By Shauntee’ K. Jackson
Some people said she had been too nice. Some said she had been too passive. Everyone who was someone had an opinion on how she had handled the last 10 years of her marriage. What she knew for sure was she was tired. She was tired of fighting and tired of pretending everything was fine. When she saw her husband, no longer did she see the man she fell in love with who had the power to make her heart race with only a glance. In his place, she saw a pitiful creature that had lost the will to think for himself; leaving every decision concerning their marriage to her. Instead of making her heart flutter with passion, the mere sight of him made her gag in revulsion. Every day she had prayed and asked God to remove her husband from her life, and yet he remained. The irony of praying for God who is the Ultimate giver of love to take someone out of her life by any means necessary wasn’t completely lost on her.
Any conversation forged by either party on any given day, would more than likely turn into a screaming and shouting match, so they had found common ground by no longer speaking to one another. When she thought back to the first time she had met her husband, she remembered the promise she saw in him. She remembered his determination to fight his way to the top and provide the lifestyle they had always dreamed of. In the beginning, they had spent endless summer nights under the start watching the lightning bugs and talking about the two and a half story home they’d have built from the ground up. To fill that home, they both agreed they would need to start trying to have a family right away. They wanted at least four children to fill the halls with the sounds of laughter and sneaker soles pounding across the hardwood floors. Nowadays, he had become complacent as a fry cook while she had fought tooth and nail to continue in her dreams to graduate from college earning her Master’s degree in Journalism.
While she angrily packed the last of her things into her suitcase, she caught a glimpse of her soon-to-be ex-next door neighbors and sighed inwardly. The happy couple was always hugging and kissing outside as they either watched their kids ride their bikes down the sidewalk, or host friend and family get-togethers. They had been married for the same amount of time she and her husband had been married and neither could talk about the other without getting a twinkle in their eye…it was sickening. She had hoped and longed for the day she would feel that kind of love and affection for her own husband but fortunately for her, that day had never come.
As she reached for the handle to her suitcase, she took one last glance around the bedroom and her gaze fell upon the bed she had shared with her husband for the last 10 years. Their bed had not known any real passion since things had gone sour between them so long ago.
While the tears silently fell from her eyes, she realized the tears she cried had nothing to do with heartache or for the love she could not save. The tears she was crying were tears of pure unadulterated joy! Finally, her life could begin and she could start to live the way she had always wanted. From this moment forward, if she didn’t have the things she wanted, it would be because of her.
Her husband had always accused her of emasculating him for wanting to broaden her horizons. She had pleaded with him to allow her to work while he went to school to learn computer programming, but he had flat out refused. At first, she had attributed his reticence at going back to school with his being in his thirties and being a freshman. She had brought home colorful and informative brochures of the university that catered to the untraditional student, hoping he would be motivated by her excitement and her encouragement. If anything, her giddiness with the possibility of him finally going back to school only seemed to piss him off even more. Not only did he throw the brochures into the fireplace and threaten to slap her into the next millennium if she didn’t get out of his face, when she had come home from work the following evening, he and his almost emaciated looking, gnarled finger, ice queen mother were waiting for her.
As much as she hated her husband, she hated his bitter strychnine hearted mother even more. When she saw her husband sitting on the couch with his arms folded looking like an insolent brat with a smirk on his face, if the walls could talk; only they could tell what nasty things had been said about her while she wasn’t there to defend herself.
In a nutshell, her mother-in-law had felt that her son’s place was better served on a job where he could make money to pay bills instead of wasted in a classroom where he wouldn’t make any money. His mother had also made it clear that she would appreciate it if she would support him and quit filling his head with ridiculous ideas because the dreams she had of being high society were hers and hers alone. She went on to state that any woman who didn’t love her son for who he was didn’t deserve him and that a woman’s place in the marriage was to be submissive. After that moment, she hated her husband more than words could verbalize and had stopped at nothing to rid her life of that pathetic wastrel.
Submitting to her husband only until she was able to finish what she started, she had quietly taken a job as a telemarketer selling magazine subscriptions. She had despised the routine mediocrity of that job but it allowed her eight hours of freedom each day so she didn’t have to lay eyes on her husband. She had secretly gotten her revenge by going to school during the day while he was working and earned her degree. She had sacrificed the graduation party her family and friends had wanted to give her because she couldn’t risk her husband discovering her plans before her plan was complete.
It was hard for her not to skip as she walked down the stairs and out of the house that now belonged to her ex-husband. The love struck neighbor had caught sight of her as she was putting her suitcases into her car and was furiously trying to snag her attention but she was beyond ready to get away from that house and all of its memories.
She threw up her hand in greeting and goodbye and sped off down the street and out of the housing complex. As she drove down the road, she felt the weight on her shoulders become lighter and lighter as each mile driven took her further and further away from her past.
Every bad feeling, every worry, and every hurt she had felt over the last 10 years had slowly dissipated the further she got away from the house. She had so many plans! She had already secured a cute two-bedroom cottage that was in walking distance to the college where she had gotten a job as a professor of English Literature.
