Skeleton in the Closet

Submitted into Contest #161 in response to: Write about a character who lives a seemingly charmed life.... view prompt

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Thriller Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

So this is the peak of my life I guess, John thought to himself as smooth jazz music tickled his ears and the scent of coffee filled the room. He leaned back on his cushy dining room chair and closed his eyes. A soft creak of the hardwood floorboards drew his attention and his eyes fluttered open to see the silhouette of his wife. In her hands she carried an ornate silver tray with small Turkish style mugs. 

“Coffee is ready,” she said in a soft voice.

To his left, his father sat up in his chair at the sound of her voice. “My goodness! This is too much; we are the ones who should wait on you.” 

His wife smiled warmly while rearranging soiled dinner plates, then placed the tray in front of his father and mother. 

“We’ll clean up,” his mother chimed in. “Now go get my grandson and dote on him, not us!”

“Charlotte please, you’ve done enough. Go take a break.” John said as her hands left the tray. Her eyes shifted to him. There was a warm blush to her cheeks, and her skin looked flawless. She didn’t look like what he imagined a new mother would. He knew it was all an illusion, of course. She had caked herself in makeup, and in all honesty, he preferred it. She never dolled herself up anymore for him and she only looked so good because his parents were here. He smiled to himself, a hunger rising from deep within. He would, of course, take advantage of this later.

She bent down and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. His eyes were drawn to the line of her breasts that peaked out from the neck of her dress. 

“Please excuse me, I’ll be right back,” she said softly and her dress swayed around her legs as she turned to leave the room.

His father cleared his voice and spoke up, “I’m proud of you. This is the life I had dreamed for you and watching you build it in real time is like a dream come true.” His mother nodded her head in agreement. 

A forced smile formed on John’s lips. This was the life his parents dreamed for him, but he didn’t share that dream. Sure, the deep pool of wealth was great, and he enjoyed spending it frivolously on new cars and motorcycles, his ‘toys’ he called them, but there was always something off that made his three-story home feel like a prison. 

The soft hum of a lullaby came from the room down the hall, followed by the click of a door opening. 

“There he is!” His mother exclaimed in a hushed voice. “Bring him here.”

John glanced up and saw Charlotte slowly walking down the hall. In her arms, swaddled in a baby blue blanket, was their infant son. While his parents nearly melted at the sight of their grandson, John always felt indifferent towards the child. He would do his best whenever others were around, imitating their responses, but when he was alone with it, he never cooed or made of a fuss. He just didn’t see the point of it, it all just seemed so stupid.

His mother held out her arms, begging to hold the newborn. John could see the moment of hesitation in Charlotte’s eyes. She didn’t like anyone else touching her baby still. She still avoided letting him care for the baby whenever she could, not that he minded. 

With all the care Charlotte could muster, she handed the baby off to his mother. The twinkle of tears formed in the corner of Charlotte’s eyes and John found himself with the urge to pour himself a glass of whisky. 

The side of John’s pants buzzed. He placed a hand on the outside of his pocket and felt the outline of his phone. Normally he didn’t keep his phone on silent as he didn’t have many people calling or texting him regularly, save for one person. His fingers tightened around his phone, as if he could squeeze out the energy growing from it. His phone buzzed once more, and the chair nearly fell over as he stood up. Everyone’s eyes darted towards him.

“Be right back… bathroom,” he said while shuffling out of the room, his hand begging to pull out his phone and read whatever was on the screen.

The bathroom door squeaked as he locked it behind him. John felt as though he were about to burst with excitement. His hand couldn’t move fast enough to his pocket. He pulled out his phone and the black screen lit up. His brow furrowed as he read the text from his lover, Sarah.

You never told me you were having a family get together today! By the way, congratulations on the baby!

John felt as though his heart had stopped, and the sudden urge to vomit nearly overtook him. He had always done his best to never let Sarah know he was married or had a baby. He never posted pictures on any social media and untagged any he was in with the excuse of ‘I hate seeing pictures of myself’ and he was careful of any pictures he sent to her. He made sure that nothing of his family reflected in images or in any conversations they had. He had kept his marriage secret from her for years until today. Where did I go wrong? He wondered to himself. 

The realization that it was over between him, and Sarah almost made John feel something. If he was capable of love, it would have been with her. He pursued nothing with her because she didn’t have the same prestige as his wife, she was a no name and his parents would have never approved. He didn’t believe marriage was ever about love anyway, just about getting ahead in life. 

The doorbell chimed, and John froze. It can’t be… The world spun around him before his vision faded. He never told Sarah where he lived, but at the same time she wasn’t supposed to know about his family, or this get together either.

“Oh God…” he mouthed. Then like a bolt of lightning, his hand raced to the lock, and he opened the bathroom door. 

“I’ll get it,” he called out while walking as fast as he could to the front door. There is no way it could be her. I’m just being paranoid, he thought to himself as he came closer to the door. The doorbell then chimed again and cries from his baby echoed from the next room. 

The doorknob felt icy on his burning hands. He pulled the door open, and a gush of the fresh night breeze cooled his lungs. The sound of toads and spring peepers called out from the woods surrounding his home and stars twinkled from the clear sky above. Standing just beyond his doorstep was Sarah, wearing a tight black dress that hugged her every curve. Any other time, he would have ravaged her right there and then.

In a harsh but quieted voice he asked “What are you doing here?”

A sweet smile formed on her bright red lips. “I just wanted to congratulate you and your wife.” The word wife came out with a hiss as she spoke.

John glanced behind him, making sure that no one had followed him to the door. “Please just go,” he said while attempting to make a pleading face. “We’ll talk later, okay?”

