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Women Who Stay, 3

The Dance

By Suze KayPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
17
Image made with Midjourney, author's prompt

Chapter 1 Chapter 2

________

Janie ate her omelet in small bites. She patted her mouth with a napkin after each sip of coffee and reapplied her lipstick regularly. If this was a performance, it was practiced. I could tell she wanted me to dive in, to start demanding answers from her, but I resisted the urge to break the silence that settled once our food arrived. She'd made me wait. She could do the same.

"Do you know why I didn't want to talk to you before?" She placed her fork and knife on her plate. I quickly swallowed my mouthful of pancake. Somehow, she still had me off balance.

"I assumed you wanted money."

She rolled her eyes. "That was just to see if I could get something out of you. No, I was actually disheartened by the title of your project."

"How so?"

"Well, you named it Women Who Stay. I did not stay. I was in the process of divorcing Antonio at the time of his death."

"But you stayed for 25 years before that."

She swished her hand as if this were a mere detail. "Nearly 25 years. And besides, I didn't know anything of his... proclivities until after his passing."

I sipped my coffee. I couldn't get a good read on her. From police reports and her bumbling entrance, I'd gotten an impression of a ditzy housewife. But in person, her ramrod-straight posture, her disciplined diction, and the shrewd gaze with which she leveled me all painted a very different picture. She was smart. She was in control, always. She was much more interesting than I'd initially believed. If I wanted this story, I'd have to dance carefully.

"Why me?"

"I found your articles intriguing. It was clear to me that you understand the dynamic of marriage quite well. The balance of power, as it were. Have you been married?"

"No. Does that surprise you?"

"Yes. I assumed you were, or had been, reading your work. You picked up on so many of the idiosyncrasies of being married to a stranger." She lifted her upper lip in the tender beginning of a sneer. "Life partner?"

I hid my bristle, understanding her insinuation and resenting her prejudice. "No. I'm an odd duck. Prefer my own company. Do you feel Antonio was a stranger? Even after all those years?"

"We're all strangers, in the end. I thought you understood that. It seemed to be the point of all those insipid women's stories." She lifted her hands and splayed them theatrically. "Oo, he hurt me. He was a mean man all along, and he hid it so well. How was I to know? But you, your questions were canny. I could tell you wanted to see behind the curtain of lies they told themselves to sleep at night. Do you still want that?"

I shrugged noncommittally, thinking back over what I'd written years before. Had I revealed that much of myself, my motivations, in my words? "I suppose so. I was disappointed by the series. I felt a larger truth escaped me."

Her eyes gleamed. "And what do you think that truth was?"

"That each of the women got something out of their arrangements, be it love or money."

"I think you covered that piece of it well enough."

"And that each of them sacrificed a piece of their conscience to do so."

Janie's mouth twisted. "Come now, Miranda, be brave. You won't offend me."

"The stain of their choices left them unable to tell the truth as I needed it."

She smiled. "If you can wait until I die to publish, I'll give it to you."

________

Read on to Chapter 4

True CrimeFiction
17

About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

Or, let me catch you at www.suzekay.com

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (11)

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  • Poppy 7 days ago

    I forgot just how captivating and addictive your writing is. Omg.

  • Belle2 months ago

    Incredible last line.

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    She's got her and us on the hook.

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Janie seems to be a mastermind.

  • Kenny Penn2 months ago

    Ok, Suze, I’m so into this story. Please keep it going!

  • Intriguing! I am enjoying this. Waiting for the next one, please.

  • And now we're all dying to hear. Pray, do tell!

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Enviably well written! I'm definely enjoying this series.

  • Natasha Collazo2 months ago

    Really well written. I can see this being an actual best seller 👏

  • Daphsam2 months ago

    Great exchange. Well written!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    This exchange feels completely real. Your build of story is compelling. The development of both the narrator and protagonist make them feel like real people. And you make it all look so easy!

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