36 comments

Every morning for ten years you stand on the front porch, smiling and waving as Tom pulls out of the driveway. Neighbors drive past and wave. You smile and wave. This morning is no exception.


You pause a moment to take in the splendid morning. The forecast called for rain, but the sun is warm on your face and the sweet smell of honeysuckle fills the air. The weatherman got it wrong again. You feel so lucky to be alive. There’s a bounce to your step as you turn to go back inside the house.


Tom has left the coffeepot empty as usual. You always make him a full thermos to take to the office; the coffee at work is too bitter. He reminds you of his hour-long commute and his stressful job. Most mornings it irritates you because he didn’t leave you a cup, but this morning it doesn’t bother you. Tom puts himself first. But you live with it. This morning you sent him off with homemade sugar cookies. His favorite snack for his drive home. Make another pot of coffee and relax. There’s plenty of time to get the house clean before Tom comes home.


Time has gone by so fast. Not just the past couple of hours, but the past ten years. You remember the first day you met Tom. You had stepped in a crack in the sidewalk, broke the heel of your best shoes, and scattered your entire purse. Embarrassed, you tried to act composed, but you felt like a clumsy fool. Tom had smiled and helped you gather yourself. He insisted on buying you a cup of coffee to help you relax. You accepted and here you are ten years later.


Every marriage has its rough patches. You made a vow, till death do you part. Tom was the portrait of a perfect husband—to everyone but you. You had aspirations of advancing your career, starting a family, and having a happily ever after ending. He never wanted children. And no wife of his would work outside the home. Here you sit, waiting on the clothes to finish drying and the dishwasher to stop. You still have a chance for the happily ever after ending.


You don’t have time to sit and reflect on the past. Tom doesn’t appreciate a messy house or a late dinner. You need to get dressed and tidy up the bathroom. Put on the pink dress—the one Tom likes, but you hate. The bruise on your side is not as painful today, and the color is fading. It’s turned a pale yellow, almost unnoticeable. The flowers Tom sent are also fading. They sit on the dresser in the bedroom. Time to throw them out.


Did you forget to put Tom’s beer in the refrigerator? He likes his beer cold when he gets home from work. Better start the pot roast, you want it to be tender and juicy for dinner. Tom doesn’t like dry pot roast. You know what happened when the chicken was too dry last week. Oh, put the vegetables in at the right time. You don’t want them to overcook.


You sing along with the radio while setting the table. It aggravates Tom when you sing with the radio; he calls you tone deaf. Singing makes you happy, so you sing. You hear a car pull into the driveway. It’s not time for Tom to be home. The doorbell rings. You turn off the radio and answer the door. It’s your neighbor Frank, the state trooper, that lives down the block.


“Sarah, I hate to tell you, Tom has been in an accident.” Frank’s voice is somber.


“Oh, God! Is he all right? Did he get hurt?” The words spill out of your mouth. You feel a burning lump creep up in your throat. You swallow hard, trying not to vomit.


“I’m sorry Sarah, Tom didn’t make it. He’s dead,” Frank says.


“No, no, that can’t be right. He’s on his way home.” Your knees feel weak. You can taste the salty tears. The funny thing about tears, they all look and taste the same. Tears of relief, joy, pain, and grief—all the same.


“Tom ran off the road a short time after he left work. They think he had a seizure,” Frank took a breath. “He was dead when the ambulance got there.”


“This can’t be real.” You cry harder, covering your face with the tail of your apron.


“Do you want me to call Linda to come over and stay with you tonight?” Frank asked. Linda was Frank’s wife. She was the first to welcome you and Tom to the neighborhood. 


“No.”


“If we can help, just let us know,” Frank whispers.


“Thank you, but I’ll be okay tonight,” you say brushing your hair back from your face. “Where did they take him? I need to arrange for his memorial service.”


“You can call the coroner’s office in the morning. They can help you with the details.” Frank steps off the porch to leave. He pauses. “Try to rest.”


