his weakened knee.
He looked up with watery eyes across the street. He had seen Amy smile a thousand times, in his thoughts, memories, and reality. He had seen her standing across from him a thousand times more, in much the same ways. But he had never seen her smile, standing across from him, in the way that she was smiling and standing across from him on that night.
Jake yelped a second and then a third time as he felt one penetrating blow land flush against his kidney, and the other squarely on his sternum. He was being pummeled in a way that he had never imagined, not even during his time in combat, when the enemy had been identified beforehand.
The pain prevented Jake from being able to lift his head. He only heard Amy laughing and cheering the course of events. He had heard her laugh and cheer a thousand times, but never in such a pure tone of unfettered sadism.
He had loved her. He had loved her forever, even before the moment they had met and the moment when he had been born. And he had never doubted that she felt the same about him. Not before stepping outside several minutes earlier.
"Get him, Hank! Yeah! Rip him a part! Get him again, Hank!"
Jake heard the words clearly. He was not entirely defeated. Not yet. And the quietness of the evening made the sound of her words unavoidable. With most people locked snuggly in their respective abodes, Jake had found himself ambushed without witnesses or the potential for rescue.
Amy, his Amy, was no longer the girl with whom he had shared a bed. She had, instead, inexplicably transformed into the girl with whom he was sharing a nightmare, his nightmare.
"That's what you freaking get, Jake! Take it! Take it all! Get him, Hank! Don't let him up! And take this too, Jake!"
Jake felt the contact against his jaw. He felt no pain, only the jolt. He absorbed the crushing blow, every pound of pressure it had to offer, but he was far too numb to scream any further. His spine went limp, causing his back to hit the ground with a softened thud.
Cold. His nerve endings had quieted their protests, having become overwhelmed and exhausted. Jake only felt cold, as it outlined his entire body.
"Oh, come on! Don't be such a wimp! Get up, Jake! Take your beating like a man!"
Jake was only thinking about one thing, could only think about one thing. What had he done to deserve this? He had loved Amy. He had loved her truly, dearly, and with unrelenting loyalty. Another value he had learned as a marine. If things had gone wrong, they had gone wrong. But not in any way that had warranted the fate he was impossibly struggling to accept. Mental anguish was more horrendous than any bullet wound by a fold of ten.
Jake could not move his eyes, but he still realized intuitively that Amy had finally decided it time to approach his still breathing corpse, to marvel at her butchery. He could sense her face staring down upon him.
"Damn, Jake," she whispered ominously, "I thought you were tougher than that. You know, you're a reeeaaal disappointment. All your muscles. All your talk. I thought I'd have a lot more fun torturing you than just this. I told Hank here, who I will be sleeping with tonight, FYI, that he'd better watch himself with you. That you'd fight back. But, you know, if that's all the beating you can take, that's all you can take." Amy forced herself to laugh. "And marines are supposed to be tough. Unbelievable." Amy forced herself to laugh even louder, and longer, seemingly without the intention of stopping.
She only laughed, however, until Jake quickly sat up and grabbed her by the neck, placing her into a clumsy headlock, and buried her face into the snow. He kept one hand on the back of her head and began shoveling snow down the neck of her coat before having to fend off Hank with his other hand.
Amy squealed and wiggled. As she did, Jake matched each squeal with a roaring exclamation of restitution. He had feigned weakness in order to use his strength, just as he had been expertly trained to do. And Amy, the love of his life, was bearing the consequences, which she more than deserved.
Having secured his revenge, inflicted his torment, Jake rolled onto his back, gasping, smiling up at the night sky shaded in white. He felt the flakes land on his skin and dissolve into moisture. He felt warm.
The sudden slap of Amy's arm wrapping around his stomach caused Jake to groan, just before giggling uncontrollably. He shrieked but laughed more heartily as the cold of Amy's snow covered cheek pressed against his. And his body surged with absolute joy as Hank hopped and danced around their caressing faces in the way only a mutt with short legs could in two feet of snow. The sloppiness of Hank's tongue did little by way of interrupting Jake and Amy from their deep kisses.
"So," Jake started, eventually, "by shovel the driveway, you meant come outside and let me bombard you with snowballs. That about right?"
Amy laughed simply. She laughed in a way that Jake had heard a thousand times before. In a way that he had adored each and every one of the thousand times before, including that night, especially.
Twenty-seven minutes later, Jake finally picked himself off the pile of snow and headed toward the backdoor of his house, their house. He dusted the caked snow from his jacket, stomped his boots on the doorframe, and walked inside.
At the same time, still outside, Amy lifted her finger over her mouth, commanding Hank the mutt to be quiet, as she secured two giant chunks of wet snow in her hands.
"Come on, Hankie," she yelled unnecessarily, buying time to ball the snow into more suitably sized objects for throwing. "Time to go inside. Go get Jake! Rip him a part!"
Sitting on the couch, cold and exhausted, Jake heard the words clearly. The quietness of the evening made the sound of her words unavoidable. But he was entirely defeated. Amy had won him over long ago, and again on that night. He only wanted to be locked snuggly in his respective abode with her, the girl with whom he shared everything.
As the condensed ice ball struck the side of his face, Jake's laughter was suppressed by the sound of hearing his jaw literally crack. With his hand over his mouth, he smiled at the thought that, after so much time, he had still been foolish enough to underestimate the woman he held in highest regard. He also cackled at the thought of retribution, and how many years he would have with her to think of a way to properly return the favor.