The Wine Stain. The Dress. The Glass.

Submitted into Contest #156 in response to: Start your story with a character or a narrator saying, “Don’t you remember?”... view prompt

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Crime Drama Mystery

This story contains sensitive content

[TW: Themes of death and violence]

Don’t you remember?

            “We’re going to turn on the recording.”

            Blood. Screams. Don’t you remember? Remember, don’t you? Don’t remember, you? The knife, clattering to the floor.

            “Are you able to answer a few questions for us?”

            Blood. Screams. Don’t you remember? Remember, don’t you? Don’t remember, you? The knife, clattering to the floor. Her hands, red. The wine stain on her dress. The glass shattered on the wood. 

            “Do you remember…”

            Blood. Screams. Don’t you remember? Remember, don’t you? Don’t remember, you? The knife, clattering to the floor. Her hands, red. The wine stain on her dress. The glass shattered on the wood. Don’t you remember? The wine stain. The dress. The glass. The carpet. Him, on the ground. 

            “For the record, our witness is not responding.”

            Him, on the ground. His lips parted in the sudden loss of breath. She ruined her nice dress with the wine. 

            “Ma’am can we get you some water?”

            She had never liked wine. Especially red. So hard to drink, hard to think. She’d never get it out of the dress, and she’d bought that dress with him.

            “Here, drink this.”

            Cool. Parched. She was so parched. The cool on her throat. She drank the water, drank away the blood that coated the back of her throat. Blood. Screams. What did they want her to remember? She didn’t; she couldn’t.

            “Ms. Elizabeth.”

            Her cuticles bloody from picking. Bad habit she picked up, couldn’t drop. Drops of blood stained her dress. Drops of blood, drops of wine.

            “I can’t imagine your pain.”

            Melted eyes. Brown. Hers blurry. How could this have happened? Don’t you remember? Remember, don’t you? Don’t remember, you?

            “Can you tell us what you saw?”

            His hands, bloody. White carpet, marred. 

            “She has the right to remain silent.”

            How? Who? Not her. Never her. She couldn’t. He always said she couldn’t hurt a fly. But the knife. The blood.

            “Do you have a lawyer you’d like us to call?”

            He was a lawyer. A good one. He never really told her about it, but she knew. His clients. They could come after him. Maybe they had. But her hands were bloody. Remember you, don’t?

            “I can’t.”

            “Ma’am?”

            “Remember.”

            “Can you tell me about your relationship to the deceased?”

            They wouldn’t want to know the way he held her. The way he whispered into her ear as he kissed her neck. “My husband. He is—was—a lawyer.” Her throat, dry. Her voice, raspy. Blink, think. “With dangerous clients I think.”

            “Did something happen with one of them?”

            His smile tightening. His hair standing up straighter from running his hand through it. Late night phone calls with the door parted a crack, the light streaming into the dark hallway. His shutting the door when she came to ask him to come to bed. Muted murmuring. A repeated “I won’t do it.” He wouldn’t tell her, but she knew.

            “I think—” She didn’t drink red wine. “I think so.”

            “Does you recognize this man?”

            His features, squished. His nose, flat. Beady eyes, nothing like his eyes that cared for her and loved her and wouldn’t have hurt her. “No.” The office. A flash of a green shirt. She surprised him, and he’d been with a client. “This is my wife,” he’d said. The beady eyes. The squished features. The quick brush of nod hello. “Wait.” Green. Red. Blood. Wine. “Yes. At my husband’s office, a few weeks ago.”

            The melted eyes. Warmth. God, she missed him. “Can you elaborate please? And for the benefit of our recording, can you state your name and your husband’s name?”

            “Rachel Elizabeth. My husband’s name is—was—Daniel Park. He worked with a small law firm as a criminal defense lawyer. The firm focused on high-paying clients. Daniel didn’t like it when I went to the office. He worried about my safety. A few weeks ago, on our anniversary, I surprised him. We had a dinner reservation that night. I went up to his office, and he had a client with him, so I waited. When the client,” squished features, beady eyes “that man, left his office, Daniel introduced me. The man nodded at me.”

