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The Ministry of Mistakes

You can eat your cake and have it.

By Eseoghene OnovughePublished 3 months ago 4 min read

"Good afternoon, state your mistake, please."
I heard nothing. I pulled the bridge of my glasses down so I could see the woman sitting in front of me properly.
She was young, 22, 23, or even less. These girls marry younger and younger now. One time, a girl came in here, she was 16, she wanted to cancel her mistake of marrying a 73 year old billionaire.

"Ahem, well—" the woman cleared her throat.
"I'm listening."
"Well, I don't want my husband anymore."
I picked a pen and opened the Ledger of Mistakes. I flipped the pages and stopped on a page with the date, November 3, 2080, serial number 23411380.
"Your mistake?"
"Marrying the wrong man," the woman said.
"And how would you like it corrected?" I asked, scribbling.
"I want an abolition."
I looked at the woman. She wasn't exactly attractive, something between likable and near-infuriatingly plain. She wore a purple turban, black hair, jeweled ears and neck. Her eyes were small, like quarters.
"Reason for an abolition?"
She looked at me long and then leaned over my cluttered desk. She whispered, "I'm in love with his brother."
"His brother—" she whispered again. "I'm pregnant."
She looked at her belly, caressing and smiling at it. I got a glimpse of what looked like a four month old pregnancy poking through her purple satin dress.
I dropped my pen, leaned back and sighed. This scene wasn't unusual. It was merely exhausting.

I asked, "And where is your husband now?"
"He's dead."
"His brother—" she said, still whispering.
I shrugged. “Yeah?”
“He did it.”
“He killed your husband?”
She nodded. I asked if the police knew this and she nodded. I had been holding my breath so I let it out in little spurts.
“Yes. So now, I want out of my first marriage so I can marry him.”
“It's pretty much clear what you want, ma'am,” I said, “But giving the circumstances, I'd need authorization from the police.”
“I thought you might say that. Donald said you might say this.”
“Donald is your husband's—”
“Yeah, my husband's brother.” She opened a small handbag and ruffled inside it. She removed a business card and held it out. “Here. You can call him.”
“No, ma'am. Donald—your husband's brother isn't—”
I took the card but continued, “Look, ma'am, if what you just told me is true, this Donald should be in jail for murder. I don't need to call him. But the cops should.”
“He's a cop.”
“A detective.”
The card was white, embossed. The name was written in black ink: Donald Giles, Detective at the top. Then an address for the police precinct in Third Street, Queens was printed on the right. I was familiar with that precinct. I knew a few of the cops there but not this Donald Giles. I turned the card around on its vacant side. There was a phone number and an email. I looked across the desk at the woman. She brushed her blonde permed hair from her square face and smiled at me again. Something about her gray eyes told me I would be dumb to underestimate her.
“Did you ask Donald to kill your husband?”
She grimaced. “No!”
“How dare you!”
Her lips shook, her face clouded and she gave me a nasty, reproachful look.
“I'm sorry. I assumed since you were ready to marry Donald you might have asked him to help out.”
“No, I didn't. They had a fight but it had nothing to do with me.”
“What was it about?”
She said, “I can't tell you.”
“It's none of my business, really. But your husband is dead. You said his brother killed him. Now the case is complicated. Do you understand?”
“Ronald was a fool.”
“He should have listened to me…” she said and looked away. Her lips trembled and I thought she might begin to cry any moment. But when she looked at me again I saw her eyes were as vacant as the walls of my small office. “You see, my husband, he was stubborn. He was ruthless too. He did bad things—”
“What kind of bad things?”
“I can't tell you.”
“Go on.”
She gave me a wary look. “Go on? He's dead. What does it matter? I need the abolition to get me off obligation. Can I at least get that?”
I started saying something but she cut me off.
“I know the law. It says if your husband dies, you don't have to wait the statutory one year before getting married again. Ronald is dead—”
“How long?”
“Two days.”
“Yes. Two days. I can't wait to get out there and live my life. It was hell being married to that fool.”
“The law says the ministry must have a report from the coroner. We don't have that yet because you've just told me your husband died. I suspect the cops don't know this. Is your husband stuffed somewhere in your basement?” I asked.
Her face colored. “How dare you!”
“I’m not the one with the dead husband.”
“You know what—” she picked herself out of the chair, eyes blazing at me. “I'm going upstairs. I bet there's someone up there willing to do their job!”
“Suit yourself, ma'am.”
She slammed the door on her way out

Short StorythrillerMysteryFantasy

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