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Drama

Abby usually did the laundry, but on the rare occasion that John did, the smell of the detergent took him back. Back to a time they had both erased from their memory. A time they promised to never speak of again. But the detergent had been only the beginning. 


           They had been so excited, after a year of trying it finally happened, they couldn’t believe their eyes. But there it was, two pink lines staring back at them. John grabbed Abby in an embrace, both crying. Their labrador retriever, Brody, circled their legs.

           The next few months were typical. Abby was tired and nauseous but nothing serious. The doctor’s appointments went well, the baby was growing as expected. John doted on Abby; making sure she rested, ate right, and took her vitamins. He had never been so happy.

           Then around the seventh month Abby developed cravings. John started making late night trips for ice cream and Doritos and black licorice. He thrilled with the sight of Abby, who had once been concerned about her weight and only eating organic, now propping a bowl of fried pickles on her large tummy, eating with reckless abandon. 

           One afternoon when she was doing laundry, John came into the kitchen. She was holding the scoop of powdered detergent up to her nose, her eyes closed, and her lips parted, a dreamy look on her face.

           “What are you doing,” he asked, coming up behind her.

           “Don’t you ever just want to eat it? It looks so gritty and crunchy and salty,” she asked, taking a deep inhalation of the powdered soap.

           “Babe, don’t even think about it,” he said, half laughing, half nervous. “Those are just pregnancy cravings. I think it means your iron is low or something. Lets ask the doctor and maybe they’ll do some lab work,” he said taking the scoop out of her hands.

           But they went to the doctor the following week, and the levels were fine. He started buying liquid detergent, just in case.


           A week later John came home from work early.

           “Abby? Abby you home?” He called. As he walked into the living room she was sitting on the couch, pushing something under cushion. “Oh, hi honey, you’re home early,” she said nonchalantly.

           “What was that? What are you doing?” He asked nervously. Brody sat next to her on the couch, cocking his ears at him. Brody had been John’s loyal companion since before he met Abby, but now he seemed to prefer her; following her around the house, sleeping at her side of the bed. Traitor.

           “Nothing,” she mumbled with a mouthful. He ran to her and flipped the cushion over, expecting to see the laundry detergent. But instead, there was a hole in the cushion, the size of a baseball, with the stuffing torn out. He grabbed her face with his hands.

           “Spit it out,” he yelled at her. She reluctantly opened her mouth and spit the bits of white fluff into his outstretched hand.

           “You’re going to choke. This is not healthy for the baby.”

           “It’s not not healthy, its only cotton,” she said, her voice muffled, as she calmly spit the last of it out.

           “You could get an obstruction or something. I don’t know. I just know it‘s bad. You can’t be eating the furniture!”

           “Okay. I’m sorry.”

           “Promise me you won’t do it again.”

           “I promise.”

           He turned to go upstairs. He could feel them staring at him as he walked away. For the first time ever, he was concerned about his wife.


           That night they went on their nightly walk before dinner. Brody pulled on the leash, Abby’s arm stretched. “Here let me do it. You’re going to hurt your arm,” John said, taking the leash from her.

           “Oh honey. You worry too much. I’m fine.” Maybe she was right. He didn’t want to put any added stress on her. He promised her he would try to relax and enjoy these last weeks it was just the two of them. They held hands as the sun set, Brody leading the way back home.


           After dinner the following night John took a shower while Abby got ready for bed.

           “Abby. I’m sorry I was so hard on you yesterday. I know it can’t be easy being pregnant,“ he called out from the bathroom. She didn’t answer.

           “Babe? Are you there?” Then through the bathroom window he saw the motion light in the backyard go on. He went downstairs, still dripping, his towel around his waist.

           Through the backdoor he saw her. She was on her knees, feverishly digging with both hands, stopping only to bring handfuls of dirt to her mouth. The backyard was illuminated, showing off dozens of small holes. He stepped out onto the patio, stunned. Hearing the backdoor slap shut, her head snapped over in his direction. Dirt stuck to her chin and under her French manicure.

           “I’m sorry honey. I just can’t help it,” she said, dirt falling out of her mouth onto her business blouse, her pencil skirt pulled up over her knees. He walked over to her, took her by the hand, and brought her into the house. He was scared, for the first time in a long time.


