THESE ARE ALL MY OWN ORIGINAL WORK, SO DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT STEALING THESE.
The only sound in the house is the sound of that ugly clock that he bought two years ago for Christmas. That and my own breathing, which has noticeably become more and more heavy and angst ridden as the minute hand moves lazily around that mahogany face.
My fingers begin to tap in time to the clock and I close my eyes, pretending he’s already home and that I’m not waiting up for him to “come home late from work.”
Always the same damn story. “You wouldn’t believe how bad the traffic was, honey.” “I tried to leave early, but you know how the boss is. Made me stay an extra hour late.” I huffed air out of my chest and shook my head, laughing at my thoughts that I knew would soon be his words.
Only this time I wouldn’t kindly accept them as I always have. No no, tonight I knew what I was going to say if he was home late- no- when he was home late again.
Keys clink and chime and then the sound of him pushing his key into the lock and twisting it and jimmying it and pulling it back out and-
“Oh, baby, I’m sorry I’m-“ he starts.
“Yeah, I’m sure you are.”
He stops hanging his coat on the rack, “I’m sorry, honey, what did you say?”
I raise an eyebrow at his back as my fingers grip the handle of my suitcase, “I said sweetheart, ‘I’m sure you are.’ I’m also sure that Brittney got ahold of our house phone number and called this morning wondering if you had her jacket from last night.”
He slowly turned around, face barely composed and in a state of vague of confusion, “Brittney? Brittney who?”
“Oh it’s okay if you don’t remember her name, she said it was only a one time thing. She’s a real sweet girl y’know if you talk to her for a little while. You really should send her the money she earned doing a job that I was doing for free.”
“Wh-what are you saying? I don’t know a Brittney!”
“Oh yeah?” I stood up, holding my suitcase in my hand, “That’s funny, cuz Brittney gave me the numbers of some of her friends that you probably don’t remember either. I talked to all of them too and made sure you paid them what they deserved and a little bit extra. Gary says ‘hi pookie’ by the way, and he says he misses you. Cute little pet name you got going there.”
“Baby, I don’t know what you’re talking about-“
“Save your breathe, ‘baby,’” I spit back at him, “I knew there was something wrong with us, but I didn’t know how bad it was and how big of an asshole you actually are. So uh fuck you and I hope you have a shitty life. I’m not gonna be a part of it any longer.”
As I stride outside of the front door of our shitty apartment with my bag, I walk down the hall and high five Ashton Kutcher as I hear crying and screaming coming from inside.
LAST FRIDAY NIGHT
It was just a normal Friday night for any babysitter. As the time grew closer to seven, Amanda filled up her purse with her teen magazines and phone chargers and books getting ready to make her weekly trek across the street to the White’s house.
Amanda had been babysitting the White’s baby on Friday nights for almost a year and a half now. Little Dylan was only two and she adored the child so long as he wasn’t being too big of a brat.
She left her house at three minutes to seven and was still a minute early.
Mr. White opened the door as usual and welcomed her in as he finished tying his tie. She headed straight for little Dylan’s room where she found him sitting on the floor, his toy trucks circling him and his little laugh bubbling out of his mouth.
“Hi, sweetie!” Amanda greeted the child as she kissed the top of his head and sat down and started playing with one of the toy trucks.
“Is that Amanda?” Mrs. White’s voice rang from the room next to Dylan’s.
“Yeah hi! Your husband let me in!” Amanda shouted back, not looking up from the trucks and Dylan.
Mrs. White walked in to the room, smiling, as she put in her earrings, “Well, you know the drill! Dinner is in the fridge, help yourself to anything you want, and he needs to be in his pajamas with his teeth brushed by eight thirty. We should be home by around ten, give or take. Sound good?”
Amanda nodded, “Yes ma’am! You two crazy kids have fun!”
Mrs. White laughed, kissed Dylan on the cheek, and smiled at Amanda before she left the room. Mr. White darted in quickly after her to say goodbye to the little one then ran back out so they wouldn’t be late.
“Okay, Mr. Dylan, let’s get you some dinner!” Amanda went to pick up the kid from off of the ground.