“I will. I just need to be alone right now.” You turn and go inside.


You collapse on the sofa. You clutch your hands to keep them from trembling. Take a deep breath. You have things to do. Go clean your face and change out of that hideous pink dress.


The pot roast turned out exceptionally moist tonight. The vegetables cooked to perfection. Tom would have approved. You clear the dishes and leave them in the sink. No one to please, but yourself. You clean up the laundry room before going to sleep. Fold the towels and put the rat poison back in the cupboard. You wonder if Tom enjoyed his favorite cookies on his way home.


It doesn’t seem like a week since Tom died. You had him cremated. Tom would have wanted to be on display, not stuck in an ordinary urn. You step out of the black limo. You’re wearing the black dress, the one Tom hated. You pause and breathe in the sweet, damp air. The forecast had called for clear skies. Wrong again, weatherman. You glance at your watch, you are ten minutes late. Fashionably late to Tom’s memorial service. Perfect. Tom hated it when you were late. You shrug and enter the chapel.

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36 comments

02:17 Jul 02, 2020

Yay!!!! Glad Tom bit it! Ok, maybe that's shallow, but I feel he got what he deserved. The only change I would make would be to have had her give him some other kind of poison...there would have been a toxicology report and autopsy, and rat poison (although appropriate) would show up. Picky, I know Otherwise, it was excellent! 👏👏👏

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Jan H
12:37 Jul 02, 2020

LOL! Katharine, your right about the poison. I just tried to pick something that would be quick and take care of the problem. To be honest I was rushed to get the story done. I love that you drilled down on the details. Thank you so much for your feedback!

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19:30 Jul 02, 2020

No problem. Maybe foxglove...a natural source of the cardiac drug digitalis... would work. Don't know if it's heat stable or if it has any taste, but it's a common and very pretty garden plant. Maybe an extract in the icing... Bhwahahaha 😈 PS...this story made me think of a favorite Twilight Zone episode where the wife bludgeoned her husband to death with a frozen leg of lamb, which she then cooked and offered to the responding police as a snack.😀

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Jan H
19:36 Jul 02, 2020

I love that. You're awesome. I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks about things like that. :)

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Adah M.m
19:47 Jul 10, 2020

🤣🤣 Tom had it coming. Sarah got the freedom she deserves, though I wish his death had been painful

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Jan H
21:35 Jul 10, 2020

LOL. I agree. I would like to think that he suffered a little before he crashed. Thanks so much for the comments.

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Yageen Faiz
18:01 Jul 08, 2020

hello! can you read one of my stories if you have time? thank you!

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Jan H
18:51 Jul 08, 2020

Sure, no problem.

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21:10 Jul 01, 2020

I’m glad Sarah has her freedom, but it’s a bit sad that Tom never changed. I was waiting for her to stand up to him while he was still around. Good job with descriptions!

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Jan H
22:42 Jul 01, 2020

Thank you, Emilie! I don't think Tom would ever change. I hope you still liked the story.

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23:10 Jul 01, 2020

I did! I look forward to reading more of your work, should you decide to submit another story

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Jan H
23:30 Jul 01, 2020

That's means a lot to me. Thank you so much!

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Nandan Prasad
14:54 Jun 30, 2020

This is such a wonderful story! The ending is especially brilliant. Reminds me of a Roald Dahl story I like. Also, would you mind checking out my story if it's not too much trouble? Thanks and good luck!

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Jan H
20:10 Jun 30, 2020

Thank you! I really appreciate your comments. I looked at your story and enjoyed it very much.

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Nandan Prasad
04:34 Jul 01, 2020

Sorry, the comment got repeated by mistake.

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Jan H
14:39 Jul 01, 2020

I kinda thought that was the case. I still thank you for liking the story. :)

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Nandan Prasad
02:01 Jul 02, 2020

Welcome 😊

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Nandan Prasad
13:31 Jun 30, 2020

Wow, wonderful story! The ending especially is so beautiful. Also, would you mind checking out my story if it's not too much trouble? Thanks and good luck!