           “Well the doctor said it won’t hurt you but you need to stop doing it before it does. It’s actually somewhat common he said, it even has a name; pica,“ he told his wife as he entered the living room. She sat on the couch she had once eaten, acting as if everything was perfectly normal. Brody’s head rested on her lap as she pet him.

           “I’m sorry. I just can’t help it. It’s like something comes over me and I can’t control myself.”

           “Well, honey. Please try. You could get very sick. You’re very lucky you haven’t gotten sick yet. The doctor said he’s had cases like this before, he said to try substitutes for the cravings. Like instead of dirt, try ground cookie crumbs,” he said cheerfully as he sat down next to her. Brody raised his head, irritated.

           “Ok. I’ll try it,” an appeasing smile formed on her lips.

           “I’m not mad. I’m just worried about you. And the baby,” he said pulling her into his arms. “It’ll be okay,” he reassured her. As he hugged her, she fingered the cushion behind his back.


           The next night John came home from work as usual. He found Abby cooking dinner, her apron tight against her round stomach.

           “Mmm, smells good. What’s for dinner?” He asked, feeling a semblance of normalcy he hadn’t felt since before she got pregnant.

            “I’m making a nice fall dinner. I love this time of year. Soups and stews. Everything pumpkin spice,” she said smiling at him. He opened the oven. “Wow biscuits too.” He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

           “Great job, babe. I can’t wait. I’ll take Brody for a walk while you finish and then we’ll enjoy this dinner.”

           “Brody, boy where are you?” he yelled as he clapped his hands for the dog. “Honey, have you seen Brody?”

           “He was in the backyard last I saw,” she said looking up from the stew. John went to the backdoor.       

           “The back gate is open! He must have gotten out,“ he yelled looking to Abby.

“Oh no,” she exclaimed.

That night they scoured the neighborhood, calling for Brody, asking the neighbors. There were no signs of Brody anywhere.

           “After dinner I’ll make fliers and post them to the telephone poles,” he said. “It’s ok. It’s not your fault. These things happen,” he said covering her hand with his. She gave him a sympathetic smile.

          

 After dinner John took the trash out. He flung the bag into the trashcan and as the lid closed something caught his eye. He reached in and pulled it out.

           “What? No. It can’t be,” he said to himself, beginning to panic. It was Brody’s collar. His heart banged against his chest. He ran inside.

           “Abby? What the fuck! What the fuck is this?” He screamed.

           “I’m sorry honey. I really am. I just couldn’t help it.”


A week later they welcomed a healthy baby girl and the cravings stopped. They never spoke of the incident again, and they became ‘cat people.’

September 26, 2020 15:12

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68 comments

Jill Davies
22:25 Oct 07, 2020

This story horrified me and I really am disturbed by it. I’m not sure I can forgive you even though I saw it coming from the beginning. That means you did your job with it. I hate to call it good (because I hated it) but the very fact that you got this reaction from me means it is. Do I regret reading it? Yes and no. But it needs something more— it’s too mundane at the beginning. Isolated incident or not something like that would forever change a couple. Maybe they’re together for the kid but he can’t look at her. Maybe it change...

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23:17 Oct 07, 2020

Thanks for reading and taking time to comment Jill. I see what your saying. Someone else said that as well so I’m gonna reworn it and see what I can come up with. Thanks again!!

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Jill Davies
23:27 Oct 07, 2020

I was so horrified that I almost didn’t, but I thought you deserved recognition for what you accomplished

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00:13 Oct 08, 2020

If you think that is unsettling try my story ‘Meatball’ if you get time. I tend to lean towards the obscure

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T. Rezy
15:34 Oct 07, 2020

The story is good, but it doesn't blow my socks off. It's very mundane, until it becomes ridiculous at the end, of course. I enjoyed the idea. Although It could have been executed better in my opinion. It seemed a bit lazzy to just make him find the collar conveniently in the trash. How did she go about killing the dog? But maybe that would be too explicit for reedsy. The fast pace focused on the dialog brings it to life and moves it along quickly, one different to my approach, and tends to appeal to people on the site. I felt it was one dim...

