“No,” she whispered. “We need to leave at the same time. Hand me the knife.”

He held it to her, handle first, across the steamy, swirling water. “This life is so unpredictable, Jessie.” He spoke the words tenderly, evenly, smoothly, as the blood pumped out of his wrist and merged with the crimson water. “Who knows what the future holds? Your dad could get a new job and make you move away; your parents could get a divorce. ...” The blood continued to curl around him. “I could die in a car accident ... It’s best this way. The only way. This way nothing can ever separate us. This way, we’re in control of what happens. All that matters is us. All that matters is this moment.”

“Our love will unite us forever,” she whispered.

“Our love will unite us forever,” said Aaron Jeffrey Kincaid.

He held up his hand and watched the blood spill from his wrist. Watched as the patterns trailed down his arm and into the water. Watched as little rivers of blood dripped from his elbow and then twirled into the current, across his legs, around his heart, toward his girlfriend.

She took the knife, placed the blade against her left wrist, looked up at him. “Forever,” she said.

“Forever.”

She pulled the knife sharply across her left wrist and let out a gasp. He’d shown her how to do it right. The cut was more than sufficient. They’d practiced together using a butter knife to get the angle right. They’d rehearsed it all, down to the last detail. And this cut was not the tentative probing of someone who was unsure. Paramedics called those “hesitation marks.” But she wasn’t hesitant at all. No, she wasn’t just doing it for attention. She believed in everything he told her. He knew she did. She believed in Aaron Jeffrey Kincaid more than anything in the world.

“I’m doing this for you, Aaron,” she said. And the look in her eyes told him it was true. She would have done anything for him; had done everything for him. “I love you.”

“I know.”

Aaron watched her stare at the whirlpool for a moment. Blood was pumping out of her opened wrist now, pouring out. Swirling all around her in crimson currents as her body emptied itself of life. He wondered what she was thinking.

“I’m scared,” she whispered.

“Don’t be scared. We’re going to be together now. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Just do the other wrist like we practiced and hand me the knife.”

“Nothing can keep us apart,” she whispered, pressing the blade against her right wrist. “Nothing.”

“Nothing.”

She tried to make the cut, but the tendons had been damaged. Her hand trembled. “Help me,” she said feebly.

He eased over to her side of the whirlpool, took her hand in his, and held the knife firmly against her skin.

Then he pulled.

She grimaced, then twitched, then relaxed her arm. “Thank you,” she said.

He let go of her hand, and the knife dropped into the water—this second cut was even deeper than the first.

“Don’t worry about that,” he said. “I’ll get it.”

The water became darker and darker as the jets of the whirlpool chugged on. Curling and pumping. A deeper, sharper red. She had dropped her arms into the water now and was slumping a bit to the side. Her voice was barely a whisper. “Hold me.” She tried to reach out to hug him but could barely lift her arms above the water. Blood kept coursing from her wrists.

He leaned close to her. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” He held her until her arms dropped into the water one last time.

Then, instead of reaching for the knife, he stepped out of the water and picked up a towel.

She’d done it. She’d done just what he asked. Yes, he’d had to slice his own wrist, that was true, and he’d had to help her, but she had agreed. She had listened. She’d been obedient to the very end.