November 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
She watched her husband’s blood pooling on the floor as disinterestedly as she might watch coffee swirl in a cup; her eyes were glazed over, her breathing calm and rhythmic. It started to drip into the grouting between the kitchen tiles, and a bright red latticework began to form from the organic puddle beneath his head. The mortal wound glistened wetly, punctuated by chips of his fractured skull floating in a thick red soup. His eyes were glazed over too; his in death. One of his cheeks had split open and was caved in grotesquely – her first swing had only glanced his face. She had never come face-to-face with death before.
For a moment she did not stir. The rolling pin she’d used to end her husband’s life was still clutched loosely in her right hand, blood-stained and dripping, forming its own puddle at her feet. The brilliant white finish of their kitchen, completed in a whirlwind of sawdust and power tools only last month, now resembled the killing floor of an abattoir. Last night’s dinner plates lay smashed in a dozen pieces by the sink, the first victims of the short struggle that culminated in his murder. Cooking books were strewn across the counter, pages folded over and torn, which they had careened into amidst the struggle. Early morning summer sun streamed through the slats of the window blinds, and beyond, she made out the mountain reaching like a pointed finger towards the sky beyond a lush green carpet of trees. But for the corpse on the floor, the scene would have been an oasis of calm; an idyllic Iberian paradise.
All was deathly silent, save for the coffee machine gurgling away on the kitchen counter. Her husband had flipped the switch to start it only minutes before, the first step of his daily breakfast ritual, not for a moment realising that he would never drink his morning coffee, or anything else, ever again. He had hardly seen her coming. She could have ended it in one stroke, but he had looked up at the last moment. She doubted whether she would ever forget the image of his eyes so wide in terror as she brought the makeshift weapon crashing down onto his skull, felt bone splinter and break upon impact. She brought her hand up to her stinging forehead and brought her fingers away wet with her own blood. Her husband had clawed at her ferociously, his nails inflicting several gashes above her eyebrow, before she had felled him.
Finally, she stirred herself to action. She stepped over her husband’s lifeless body and crossed the room to the deep granite sink, the kitchen tiles surprisingly cold on her bare feet for this time of year. Her dressing gown billowed open as she walked, the belt torn loose during their frenzied tussle. She eased the rolling pin into the sink and tightened it around her waist before turning to the task at hand. Slowly, she spun the rolling pin under a stream of hot water, the blood swirling around the basin before sliding down the plug hole. Amelia would be home from her friend’s house within an hour, she realised, with a glance at the clock ticking silently on the wall above the fridge. She couldn’t allow her daughter to come home to this scene. Amelia loved her father dearly, even if she herself couldn’t say the same. I don’t feel regret, she noticed with curiosity. Had it really come as far as this? That she could kill her own husband and not feel an ounce of remorse?
She put the rolling pin on the draining board and picked up her mobile phone from the kitchen island. She flipped it open with a practised flick. As she punched in three digits and put the phone to her ear, she stooped over her husband. She reached into the pocket of his linen trousers and pulled out a battered leather wallet. He’d had it for years; she had bought it for him on their sixth anniversary. Inside, she had left the photo of the CAT scan that brought Amelia into their lives only weeks before. There had been tears glistening in his eyes as he discovered it hidden inside the wallet. He hadn’t said a word, but had leaned over and kissed her tenderly. Amelia had changed everything. For good and ill. But her husband had changed everything again. And now she had changed everything forever.
The dialling tone sounded once in her ear, then crackled as it connected. A female operator was at the end of the line, her tone curt and dispassionate.
“What’s your emergency please?”
She stepped out onto the veranda and was instantly struck by how beautiful the day was. The sun was beating down fiercely, her flowers opened in full bloom to drink it in. The wall was warm like a hotplate as she she sat down on it.
“Hello? What’s your emergency please?” asked the operator, for a second time.
She remained silent as she opened up the wallet, clutching her phone between her chin and shoulder to free up her other hand. Her husband’s bank cards were filed neatly at the front, useless now. She prised open the final pocket at the back, where she had hidden the CAT scan so many years ago. It wasn’t there, of course. She imagined he had removed it many years ago. Instead, she found a passport photo of a man and a woman, the woman kissing the man on the cheek. Both were smiling from ear-to-ear. The man was her late husband, happier than she had ever seen him, happier than he had any right to be. The woman wasn’t her. She turned the photo over and saw the words ‘Love you’ written in blue biro.
“I’ve killed my husband,” she said into the mouthpiece. For a moment, there was a deep silence, and she heard her heart thud in her chest. Then her life changed forever.
Image is for illustration purposes only. Photo credit: Amy Massey.
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