“No!” he screamed, thrashing about.
Amanda withdrew her hands, “Fine, if you’re going to be like that. You can get yourself.”
Dylan stared at her with intense, hateful eyes. Far too hateful for a two year old. She drew back, and trying not to let him get to her and she said, “Come on, sweetheart, you need dinner.”
He slowly stood up from his spot in the middle of the trucks.
He followed behind Amanda as she led the way to the kitchen.
“Can I pick you up to put you in your chair?” she asked diplomatically. The two year old nodded and let her pick him up and put him in his high chair. She turned the chair so he could face the kitchen while she heated up their dinner.
Amanda turned her back to get the food out of the fridge, and when she turned around to put the macaroni and cheese on a plate, Dylan’s chair had been moved closer to her by two feet and he was looking out of the window with a blank gaze.
“Dylan, did you move your chair? Come on!” she pushed it back closer to the table and then went back to fixing dinner.
Dylan started making noise, but she couldn’t understand what he was saying, “What was that, buddy?”
He started laughing.
Amanda turned back around and this time Dylan was staring blankly at a wall with a smile on his face. The light of his smile never reached his eyes, “Dylan, what are you laughing at? What’s funny?”
His head slowly turned back to her and his smile faded. Grimly he replied, “Nothing.”
Amanda rolled her eyes, trying to shake off his attitude, “You’re a silly, little boy aren’t you?”
The macaroni was done reheating so she brought it over to his high chair so he could start eating. She handed him a spoon, which he held limply.
“Go on, eat up. I know how much you love mac n cheese!” she smiled. She sat down in the chair opposite him and whipped out her phone.
Dylan slowly started to pick up the noodles and put them in his mouth while Amanda scrolled through her various social networking sites.
Several minutes passed and Amanda looked up from her phone to find the remainder of Dylan’s macaroni in a perfect circle on his plate and him staring at the wall again – no smile on his face this time.
“What’s the matter, Mr. Dylan?” she asked reaching across the table to touch his little arm.
He recoiled at her touch and shifted his gaze to look at something behind her. The hair stood up on the back of her neck and the feeling that something- no- someone was breathing down her neck.
“What’s wrong, Dylan?” she looked slowly behind her and saw nothing. When she looked back, he was staring at her and smiling creepily again, but it didn’t feel like Dylan’s smile.
“Would you stop that, sweetheart? It’s kind of creepy!”
He laughed again, but this time the laugh touched his eyes and it was like he was the annoying baby Dylan again, not the creepy toddler from beyond.
Amanda stood up and unbuckled him from his chair and let him run back to his room, where she found him already sitting back down in the middle of his toy trucks.
“Why do you have them in a circle, Dylan?”
He looked up innocently at her and didn’t answer her question.
That same empty smile crept onto his face again as he lifted a single finger and pointed behind her.
The trucks began to move back and forth in their positions in the circle and Dylan just kept pointing and smiling.
Amanda slowly turned around and suddenly wished she hadn’t.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
“I don’t know why ya got me locked up in here, bub. I did nothing wrong.”
“Well, Mrs. Lakowski-“
“Call me, Nikki.”
“Well, Nikki,” the court appointed lawyer shuffled the papers about in front of him, “I um, can’t say I agree with you. You killed your husband, Nikki. Please tell me how that is ‘nothing wrong’.”
“Oh, Mr. Johnson,” she laughed, the cuffs around her wrist clacking together as she wove her hand to dismiss his comment, “Can I call ya Steve?”
“Well, Steve, ya just aren’t seeing the full picture! Yasee, what I did wasn’t killing nobody. I’d prefer to call it, my one, vigilante act for my life, I swear on my mama’s life, Steve. I wasn’t taking someone great from this world. Why would I do that? No no, I was taking matters into my own hands.”
“A vigilante act, Nikki? The law isn’t something that can just be played with, even if you promise to never break it again. But you do admit you killed your husband, Mickey Lakowski, Nikki? That’s a very serious statement.”
“Of course I admit to it. Steve dawlin’, why wouldn’t I admit to something like that? I ain’t stupid. Mickey was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My only regret was not killing the bastard sooner.”
