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Crime Contemporary Suspense

Another cup, this time sweeter

On his 365th day of unemployment, her husband took his coffee, pack of cigarettes and phone to the garden, sat on a chair and did not move for three hours. She knew she would hear all about what he was reading later, in bed, when her day’s work for her employer would be done, the children would be in bed and the house cleaned from the worse of the day.

In every spare moment she wished him dead. It’s a healthy reaction to wish somebody dead if you think that your life would be better afterwards, her psychologist had said. The things that would be better were:

- less dirty cups

- less cooking, half the laundry

- she could have more money without his spending her salary on stupid gadgets

- no more cigarette smoke finding its way into everything

- she could go to bed without hearing about the incoming apocalypse (hyperinflation leading to the collapse of the economy leading somehow to a full-blown bloody zombie war on their street).

This part was the best. Not having to appeal to reason, to high-quality news sources, not having to feel the disappointment in his intelligence, in her choice, not having to feel the disgust for the monumental stupidity, ugliness and cigarette stench radiating from him.

He took his information mainly from Facebook groups. It was one year of that now. One year of the collapse of the west, underground bunkers, moving to a third-world country with the two children, taking all the money out the bank and putting it in crypto.

She had often thought about how to do it. Her job in the hospice was of course a godsend. She did not have to google lethal substances from an obscure internet café, fearing that the police would search her computer after. She had stolen a little every day - a chemical substance that was most used in cases of euthanasia, slowly sending the patient into a coma from which nobody recovered. The only thing was that she couldn’t inject it, she would have to have him drink it and add something against vomiting just to be sure. Besides it was bitter, taken usually with something like orange juice or Coca-Cola but sweetened coffee would do too.

After three hours he stood up and came to her with glossy eyes, you could see his neck was stiff from staring into the screen for so long. He hadn’t showered in some days, he still had on the red T-shirt she has washed with colored clothes last week.

I cannot postpone it anymore, he said. We must sell the house, or we won’t get anything for it anymore in the end. I wasted enough time as it is, everything is falling to pieces in this country. I searched for apartments in Mexico, do you know what we could afford there? Fresh tropical fruits, a maid, and a cook, you could work remote from the beach, I’ve told you before, I researched, you must believe me, let’s get out of here.

How could she? With Brooklyn’s autism and need for therapy, with Daniel`s asthma, her parents needing their shopping brought in once a week, her weekly meeting with the other mothers in the yoga class and sitting in the café after, the only time she could complain, get sympathy, and expand her lungs and finally breathe.

He said, you’ll only have yourself to blame in half a year or so, look at what the Russians and Chinese are doing, the government is printing money, the rich are getting richer, the system is rigged, we need to get out while we can, they’ll soon close the borders and then it will be too late.

She had saved some money but with him not working they were getting through it fast, every day a package came from Amazon, there was some long researched essential gadget in there, the best for the money, the best in its class according to several bloggers and specialized websites. A lantern, it was, a disinfectant for the water tank, a spear, trekking shoes for all four of them even though the children needed a bigger size two times per year.

This needs to end, he said. I cannot stay here anymore.

Her internet searches had not brought her to any clear conclusion, nothing fitted 100%, she knew nobody she could talk about it for real. Her therapist did not want to remotely diagnose paranoia but suggested referring him to a psychiatrist, she had not even mentioned it to him, she knew what she would day and that she’d never hear the end of it. It was probably not as bad. He would not get an official diagnosis, not without sharing all his thoughts and he only shared his thoughts with group members. Maybe the shrink could infiltrate the Facebook Doomsday group, she thought, and she almost smiled but then she saw his injected eyes, he was tensing his whole body, it was not the time for jokes. And yet everything around them was so calm, first yellow leaves falling slowly to the ground, the air still warm. In between his sentences intervals of silence but they were getting shorter and shorter and his voice louder, sharper, now already enraged.

If you do not decide fast, I’ll take the kids with their passports and just drive one night, he said, you will follow us then, a fait accompli it will be, he laughed, pardon my French.

She slowly turned away from him and looked out of the window, the house in font of them was covered in chipped grey paint, looking worse every year, the old couple living in it getting cooked food once a day now and hardly coming out to see it.

She looked further away at the portion of the street that she could see through the neighbors’ fence. School had started one more time. She had given him a year to snap out of it and time had run out.

October 13, 2021 17:00

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5 comments

Amanda Lieser
21:16 Oct 20, 2021

Hi Michael’s, I really like how you painted this marriage. Marriage is very complicated and I think you summarized a specific time in this couple’s life very well. I love how you talked about an aspect of social media we don’t always see-all those groups. I was also impressed at the conflict you created. This was a story I walked away from feeling a lot of feelings. Nice job! Thank you for writing this story and I look forward to reading your comments on my work.

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Kate Winchester
16:13 Oct 21, 2021

I really liked this! You do a great job of showing the conflict, but yet life seems normal. I too, was waiting/wanted for her to snap. Lol

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Emma Cooper
00:05 Oct 21, 2021

Oooooo... I liked that. I rooted for her, I kinda wanted her to just snap and do it. That's good writing. I like how it is soft, slow and almost insidious. This is a very normal family with a very normal life but the wife is slowly breaking because of her husbands internet addiction. I liken it to stories I read about alcohol addiction or drug addiction- she's trying to keep the family together but the person in her life just isn't for quitting. Stylistically, I like how there are no speech marks- everything said is just flowing around the...

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Shannon Ruane
02:58 Oct 18, 2021

I loved your story. I can completely relate to your character's life. The mystery of whether she will/will not kill him intrigued me.

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Mihaela Elsner
11:50 Oct 19, 2021

Dear Shannon, thank you very much for your feedback. It means a lot to me, as this is the first story I have written in a really long time.

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