Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Indie Ink Writing Challenge: We Can Work It Out

This week in IndieInk land there is no All Star Break, as Chelsea gives me "we tried to work it out", and I give to Sunshine "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues".

What follows is fiction- as of yet, I have stabbed no one, and I have not been stabbed. (My capacity to annoy someone into a homicidal state is pretty extraordinary, though, so as the great Jack Palance put it in the movie "City Slickers", "Day's not over yet.") (I did nearly cause myself to bleed to death, but that's another story. And that was an accident.) (The accident is actually mentioned here on This Blog, but if you have the patience to go find it, you are a better person than This Blog.) Fair warning: this is less than pleasant reading.

This is called "We Can Work It Out"

It always worked, at first.

He'd try a new drug, and he'd be calm for a while. Or we'd try marriage counseling again, and he'd improve for a time. We'd be calm with each other, explaining how we feel, allowing the other one to talk, conceding the small issues, swallowing some past hatreds. It would be harmonious for a week, maybe two.

But like mold taking over an orange that you left out too long, the bitterness would creep back in. The sarcastic comments began, the casual implications of money ill spent, respect not given. His criticisms of my parenting, spending, and behavior were occasional, and then constant, and then unrelenting. "You're not really sick!", and "Can't you do anything right?", and "Do I have to do EVERYTHING?", every word dripping with venom. We'd blow up, erupting into a massive, screaming row, and we were back onto the hate cycle again, apologies and recriminations and promises to do better.

He never hit me- he was smarter than that, knowing I'd be on the phone to the police in seconds. But he may as well have. His words flayed me like a whip, removing chunks of skin and bone with every "why can't you..." and every declaration that he never should have married me. He was right. Our union was star crossed, doomed from the outset, now that it is far too late to do anything about it. We had been together nearly half our lives, and I'm sure he wondered, like I did, what the hell we were thinking.

The twins were hypnotized by one of those Japanese cartoon shows where monsters battle for supremacy, with plenty of yelling and cartoon gore amid commercials for the accompanying action figures and trading cards. He came in from work as I was wrestling with one of their plastic toys, a red lizard that was supposed to roar and start walking when you pushed the button. I was intent on removing one of those tiny recessed Phillips head screws, trying to get at the battery, so I didn't really register his arrival until his head flew suddenly into my peripheral vision.

"Finally decided to DO something today, huh?," he said mockingly. He had bent over, sticking his head right next to mine in an attempt to frighten me. He knew I hated being startled. It was a migraine trigger, and it was too redolent of my childhood, constantly being afraid of what was going to happen. I knew that he knew that, and I knew that he enjoyed knowing how much I hated it. I could hear the glee in his tone.

I turned to defend myself, bringing both hands towards my head while simultaneously jerking away from him. I heard a wet slap of liquid, then felt a warm spray down my arm, red blood fountaining out of his neck where the screwdriver now rested, buried to the hilt, right through a vein. He made a sound like "Gawwwwk..." and scrambled for purchase against the back of the couch before falling to the floor with a thump.

I looked down at my arm as if it belonged to someone else, a thick red swath of liquid splashed on it looking for all the world like ketchup. I heard him struggling to breathe behind the couch, hearing the bubbling as more air and blood leaked out of him. On the screen, an elaborately armored rhino roared at its enemy, a black bird which was crumpled at its feet, "I have VANQUISHED you!"


  1. Holy Godzilla that was intense! Your story twists are very twisted... and I mean that in a good way. Well done!

  2. Wow. Just wow. I liked this one a lot.

  3. Most excellent. I was there. I didn't stab, but I've been in that situation. You captured it.

  4. wow!

    you know....the way you make the female(?) character sound (i don't think you specify male or female, but the concept or marriage implies the opposite sex) makes her seem rather unlikeable, which is interesting when put against the "bad guy" who ends up getting killed. usually the line is clear between good and evil, but i was annoyed with her for having a billion excuses about triggers. you did so much with such a small bit, and it was so good - at first, i was expecting a loooooong story, but you captured the essence of that scene so quickly! well done!

  5. I haven't read your work in a while, but this was some great writing. I'm pretty sure I said much the same thing the last time I was here!

    I feel a pattern forming ...

  6. @Chelsea: Isn't it interesting how it becomes a Rorshach test for all of us? The narrator is supposed to be a woman, and the person she stabs is her abusive husband. I also tried to make it unclear whether or not it is an accident, but people don't seem to have seen that angle.

  7. I'm a little late to the party, but whatever :)

    This was great! Short, violent, and the bad guy dies in the end. Also, there was an armored rhino involved. It had everything!


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