Somewhere Between Here and There


She pauses in her buffing to glance out the window.  The snow is falling heavier now, thicker.  Maybe he’ll let her go early tonight.  Not because he’s concerned about her getting home to her family on Christmas Eve, but because he wants to make sure she gets back to him tomorrow:  If she gets stuck somewhere between here and there, she won’t be able to serve Christmas dinner to his relatives.  And without her serving, how will he impress his family?

She studies her work.  The bathroom faucet gleams.  He won’t find water spots on it tonight.  This time, he won’t find a reason to dock her pay.  Twenty cents for each water spot on stainless steel.  A dollar for a missing button.  Every perceived grievance is fined: too much salt; bread that didn’t rise properly; towels misfolded; bed made up with incorrect sheets; a book placed upon the wrong shelf.  Every mistake costs her dearly: an immunization foregone; her mother’s pills cut in half; an empty space where the Christmas tree ought to be.  Over fifteen years, he has docked her pay by over nine hundred dollars. 


She picks up damp towels from cold bathroom tiles and puts them in the laundry basket which she lugs downstairs to the basement.  She dumps the basket over; un-balls the socks flecked with discarded skin.  She sorts the laundry, darks and lights.  She treats the stains, undoing his mistakes and hoping she doesn’t make one herself.  She shoves the whites into the washing machine and precisely measures the liquid. 

In the kitchen, she mashes his potatoes and checks the roast.  She sorts his mail and opens the package Fed-Ex delivered that afternoon.  She studies the return address – it’s from his most recent ex-wife, the only woman who’d ever been kind to her within the confines of this bitter house.  She opens the package and takes out a small vial, an envelope with her name on it taped to the side. 

She looks behind her.  She tears open the envelope.  She slips out a piece of paper lightly scented with lavender, a fragrance he despises.  She opens the note and begins to read.

I know you still open his mail.
I know he still treats you badly.
I can help you escape, as you once helped me.
Take the vial.  Pour it into his food.  No one will know.
Be free.

She shakes her head.  Crumples up the note and jams it deep in the pocket of her apron.  The vial and the box and the note will go into three different dumpsters on her way home tonight.  She may hate the man, but she is no murderess.

She hears a bell.  Her signal.  She picks up his salad and takes it to the dining room.  Sets it down before him.  “You’ll be staying tonight,” he says.  “You’ll never make it back tomorrow morning.”
But, Sir…”  She keeps her eyes down, as he has taught her. 

“This salad has too much vinegar,” he says in reply, setting down his fork and picking up his newspaper.

“It’s Christmas Eve.” 

“I can ruin you,” he says.  “One word from me and your home, your husband and children…”  He snaps his finger.  “Gone.”

For fifteen years, the judge has held her offense over her head, threatening her with it whenever he finds it convenient.  She drops into a curtsy.  “I’ll make up the guest room.”

“You may take the salad.”

She returns to the kitchen and slices the roast beef and dishes up his potatoes.  She considers the vial on the kitchen counter.  She picks it up, studies it.  She unscrews the lid and sniffs cautiously.  She hears the bell.
“Coming,” she calls.

“One dollar,” he says calmly.  “And another dollar for every second more you make me wait.  One…two…”

She thinks of the note; thinks of the look of joy upon the ex-wife’s face when she finally made it out of the house for good.  Be free.

For far too long, he’s controlled her life.  For fifteen years, she’s had to atone for her simple mistake.  For fifteen years, he has abused her with his power.

She dumps the vial upon the potatoes and fluffs them with a fork.  Hands trembling, she carries the plate to the dining room and sets it before him. 

He picks up his fork and takes a bite.  “These potatoes are cold.”

She smiles.  She shows him her teeth.  Her last words to him are, "you know what they say: Revenge is a dish best served cold."

He frowns.  “Drop your eyes, girl.”

But she refuses.  She watches him on his journey, somewhere between here and there.  Then she reaches into his pocket where he keeps his money in a silver clip.  She counts out nine crisp hundred dollar bills and returns the clip to his pocket before leaving the dining room forever.

In the kitchen she picks up the box and the vial.  She makes a note to stop at three dumpsters before picking up a Christmas tree that night. 

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Lisa challenged me with Her last words to him were, "you know what they say...revenge is a dish best served cold." I challenged ChrisWhiteWrites with I'd like to build a house of straw.

Labels:

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Somewhere Between Here and There

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Somewhere Between Here and There


She pauses in her buffing to glance out the window.  The snow is falling heavier now, thicker.  Maybe he’ll let her go early tonight.  Not because he’s concerned about her getting home to her family on Christmas Eve, but because he wants to make sure she gets back to him tomorrow:  If she gets stuck somewhere between here and there, she won’t be able to serve Christmas dinner to his relatives.  And without her serving, how will he impress his family?