“Mrs. Lakow- I mean,” he cleared his throat and adjusted his tie, “Nikki, do you want to go a bit more in depth about how exactly your husband was ‘the worst thing that ever happened to’ you? It could help your case and get you a shorter sentence.”
“Ya want the lie or the truth, love? I’ve got the lie pretty well memorized,” she chuckled half-heartedly at her own joke.
“Preferably the truth, Nikki. That’s what the judge will want to hear.”
“Figures. Well, Stevie, to tell ya the truth my marriage had been absolute shit for years. Which is saying something cuz we’d only been married for about ten. He hated Junior and baby Anna. Heaven forbid Anna made a single noise at night. He’d wake up like he was waitin for it, Stevie, then he’d just yell at her like them drill sergeants do on ‘Two Weeks in Hell’. He did the same thing with Junior, but I guess Anna doesn’t learn as fast as Junior did cuz Junior stopped cryin’ after a few months of being home from the hospital.
“But I kept goin with it, Stevie! After all Mickey was my husband! I had to love him. He knew better than me, right?” She paused waiting for an answer from the lawyer, who said nothing. “So one night, I was cookin dinner. Mickey was still at work. Junior was watching the TV and Anna was in her high chair, playin round with her Cheerios.
“The baked ziti is in the oven, Junior and Anna are both occupied, so I think to myself, ‘Oh what the hell? I’m going to read my goddamn magazine!’ So I go and sit down in the dinin room. All innocent right, Stevie? Well, bang! Mickey throws open the front door and comes storming in, yelling bout some awful assistant he got at work. Y’know he was the manager of Lakowski and Sons Construction? The biggest construction company in all of Newark, it was. Anyway, guess he had some shitty day at his shitty job where he does shitty work for his shitty salary. Then he finds me readin’ my magazine. Knowin’ Mickey, I set it down and get up to give him a lil sugar. But no no no! He starts bitchin’ bout how he smells something burnin’. Now I get up and smell the same thing so I go to check on the ziti and guess what, Steve? It’s a lil burnt. Oh no, whoopdy fucking doo.
“But knowin my ‘lovin’ husband,” her fingers made air quotes as she spoke, “I apologize real quick. But is that good enough for Mickey? No. So he hits me. A great right hook to my eye.
“I’m losing it now. Mickey has hit me before, but it wasn’t over fuckin’ ziti! So we’re yellin’ at each other and lil’ Anna is cryin’ and Junior’s locked himself in his room cuz he’s seen this same shit before. Mickey’s goin’ crazy, callin’ me names, and throwin’ shit. Now this stuff was normal when he gets mad. Lord knows how many damn IKEA lamps we’ve broken. But Anna is cryin’ in her chair and Mickey turns around and smacks my baby girl across her face.”
She stopped. Looking at her lawyer, whose face had turned white as a sheet.
“Nobody hits my baby when she ain’t even doing nothin’ wrong. I mean- ha- Anna has been cryin’ since day one, but Mickey never hit her until now.
“Over some burnt baked ziti.
“So I hit him. I finally did it, Stevie. I hit Mickey so hard my knuckles hurt. And, damn, did it feel good to finally do that. I was giving him what he’d been giving me for years,” she cracked her still bruised knuckles.
“And I just kept goin’. I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, he was on the kitchen tiles, nose bleedin’, eyes barely open. Stevie, I didn’t even know I was that strong! Now I’m standin’ over him and I’m yellin’ about how much I hate him and I’m thinkin’ he’s knocked out and so I just say that I want a divorce. I felt like it needed to be said y’know? But I didn’t really feel like I meant it.
“But that sure woke him up quick.
“He smacks my knee and I fall down. Goddamn that hurt, Stevie. He knew I have bad knees. But now we’re on each other’s level . Me on my knees and him trying to stand up. So I just push him! Push him hard away from me. I just want away from him. And you know what he does?” she stared into the lawyer’s eyes, daring him to answer. “He falls over and cracks his head on the corner of the oven.
“I wish he didn’t die like that.”
“I wish I could have killed him better.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t tell the judge that, Nikki.”