“The Minnesota Plan,” I muttered, staring into the swirling waters of the creek, captivated by its tranquility. “Why does it consume me?” But, of course, I was fooling myself. I knew perfectly well why I was in the midst of an ill-contrived plot to murder my ex-girlfriend. Although at first, I had no intentions of actually following through. With each passing day the notion became more plausible, predestined really, in my twisted distortion of reality.
I sat in silence, perched on a flat boulder in a ravine near my apartment, which Steve and I had aptly nicknamed the canyon. Our first week on campus, my new roommate, Steve and I, had attempted to take a shortcut home from the bars. We had cut through the small wooded area with only our phones and the moonlight to light the way. Disoriented, inebriated, and in unfamiliar territory, we unknowingly stumbled into the shallow ravine. Steve had fallen in the water, reacting hysterically and ranting about being stuck in a canyon. We regrouped at the boulder, telling each other dirty jokes and laughing to lighten the mood. Eventually, we lumbered out of the ravine to discover, rather ironically, that we had been merely feet from our apartment.
Now the canyon was not a place of cheer, but of solace. To my dismay, it did not bring its usual equanimity. The Minnesota Plan was replaying over and over in my mind like an unending nightmare. Simply put, I could no longer control the plan, for it now had a life of its own. There was no stopping its evolution. I was obsessed with working out details and closing out the glaring loopholes.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t the most creative name for this fantasy I had so meticulously formulated, but it had a hell of a ring to it. The Minnesota Plan. I repeated it in my head like a mantra. The words delivered goose bumps every time. Its evil intentions were beginning to infiltrate my better judgment.
I had never really considered myself crazy. Now and then throughout my scheming I would sit back and analyze my work. The entire thing was complete madness: illegal, immoral, and irresponsible. In the beginning, I had concluded that if the plan was executed I was undoubtedly a sociopath with no chance of rehabilitation. Was I insane for simply entertaining the idea? But now I had to finish outlining the plan, at the very least. Hopefully then it would release me from its all-consuming clutches.
Gently, I massaged my temples in a vain attempt to relieve a nagging headache. I concentrated on the soothing sound of the water. My eyes fell upon the faded photograph of her, her sister, and me, resting on my knee. Her older sister resembled her in build, and they could almost pass for twins, if not for the height difference and her sister’s haughty personality. I had folded her sister out of the picture. We were both happy, beaming, unknowing of the pain our future held. I focused on the fingerprint smudge on the corner of the wrinkled photo; a brief glance of her was all I could bear. It took all my willpower to resist her mesmerizing hazel eyes, adoring smile, and tousled brown hair. The feelings of hurt and betrayal had not diminished with time as everyone said they would, they just seemed to intensify.
Concentrating on the plan held my emotions at bay. It suppressed the profound sadness that crept into my bed with me at night and consumed me with hopelessness. At times I was convinced she was prodding a Voodoo doll of me. I wouldn’t let her win. No, I could not allow her the satisfaction.
Twilight crept over the wood, a chill filling the canyon. I shuddered. Sighing, I decided to head back home. I retied my shoelaces with my patented triple knot; I had taken to heart the lessons of safety and preparation I had learned as a Scout. As I trudged up the dirt path that led back to civilization, my thoughts inevitably turned to her.
How many days had it been since we’d spoken? One hundred and eight, I think. One hundred and thirty since I’d last laid eyes on her. Stop it! Wincing, I gritted my teeth. I shook my head vigorously as if that alone would make such thoughts disappear. What Calculus homework did I have? What should I get my mom for her birthday? Was there any milk left in the refrigerator? But it was a losing battle. Invariably, I relented and allowed the plan to consume me. For now, the pain eased.
Although every day I reminded Steve to lock the door, I knew it would be unlocked. Sure enough, it creaked open when I turned the knob.