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Jan H
13:48 Jun 30, 2020

Thank you, Nandan for the comments. I'm glad you liked the story. I would be happy to check out your story.

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Mehak Aneja
05:21 Jun 29, 2020

Wow!! Such a nice, sweet story. Kept me engaged till the end. Loved it. Would you mind checking my story out and giving it a like and sharing your opinions on it??

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Jan H
12:22 Jun 29, 2020

Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you liked the story.

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Khizra Aslam
21:17 Jun 28, 2020

Such a heart touching story...❤

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Jan H
21:41 Jun 28, 2020

Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you liked the story.

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Laura Clark
14:27 Jun 28, 2020

This is such a great story! I loved the ordinary, precise details that pepper the narrative because they make the dramatic twist pop even more. Both your characters are well constructed and distinct. One piece of advice that I hope you’ll find helpful is to focus a little more on the emotions, particularly in key moments. I thought the dialogue between the protagonist and Frank was very realistic but without much background narration about body language and reactions, it felt a little rushed. You clearly have talent so I hope to see ...

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Jan H
14:40 Jun 28, 2020

Laura, thank you for your comments. I truly appreciate your advice on character emotion. I agree it was rushed. I'm glad you liked the story.

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18:08 Jun 27, 2020

This is a truly wonderful story. The tragedy touched my heart, too. I also love the way you explicitly described the weather. Seeing as you're new to this community, I encourage you to keep writing and reading others' stories. I've really grown in the two months I've been here and I know you will, too. Keep it up!

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Jan H
18:19 Jun 27, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my story. Your encouragement means a lot to me. I was so afraid to even enter anything in the beginning.

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21:01 Jun 27, 2020

Haha, everyone feels like that. I remember I felt like that on my first submission two months ago. I had to submit two because I wasn't sure of the first one I submitted. Anyways, if you reach out to the right people in this community who are willing to proofread yourself work and give you constructive criticism, you'll grow.

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Charles Stucker
15:28 Aug 03, 2020

This is almost the reverse of how I did the same prompt. In mine, fashionably late comes at the beginning and YOU are caught for killing your husband days earlier. I loved it. Given the way the story unfolds it would be hard to make the first sentence anything too harsh. I see someone else commented on the rat poison. My choice would have been something like an illegal barbiturate and decaf coffee coupled with something to keep him up the night before. Even if they find it, they can't rule out suicide. OTOH if he died in an auto accident...

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Jan H
16:27 Aug 03, 2020

That's the first time I had written anything in the second person POV. I struggled a bit with the details. Definitely agree, rat poison wasn't the best choice. I wanted something kind of familiar and deliver it in a subtle way. I'd like to think an autopsy was waived due to the circumstance of the accident. Was going for something along the lines of a Stepford wife vibe. I love the old noir mystery movies from the forties and fifties. Anything Bogart. The Maltese Falcon is one of my favorites. Thank you again for taking the time to...

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Charles Stucker
17:08 Aug 03, 2020

First time for second person here too. I found I liked it and am working on a tale for Asimov using 2nd person.

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Jan H
19:23 Aug 03, 2020

Yeah, I thought it was fun to write in the second person also. I would enjoy reading your story if you get it in Asimov. If you don't mind and have time, let me know if you get it published.

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Charles Stucker
19:46 Aug 03, 2020

I will. But big mags take months to respond. With covid, it might be more like a years.

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Jan H
20:33 Aug 03, 2020

Understood. Hopefully, we'll all still be around for a long time.

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Rhonda Hyder
23:54 Jul 10, 2020

Oh wow! That is an amazing story! I was feeling so sad about this poor girl's life and her future too. You really managed to gather a serious amount of empathy for her in your description. The surprise ending concerning the loving gift of the cookies was such a clever idea. I too am an amateur writer and love to put in a twist at the end of my stories.

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Jan H
02:02 Jul 11, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I do like surprise endings and kind of twisted stories. :)

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