            “Is that the last time you saw him?”

            “Yes.” 

            “Do you know this gentleman’s name?” Pause. “For the record, our witness is shaking her head.”

            “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me.” Hands through his hair. Lines deepening at the corners of his mouth. “I can’t.” In the beginning, they hadn’t had any secrets. When he transferred to the New York office, they’d decorated their new apartment with the giddiness of newlyweds, fighting over the statement color—she wanted yellow, he blue—and the shape of the couch. But the work picked up, and she had more nights alone, falling asleep on the L-shaped couch he wanted. When he was around, he was distracted, his work phone ringing with near constancy. Dinners left uneaten on the table. Takeout containers flooding the trashcan. Rumpled shirts on the bedroom floor. 

            “Are you aware this man died yesterday?”   

            Daniel had the quick wit she needed. She gave, and he gave it back. But they hadn’t exchanged much beyond tired smiles the last few months. He didn’t have time to tease her the way he usually did. 

            “Ms. Elizabeth, did you know this man died yesterday?”

            “No.”

            “Your husband is one of three murders that have occurred in the last three days. They’re all connected to a killing that happened a few months ago. This man,” beady eyes, “killed the young boy. Your husband defended him.”

            “What?”

            Glances. Fingers drumming on the table. “Your husband—”

            “What boy?”

            Throat clearing. “Does the name Andy Thompson mean anything to you?” Pause. “For the record, our witness is shaking her head.”

            They’d always wanted children. Daniel couldn’t. Adoption took longer than they expected. She’d walk through the aisles, running her hands over the pastels, imagining the sound of childish glee. One day, she bought a pair of shoes. It was the only time he snapped at her, asking her how she could put it in his face like that, did she want to be with someone else? She hid the shoes but didn’t throw them away. That was a few months ago. “What happened?”

            “The little boy’s walk home from school took him through the woods. They found him there the next day.”

            The knife, clattering to the floor. Her hands, red. The wine stain on her dress. The glass shattered on the wood.

            “A kill intended to wound, deeply.”

            “Can we try again?” Narrowed eyes. Tears. He didn’t understand. He couldn’t. She didn’t blame him, but she wanted a family. 

            “Did your husband mention any of this?”

            “No.” 

            “Had his behavior changed recently?” 

            Hands through his hair. Lines deepening at the corners of his mouth. Takeout containers flooding the trashcan. Rumpled shirts on the bedroom floor. “I don’t know.”

            “What do you mean by that?”

            “I—” “We’re not the same,” she told her sister. “I don’t know what it is. Things are…different.” Her sister said not to worry about it. Maybe they should go on a trip together, get out of the city. The heat never helped anyone. It would get better—he loved her after all. How could it not? “Things were different.”

            “How?”

            “I don’t want you to feel like you have to pick up after me. These past months have been more stressful than I expected, that’s all. It’ll get better soon.” She nodded, toyed with her food. “Hey,” he said, grabbing her hand. “Let’s go on that trip you wanted to take. What do you say? You let me know the dates, and I’ll take off work.” “He was stressed, busy.”

            “Did he tell you why?”

            “Not really.”

            She heard sobs, the ones that tore up through the gut and ripped out of his throat. She pushed open the bathroom door to find him crumpled around the base of the toilet. “Daniel?” She knelt, gathering him into her arms. “Hey. What’s going on?” He didn’t answer her, instead wrapping his hands around her back and burying his head in her shoulder. “Can I get you anything?” He shook his head. What could have reduced her husband, normally unshakeable, to tears? She’d only heard these cries when he found out about his infertility. She’d pretended not to hear, but she knew it hurt him deeply. Maybe that’s when they started to drift, when instead of sharing the pain, they hid.

            “Ms. Elizabeth, can you give us more detail?”

