A Splash of Red

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(Acknowledgement: A heartfelt thank you to Yellow Mama e-Magazine of horror for publishing this story.)



You decide today isn't the day.


You look next to you, in the bed you two have shared for two years, at a time when shopping together was cute and fun and the world still seemed to have meaning, that's where she is. And somehow, to you, at this time, in the a-little-over-two-years of marriage, she seems too perfect to disturb.


Today, it's too easy to forget that she told you that she had started sleeping with other men to "motivate you" (her honest-to-God words). You had heard her right, hadn't you? She had used the word "men" in the plural, right? Or, perhaps that was just your imagination.


No, today isn't the day, you tell yourself.


With her back turned to you, a perfect Saturday with the light coming through the window, it's just too easy for you to believe that you have a perfectly normal, healthy marriage. There are exactly five pictures in the bedroom you share -- three of the wedding and two from before you were married. One on the dresser. Three on the wall. And one on the night stand.


No, today isn't the day you stab her in the carotid artery. It's certainly not the day you poison her morning tea. Strangling her doesn't seem to be in your character. Back to the carotid artery you go.


She mumbles something. What did she say?


"What was that, sweetheart?"


"We'll talk later, babe. I said some things last night."


Yes, babe, you did, you say in your mind because you're a bit of a coward and hate confrontation. There is no confrontation in a punctured carotid artery.


For a moment, you see everything in red. You imagine a splash of red on the walls, a splash of red on the pillows. A splash of red everywhere would seem to calm the world down just a little.


The minutes go by and suddenly you realize something. Today is just too normal. The way she hugs her pillow and is turned away from you almost reminds you of how you were when you two were first dating. When you notice her nightgown, expensive, paid for with her own salary as recently promoted chief nurse, it reminds you how hard-fought all of your gains together have been. Your struggles to pay down student loans. Your struggle to find the right house in the right neighborhood.


Moving this bed from the dumpy apartment you shared to this new house.


And then last night. "Why have you been avoiding having sex with me lately, honey?"


She told you, "Rob, I've been fucking other men." Other men? Another man? Which was it? Does it matter? A splash of red! Later, "Think of it as motivation. You need this."


Just one more day, you tell yourself. One more day of feeling like this -- of waking up in bed, looking out into the sunlight. Into the right neighborhood with the good elementary school for the baby you'll have together (but now you can't even be sure it'll be yours), and you'll name him John after your father who succumbed too early to COPD because of his damned smoking, and she, that cheating bitch, was there every step of the way.


No, today is not the day, you tell yourself.


Then again, you tell yourself, the whole bedroom would look so much better with just a splash of red.



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