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16:28 Oct 07, 2020

Thank you T. for taking the time to read and your feedback. And yes I’ll be over there soon to read Magnolia.

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Onur Yürür
07:27 Oct 07, 2020

Amazing! Makes you reconsider the cat people you know :)

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12:29 Oct 07, 2020

Lol exactly. Thanks for reading Onur!

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Shaine Fayn
23:22 Oct 06, 2020

this was amazing!! something i'm going to be thinking about for a while haha

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00:04 Oct 07, 2020

Lol thanks Lia!

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Shea West
20:37 Oct 06, 2020

HA!! This gave me a good laugh. Honestly, when I pictured it in my head I could hear the wife's voice all robotic like, as if her programming was just broken or short circuited. But now, every time I hear someone say they are cat people....I'm gonna think of your story!

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00:06 Oct 07, 2020

Lol thanks again Cre’ shea!

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Bob Ivey
13:53 Oct 02, 2020

Thanks for liking my story "The Cabin."

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Thom Brodkin
21:57 Oct 01, 2020

What a wonderfully disturbing story. I am a little lost for words. You have such a gift for story telling and your ability to tell different kinds of stories every week is amazing. I am such a big fan of yours. If you’re not published yet, you will be soon. You’re that talented. Great job. Like I said, disturbing but great. If you could take a quick look at mine for this week I’d love your feedback. I’m hoping to do some edits while I still can.

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Maya W.
15:14 Oct 01, 2020

I'm laughing, and I know I shouldn't be, but I am, lol. This was so fun! What a great take on the prompt. What strong writing. Nice job. I wrote a few new stories recently, would you mind checking them out? Thanks!

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21:06 Oct 01, 2020

Thanks Maya !

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☆ Ariadne ☆
06:10 Oct 01, 2020

Nooo!!! Not the poor doggy!!! Sarah, you have one twisted mind. Seriously, I should have expected it after the meatball one, but nope, I was NOT ready for that twist. Seriously, I'm already a clean freak, not I shudder even harder at the sight of dirt. I NEVER want kids if it's going to come with a side dish of pica - sorry, no can do. That's nasty! Your writing is beautiful, but I could almost feel my dinner coming up. Ugh, that ending is giving me the creeps! ~Ria Mind checking out my stories? Thanks!

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11:46 Oct 01, 2020

Lol thank you Ria. Or should I say sorry. Yes and I’ll be there shortly to read

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K. Antonio
01:29 Sep 30, 2020

OH MY GOD! I was gagging thinking about her cooking up the dog. This was dark and twisted, but at the same time there was justifications. Pica exists, women get cravings. I was worried about her drinking detergent and forgot all about the dog till it was mentioned. I thought this was really creative and you took the prompt somewhere very unexpected and dark, and I love DARK! At the same time it's warm, there's a love and caring between the characters. I felt bad for the dog's demise, but the story was a treat on it's own. (And yes, I tr...

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A. S.
18:28 Sep 26, 2020

This story is so creative! How did you come up with that? And the twist at the end... gosh that was so good. When I first starting reading I did not expect how unsettling the story would become. Great job! Would you be willing to read my story “Thorns” and let me know what you think?

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18:54 Sep 26, 2020

Thanks A.S. And yes I'll be there shortly

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Ryan Mcwhorter
06:08 Oct 27, 2020

Damn, that's cold. Poor Brody.

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S Houette
16:45 Oct 08, 2020

This was so disturbing and yet so interesting. As you described each craving I was like huh... weird but acceptable I guess. Then you got to Brody going missing and I was like this cannot be where this is going... and... it went there. I will admit that this is not my kind of story but it held my attention and was extremely readable. Nice! Would you mind checking out my latest story "Of Soup and Spies"?

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Ryan Dupont
01:36 Oct 07, 2020

I loved it! Your story was very well written and well conceived (get it)😉. It had a great flow to it and it kept me very interested, beginning to end. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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Ola Hotchpotch
05:10 Oct 05, 2020

This is creepy. There are places where they eat dog meat. There must be places where they eat human children. It's all in the craving. How you eat is a different point .

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