            “He had late night calls. He didn’t tell me about them, but I heard him.”

            “What was his tone?”

            “This wasn’t in the job description, Martin, and you know it. You told me high-paying clients, and fast opportunities for growth. No. That’s not what I agreed to.” “Stressed, adamant.” 

            The airy slide of paper across the table. “Do you know this man?”

            A full head of silver hair, a wry smile. Aging favored the Y-chromosome. She could almost see his two-dimensional lips move. “Daniel is lucky to have married someone like you.” “Yes.”

            “Can you tell me his name?”

            “Martin Nelson.”

            “How do you know Mr. Nelson?”

            “He was my husband’s boss.” He had a powerful handshake with a firm grip. Always wore a purple shirt under tailored, three-piece suits. His cologne, which followed him like a train, bled of money. 

            “Were you aware of Mr. Nelson’s ties to criminal activities?”

            “What?”

            “Mr. Nelson was highly involved with the mafia. Did you know about this?”

            “No.”

            “Did your husband?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “How could you not know? He’s your husband.”

            Shuffling. Hand gripping arm, door opening and closing. “Please forgive my colleague.”

            Could she have known? Don’t you remember? Remember, don’t you? Don’t remember, you? The knife, clattering to the floor. “Okay.”

            “You were not aware as to whether your husband had a sense for Mr. Nelson’s criminal involvement?”

            “I know his clients had criminal records. But no. I didn’t know about his boss, and no, I don’t know if he knew.” “So what do you do anyway?” She teased him, pulling him by his tie closer to her. “Miss you all day,” he replied, running his hands through her hair. She kissed him. “You’re not cheating on me, are you?” He hoisted her up, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. “As if I could cheat on you.” That laugh. God, she missed that laugh. “Don’t I know it.”

            A gulp of water, a rustle of papers. “What happened the night of his death?”

            “Daniel? Daniel?” He was choking, eyes bulging and face tinted blue. “Oh my god, Daniel.” Her groceries plummeted to the ground. An onion toppled out of the paper bag and rolled down their slightly tilted floor. Wine stained their white carpet. A fractured wine stem lay amongst tiny pieces of iridescent glass on the wood. They cut her feet when she rushed to him, wedging her hands around his back and underneath his ribcage. He pulled her off him, coughing and gasping all at the same time. “Wine,” he choked. She turned to the counter, where a newly opened bottle of wine sat with embossed, cream-colored stationary. “Martin.” 

The panic yanked up her stomach and strangled her heart. “Daniel.” He grabbed the counter, fingers slipping off the edge. “Is the wine drugged?” She asked. He reached for her hand. “Don’t drink red.” Tears stung her eyes. “I know I don’t drink red,” she cried. “Daniel. What do I do?” He wrapped his hands around her, and they sunk to the floor. “Daniel. I can’t lose you. Tell me what to do.” He rested his head on her shoulder, coughing and gasping. She kissed his head. “Don’t want to die,” he said. “I know,” she said. He shook his head, pointed to their knives. 

            “Ms. Elizabeth, we found your fingerprints on the knife. Can you explain how that happened?”

            “What?” He was so insistent she eventually reached up and grabbed one of their chef’s knives. “What do you want with this Daniel?” He put it in her hands, pointed it to his stomach. “What? Daniel, no. I can’t. I can’t lose you.” Sobs tore through the panic. “Daniel, no.” He put a hand on her temple and nodded, “Love you,” he mouthed. “Daniel, I c-can’t.” “Love you,” he said. “I love you too,” she sobbed.

            “Here.” A tissue. She touched her face. It was wet.








July 29, 2022 19:26

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1 comment

14:48 Aug 04, 2022

An intriguing story. I like how you repeated certain lines as if they were her attempts to hold on to her herself. I don't understand the end. I figured she must have killed someone, maybe her husband, but I don't understand if she came home and he was still alive, why didn't she just call 911? Why would her husband want her to stab him?

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