Soon to be published in 'Sensory Perceptions Anthology' by Jay Henge Publishing
On her left, sun-coaxed daisies waved at the sun, while on his right, snow spatter clung to ice blasted trees. The portrait served its purpose well, a beacon of cheer in an otherwise uninspiring home. Alone on the wall, the duo sat cradled by a handsome frame, the couple's beautiful, glowing faces forever frozen. She found their loving expressions encouraging.
Birthed from a crude paper bag on her wedding day, the painting had been a gift.
"You an' Al are gon' make it," her mother's hand waved drunkenly over the picture, "through sunny and stormy weather. Mazel tov, congratulations, an' all that…"
She smiled, charming as she would ever be in a plain silk frock. The stench of gin on the old woman's breath was strong, but her words proved most potent.
She learned to fill her empty days by collecting small dolls. Comfort was found in the gentle curl of a lock of hair, the angelic dimples on a stiff porcelain hand. Perched in every corner of the home, they watched her as she seamed miniature pastel dresses and smart suits.
Her nimble fingers guided the needle with care, pouring into each stitch the affection her heart yearned to offer him. She could hear their sweet voices from her splintered chair, whispered sentiments from child to mother. They fed her lies, told her she was beautiful; the same fabrications she required from him. He grew distant, the hum of a cheerful "evening, dear" and the press of his lips upon her aged cheek a stale remembrance.
A large dent in the sheets greeted her in his place each morning. The funk of burnt eggs always accompanied her loneliness.
Don't wait up.
The scratched lettering spelled the same perpetual message, set beneath a cup of lukewarm coffee or a half-eaten bowl of oatmeal. The night she did, the strange woman's hair shone through the dusk like flaxen wheat. From the dingy glass, she had spied them unnoticed, a rush of passionate heat searing her pale cheeks.
In shadow, they hid together, careful of the street lamps beam. The woman's lips were painted, her sophisticated dress hugging the elegant, youthful curves she longed to possess. The woman stole from him a kiss, an embrace that was never hers to take. They smiled at one another, their fingers laced, happiness she herself no longer recalled.
Tension filled the house as the world slept; tautness spawned between strangers with a secret. He neglected her presence and sunk into the mattress, a flowery perfume emitting from the jacket strewn in a heap at their feet. He gave a sleepy goodnight as exhaustion began to take hold, a mere nod to her existence. The steel was cool in her trembling hand.
He knew peace until the last instant. The silvery blade sliced through the velveteen calm, her grey eyes ablaze with a vehement flame. He only stirred when there was no breathe to take in. The blood bubbled as he thrashed and choked for air, entangled in a linen sarcophagus.
She stroked his hair gently and kissed his forehead, the attempt at forming his last words thwarted by a swift death. She simpered to herself and stroked his lifeless cheek, knowing what it was he had meant to say after so long.
"I love you, too, Al."
From this day forward until death do us part…
The words rolled from her mouth, repeated with each affectionate stitch. Her needle pierced the flesh of his heavy lids, his purple lips. With expert precision, the dark thread weaved a constant reminder. His lustful gaze would never fall upon another woman, not once would his tongue form the words meant only for her.
Disheveled, the bedding lied upon the floor as the sun rose, dyed crimson with a traitor's blood. Red and white hues swirled in the wake of her teaspoon. He tasted sweet, honey amidst the steaming tea and cream. A pleasant warmth grew in her stomach as the drink slipped into her insides. The corners of her mouth twitched. He was a part of her again.
How proud they seemed, beaming down from their canvas on the reconciled marriage. He was hers to keep, her new, most precious doll.
She sipped at the tea for a second time.
"This is wonderful, dear, thank you."
The small chair rocked beneath the force of his corpse. His gaping throat grinned at her as if to say, "You're welcome, darling."