You have no items in your cart. Want to get some nice things?Go shopping
It was difficult for Myra to chop vegetables without the knife she’d driven into her husband’s back. Carrots, potatoes, onions, all ready on the worktop, but her good knife was firmly lodged between George’s ribs. He had slumped forward onto the table, his forehead pressing down on the glossy brochure he’d been reading to her. Underneath the brochure, the spattered newspaper lay open, the crossword half completed in blunt pencil.
“You were never going to solve that one, George,” she said.
Anyone would think she was mad, standing with a casserole dish in her hand, talking to a dead person, as if everything was A-okay. But Myra was certainly not mad. And she was well aware, thank you very much, that things were far from A-okay.
First of all there was the problem of the stew. The chops were on the counter, trussed up in a plastic bag, blood seeping from its twisted mouth. She could put one in the stew and the other in the fridge. But how soon would she be taken away? Best put both in the stew. That way she’d have enough for tomorrow, and if she had to leave, she could pop the leftovers in the freezer.
She should be getting on with dinner but it seemed heartless to slice vegetables with George in such a state. And besides, she needed her good knife. She put the casserole dish down and gave herself a little shake. “Now Myra my girl, best thing for you is a strong cup of tea.”
The brown teapot with its knobbly old cozy cheered her up right away, and the gush of the kettle drowned out the flies. She sat by the open door. Not much wrong with the world when you’re sitting in your kitchen, hugging a mug of tea, she decided. Outside, pansies and petunias nodded agreement, colored heads bobbing in the breeze.
A sudden scurry of wind harried dust and leaves against her feet. The sky greyed, as though an invisible hand had shaded it lightly with pencil. Myra shivered. Memories loomed like clouds. George insisting on dinner at one. George and his cold baths. George defending that bitch in the supermarket. Myra had been in the right, that day at the supermarket, although George wouldn’t admit it. Anyway the woman’s injuries were hardly life-threatening. Not like George’s.
Poor George. He’d been a good husband, even if lately he’d become bossy. Confiscating her car keys. Telling tales to Maureen. Husband and daughter ganging up on her, siding with Doctor Brown.
Myra sipped her tea. Flies were crawling on the bag of meat on the worktop, feasting on bloody creases in the plastic. One landed on George’s scalp, explored his oily pores, rubbing its forelegs together as though plotting some further violation.
“Go away,” she cried. “Shoo!” She looked for a newspaper to swat it with, then remembered George was face-down on the crossword.
Four Down was clearly wrong. That was the thing with George; if a word didn’t fit, he’d make it fit: chopping off a silent letter, or slicing through a double consonant. He’d begun to treat Myra like another rebel word, fighting the tyranny of black and white squares. Thought he could shave a bit here, prune a bit there. Force her into that shiny box, all glass and concrete, on the cover of the brochure. She’d have to go somewhere now of course, after this business was sorted, but at least she’d made her point. Gently, Myra eased the newspaper out from under George’s forehead, and crumpled his final quavering capitals into the bin.
Barbara Leahy is from Cork city in Ireland. She started writing in 2010, and since then her stories have appeared in various anthologies and journals, been broadcast on national radio, and won several prizes. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in both the short story and flash fiction categories. One of her flash fictions will appear in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine in April 2015. This is her first publication with Litro.