She studies her work.  The bathroom faucet gleams.  He won’t find water spots on it tonight.  This time, he won’t find a reason to dock her pay.  Twenty cents for each water spot on stainless steel.  A dollar for a missing button.  Every perceived grievance is fined: too much salt; bread that didn’t rise properly; towels misfolded; bed made up with incorrect sheets; a book placed upon the wrong shelf.  Every mistake costs her dearly: an immunization foregone; her mother’s pills cut in half; an empty space where the Christmas tree ought to be.  Over fifteen years, he has docked her pay by over nine hundred dollars. 


She picks up damp towels from cold bathroom tiles and puts them in the laundry basket which she lugs downstairs to the basement.  She dumps the basket over; un-balls the socks flecked with discarded skin.  She sorts the laundry, darks and lights.  She treats the stains, undoing his mistakes and hoping she doesn’t make one herself.  She shoves the whites into the washing machine and precisely measures the liquid. 

In the kitchen, she mashes his potatoes and checks the roast.  She sorts his mail and opens the package Fed-Ex delivered that afternoon.  She studies the return address – it’s from his most recent ex-wife, the only woman who’d ever been kind to her within the confines of this bitter house.  She opens the package and takes out a small vial, an envelope with her name on it taped to the side. 

She looks behind her.  She tears open the envelope.  She slips out a piece of paper lightly scented with lavender, a fragrance he despises.  She opens the note and begins to read.

I know you still open his mail.
I know he still treats you badly.
I can help you escape, as you once helped me.
Take the vial.  Pour it into his food.  No one will know.
Be free.

She shakes her head.  Crumples up the note and jams it deep in the pocket of her apron.  The vial and the box and the note will go into three different dumpsters on her way home tonight.  She may hate the man, but she is no murderess.

She hears a bell.  Her signal.  She picks up his salad and takes it to the dining room.  Sets it down before him.  “You’ll be staying tonight,” he says.  “You’ll never make it back tomorrow morning.”
But, Sir…”  She keeps her eyes down, as he has taught her. 

“This salad has too much vinegar,” he says in reply, setting down his fork and picking up his newspaper.

“It’s Christmas Eve.” 

“I can ruin you,” he says.  “One word from me and your home, your husband and children…”  He snaps his finger.  “Gone.”

For fifteen years, the judge has held her offense over her head, threatening her with it whenever he finds it convenient.  She drops into a curtsy.  “I’ll make up the guest room.”

“You may take the salad.”

She returns to the kitchen and slices the roast beef and dishes up his potatoes.  She considers the vial on the kitchen counter.  She picks it up, studies it.  She unscrews the lid and sniffs cautiously.  She hears the bell.
“Coming,” she calls.

“One dollar,” he says calmly.  “And another dollar for every second more you make me wait.  One…two…”

She thinks of the note; thinks of the look of joy upon the ex-wife’s face when she finally made it out of the house for good.  Be free.

For far too long, he’s controlled her life.  For fifteen years, she’s had to atone for her simple mistake.  For fifteen years, he has abused her with his power.

She dumps the vial upon the potatoes and fluffs them with a fork.  Hands trembling, she carries the plate to the dining room and sets it before him. 

He picks up his fork and takes a bite.  “These potatoes are cold.”

She smiles.  She shows him her teeth.  Her last words to him are, "you know what they say: Revenge is a dish best served cold."

He frowns.  “Drop your eyes, girl.”

But she refuses.  She watches him on his journey, somewhere between here and there.  Then she reaches into his pocket where he keeps his money in a silver clip.  She counts out nine crisp hundred dollar bills and returns the clip to his pocket before leaving the dining room forever.

In the kitchen she picks up the box and the vial.  She makes a note to stop at three dumpsters before picking up a Christmas tree that night. 

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Lisa challenged me with Her last words to him were, "you know what they say...revenge is a dish best served cold." I challenged ChrisWhiteWrites with I'd like to build a house of straw.

Labels:

11 Comments:

At December 19, 2011 at 5:37 AM , Anonymous Susan Okaty said...

Totally immersed me in the scene. If she didn't dump that vial into his food, I was going to! Great job.

 
At December 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Susan! This was an interesting prompt to respond to.

 
At December 19, 2011 at 5:54 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

I was totally held in the 'will she,' 'won't she,' right until the end. Great write Kelly, enjoyed this serious little tale!

 
At December 19, 2011 at 8:50 PM , Anonymous Wendryn said...

The suspense was very well done, and the lingering mystery over what she had done is all the better for remaining a mystery. :)

 
At December 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM , Anonymous Marian said...

yes! lovely bit of holiday cheer, here :)

 
At December 20, 2011 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Isn't that the truth! Some of these prompts bring out the dark side...Thanks for reading.

 
At December 20, 2011 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading! Suspense is something I need to work on.

 
At December 20, 2011 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading, Elizabeth. Kind of dark.

 
At December 21, 2011 at 4:11 PM , Anonymous Tara R. said...

Nicely crafted. I found myself cheering her on... do it!

 
At December 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Tara!

 
At December 24, 2011 at 10:10 PM , Blogger R.L.W. said...

A fun and very well-written story. Great job!

 

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