Consequences of Deviation
A Short Story About an Unsettling Man and His Lovely Wife
Colbert Wells had done nothing particularly exciting in his 38 revolutions around the sun. After 38 years he had found no passion, no love and a job in a gray office to match his gray life. He had few interests and exceedingly odd ones at that. He enjoyed the absence of others. He enjoyed organizing and reorganizing his shelves. He enjoyed blank canvases and empty containers. The only thing that really ignited the fire surrounding his heart were his trips to the grocery. He felt, what he may describe, as an incredible thrill, walking down the aisles. Observing the pristine organization of the shelves, the hum of the fridges. The harsh lights that shone almost white bounced off the tile floors in a way that made his heart skip a beat. He craved these strolls through the aisles, sometimes only looking at the stock. The fridges filled with fish sticks, frozen pizzas and whatever else. Usually, he didn’t even buy anything. He just browsed, often for hours. He went absurdly early. When the floors had been freshly cleaned and bounced light off of them even more effectively. Before the hordes of people poured into the store, mussing about with the organized shelves, pushing and moving the items, their kids wailing on the floors or drooling in the carriages. These things made him suppress bile that rose in the back of his throat. These people ruined his favorite place.
He tried to style his home in the same obnoxiously clean manner. Even going as far as purchasing a fridge with a clear door and buying duplicates of the same items even if he didn’t plan to actually consume them. He meticulously organized his kitchen and his book shelves in the same way. For many long years this was his home.
As unexciting as Colbert Wells was in every other way, he did choose to eventually wed. The girl was average and plain much like Colbert Wells himself, but not in the same way. He met her at the office, she was an accountant. They shared an interest for order. He courted her with a particularly boring dinner date. She did most of the chatting—in fact, she did all of the chatting. Colbert didn’t mind this as he was able to sink into his own thoughts and nodded at her questions, despite if that was a true or even appropriate answer to her inquiries.
Then another date followed, and another and a few more after that. He wasn’t fond of her but he didn’t loathe her either. They were married after a year and lived together for two more after that.
Colbert Wells certainly didn’t love Penny, his wife. In fact, after two years he did loathe her. He hated her dirty clothes strewn on the floor and the dishes she left in the sink. He despised her for once saying she was organized. He especially hated the apple red hairs he found in the shower but most of all he hated the that she took things off the shelves.
It was gradual. Some of her furniture replaced his, then most of it was hers. A woman's touch, she had insisted. She hung colorful photos and vibrant little trinkets. She had a knack for finding every rooster-themed item at every generic department store. Suddenly, the dish towels and the throw pillows and even the welcome mat were all rooster-themed. He felt these things slowly adding to the boil inside of him which stewed day after day and grew hotter and hotter with each new item.
At the end of their street was a communal garden for the block. All of the wives on the block, including Penny, spent time there. Colbert wished she spent more. He was never there, especially when she was. Gardening wasn’t one of his few interests. He didn’t like the dirt between in the creases on his hands or under his nails. The way it crumpled through his fingers to the ground, not staying in any pattern. Except on this day he found a love for gardening. He felt his shoulders sag with relief despite the dirt and sweat that stained his shirt, his sleeves, his lapel. He rejoiced in the dirt over the tomatoes and cabbages he had torn up. He felt proud of the shallow grave he had dug.
Colbert Wells didn’t do anything particularly exciting after 41 revolutions around the sun, aside from killing his wife.