Driving across the bridge, down the coast, she saw the beach below her heavy with the summer tourists that always riddled the area during the middle of the year. She had not felt this lighthearted and carefree since she’d been a teenager sneaking out with her best friend to see the latest chick flick playing at the movie theatre. She had the overwhelming urge to stop and run down to the shore so she could feel the foam of the ocean tickle her toes and the sunshine kiss her face. Since she was already pressed for time, she decided against it and continued on her journey. Her only regret is that she wouldn’t be there to see the look on her mother-in-law’s face when she discovers what her daughter-in-law had up her sleeve for all these months.
As she rounded the curve she gently tapped her foot on the brake to slow down, but the car began to accelerate instead of slow down. Her heart began to pound furiously as she continued to pump the brakes, but the pedal went all the way down to the floor. In her panic, she tried to stop the car from fishtailing into the oncoming lane as the driver of an SUV coming towards her angrily honked the horn. Out of sheer terror, she jerked the steering wheel to the right and the car became airborne, careening off of the bridge and plunging into the depths below.
* * *
It had been hard for him not to let out a gleeful whoop when he had seen her car fly off the embankment into the water. He had timed the accident perfectly and knew the exact moment her car would crash to the depths below the infamous suicide bridge. He had gone home immediately after witnessing the accident; almost too giddy to drive, and rifled through the fridge in search of something to eat. After sniffing the contents of one of the many lidded containers in the icebox, he grunted in approval when he came across his wife’s secret recipe beef stew. Considering it was the only thing she could cook without burning, she had always taken pride in her stew.
After placing two heaping spoonful’s into a bowl and popping it into the microwave, he sat on the couch and practiced his grief stricken reaction for when the authorities showed up to deliver the news of his wife’s death. He wanted to try and make himself cry but he figured he better save his tears for when the police came. When the microwave dinged, he trudged over to retrieve his bowl and dug into his lunch with vigor.
Finishing up the hearty stew, he popped open one of the bottles of beer he had picked up on his way home. Taking a long swig, he recalled how his wife had not liked the smell of alcohol. She hadn’t liked much about him the last few years. He couldn’t say he even remembered the last time she had spoken to him, not out of necessity, but because she had wanted to. He had hated her about as much as she had hated him.
Oh, he knew she found him repulsive and vulgar; just as he found her prude and condescending. He had caught her a few times, when she didn’t think he noticed, looking at him as though she had smelled something foul. He had tried to offer her a little sexual pleasure over the last few months, but she had lied and claimed she was having her time of the month. He had fixed her though. One night, while she lay sleeping, he had pinned her hands up above her head and had taken what was rightfully his.
Oh, how she screamed and begged! It turned him on that his straitlaced little wife had been such a hellcat during his savage possession of her body. It wasn’t even a week after the incident that he had discovered she was filing for a divorce from him. That was when all of his planning had begun. His sweet repressed wife hadn’t known he’d majored in physics in college before dropping out and had a natural ability when it came to mechanics. His extensive automotive knowledge made timing his wife’s unfortunate accident a piece of cake. The planning had taken months, but the painstaking lengths he had gone through to make sure everything went off without a hitch had been worth the effort. There was no way she was going to make a laughingstock out of him and having people thinking he didn’t know how to please a woman.
“Let her rot,” he thought.
Besides, there was a young lady down where he worked who had been dying to get in his pants since he’d been assigned to train her on her first day of work. When the heat wore off after his wife’s death, he was gonna give that young lady at his job the ride of her life.
Quietly sipping his beer, he began to feel a burning sensation spreading slowly across his chest. In his excitement, he realized he had probably wolfed down the stew a tad too quickly and was experiencing a little heartburn. As he stood to go in search of the acid relievers, the room spun and he began to vomit violently.
He suddenly collapsed to his knees and sweat began to pour endlessly down his red swollen face. He tried to stand and make his way to the telephone but only stumbled and fell again. He crawled to the phone, dragging himself across the floor, leaving a trail of urine and vomit behind him. Reaching for the receiver, he saw the wire had had been disconnected from the wall.
He tried to stand and reconnect the device but his efforts were futile as the cord had also been severed. Besides, the more he stood, the more he retched. It was in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, he knew he had been poisoned by his darling wife.
In a final attempt to save his sorry skin, he managed to dig his cell phone out of his pocket and dial 911.
As the operator answered and asked, “What’s your emergency?” he fell to the floor and thought he saw his wife standing over him pointing and laughing that haughty laugh he hated so much. Reaching his hand out towards her, he heard the slowing of his own heartbeat ringing in his ears. As he lay there in a pool of his urine, choking on his vomit and saliva, his final thought was that his wife was the one who had gotten the last laugh after all.
Shauntee’ is an American fiction writer currently residing in Fort Worth, Texas. She is currently working on her second novel and a romantic short story that is the introduction to her first series. Her hobbies include listening to all genres of music, reading suspense and historical romance novels, and writing poetry.
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