“Nonsense,” she said while pushing herself past John and into the front door. “I want to see your baby.” Her eyes twinkled in the starlight, and her lip twitched as she smiled. He could see the rage building from behind her soft smile. 

“Sarah!” He called out from behind her, and she did not so much as flinch at her name. Sarah continued down the hallway, and John grabbed her by the arm. 

“Okay, I know why you’re angry. Just please, let’s go upstairs to talk, okay?”

Charlotte’s voice called out from the dining room, “honey, is everything okay? Who is it?”

His eyes remained locked with Sarah’s as he answered, “It’s ummm… One of the bathroom contractors I hired… He left something here. Just going to take him to grab it. Stay there. I’ll be right back.” 

His grip around her arm tightened, and he could see her wince in pain. He pointed towards the staircase and guided her up. Sarah’s fake smile had long disappeared. Her eyes were pinned on him and for a moment he thought he even saw flames rising in her dark eyes.

The bathroom door swung open, and John shoved Sarah in. The white tile and bright lights glared in his eyes. He could see red marks left on her skin where his fingers had pressed into her arm. Perhaps that will give her a wake-up call.In the past, he had always been so tender to her, he would hold her close and whisper sweet words into her ear after each time they made love. A moment of sadness passed over him. He would never be able to hold her so tenderly again after this. Those memories now seemed so far away.

He clasped his hands together as if to beg and again said, “please, we can talk later. I’ll give you anything you want. Money, things, whatever you want but you have to leave.”

“You think this is about money?” Sarah said with her hands held out. “If I wanted money, I wouldn’t have come all the way out here… No, I want something else. I want to ruin you and that pretty wife of yours. What’s her name? Charlotte, right?” Sarah laughed as she spoke, but her voice quivered as if about to cry. 

“Have you been stalking me and my family?” John said while taking a step toward her. His hand tightened into a fist.

“Stalking? Oh no! You know, it’s easy to find out anything you want about a person.” Sarah paused and her eyes fell on John. He did his best to keep a straight face but felt his lip twitch. “Oh yes! I know you’ve attempted to hide it all from me, but you see we don’t live in the Stone Age anymore, stupid…. A quick google search tells you everything you need to know… shame I was too stupid to think to do it before now.” A tear rolled down Sarah’s cheek. She was even still pretty when she cried, John thought.

He held his hands up, “okay… what am I supposed to do? I can’t fix anything right now. My family is here. Please just go and we’ll talk tomorrow okay, I promise I’ll fix things. Whatever it takes.”

“Whatever it takes,” Sarah echoed back to him. “Are you going to leave your wife for me?” Another tear fell down her face, and she wiped it away. “You’ve had years to leave her for me, so I know that’s never going to happen. So instead, I’m just going to show your wife and your whole family just how big of a piece of shit you are.” 

Sarah went for the door, and he blocked her.

“Move,” she spat at him. 

“I can’t let you do that,” John said in an even voice. 

“I’ll scream,” she said.

John didn’t waste a moment. His hand shot towards her mouth, and he pushed her towards the ground. Her head hit the edge of the toilet with a loud thud. A strange gasping noise came from under his hand and Sarah’s eyes rolled so that only the bloodshot whites showed. Her body trembled and convulsed from under him, and her eyes widened so much he worried they might fall out of her sockets. He could feel her teeth chatter against his hand, and he felt a warm wetness grow on his leg. His eyes trailed down and he saw she had soiled herself as a puddle of urine pooled from underneath her seizing body. 

An ocean of blackness emerged from her head, taking over his pristine white tile floor. Sarah’s body then stilled from under him. John lifted his hand from her mouth and nothing, but heavy silence followed. He looked down at her face, her lipstick was smeared all over her lips.

With trembling hands, he felt for her pulse. Again and again, he tried on her neck and wrist, desperate to feel something. 

“No… no…” he said while fighting back sobs. 

John then sat up and stared down Sarah’s body.

Charlotte’s voice rose from downstairs, “babe, is everything okay up there? Is the contractor still here?”

He took a deep breath in then, as steady as he could, he answered, “everything is fine, he’s just about to leave.” 

In the next beat, he lifted Sarah’s body up and dragged her into the closet next to the shower. A trail of blood followed as he pulled her. He sat her up against the wall of the closet and pushed her legs in just before closing the door on her. He then grabbed a towel and began mopping up as much of the blood as he could. It spread further out, staining the tiles and grout a light pink color. He would have to worry about this later. For now, he just needed to get back downstairs and tell his wife that the contractor made a mess. If he were lucky, she would believe him. She always believed every other lie he told her when he went out to meet with Sarah anyway. Or at least she pretended to believe him. Maybe that was what she was doing now, just like me… he thought. Pretending to live the dream life. He looked back over at the closet. He could feel the cold lifeless stare from within. “Don’t you judge me,” he said to it before turning away and closing the bathroom door behind him.

He made his way downstairs and smiled at Charlotte as she waited for him at the bottom of the stairs. 

“I heard a loud thud. Everything okay up there?”

John gave her the sweetest smile he could offer. “perfect, just had to fix a few things up so don’t go in there, we made a mess.”

Her eyes glanced up the staircase, “where’s the contractor? I didn’t hear him leave.”

John could feel his pulse pick up. “He’s… oh he left already.”

“But no one…” Charlotte then paused, her eyes still gazing at the staircase before turning to look at John. He could see tears well up in her eyes again. She blinked them away and her face softened.

“Yes dear,” she said. She then turned away from him without another word. They both rejoined the others and sipped on coffee, laughed at terrible jokes from John’s father, and enjoyed the rest of the party. Not a single thought of John’s went back to the corpse waiting for him upstairs.

August 29, 2022 13:57

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Tommy Goround
20:01 Sep 08, 2022



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