Because some of you asked for it, here is the combined story of betrayal and revenge. Let me know what you think!
Walking down the village lane, the smell of hay brought it all back. Their summers spent on the farm, the warm afternoons in the hayloft, their moans the only sound disturbing the mice. Anne shook her head at the long ago memory; at their folly, his hay fever, the sneezing.
She stepped up her pace to reach the pharmacy, not wanting to keep her husband waiting and make him crosser than he had been lately. Jason’s allergies had been bothering him this week. She hurried to him, taking his arm with a swift kiss on his cheek. Eyes red-rimmed and weepy, he cursed the hay truck as it passed.
“Damn hay – gets me every time” he said, sneezing loudly.
Suddenly, she knew where he’d been that afternoon. Suddenly, she knew.
“Let’s stop by the school on our way home. I meant to bring home some lab reports to grade.”
He grumbled, not wanting to miss his show on TV. She assured him there was time. They walked up the lane toward the old school house, hand in hand like the old days. Anne’s eyes sparkled with energy and purpose. She patted his shoulder as they entered the classroom.
“I’ll just be a minute, dear.” Wearily, he folded his long body into the chair. He turned toward the window, scanning the playground, wild poppies coming into bloom along the edge. The old school bell hung silent, its frayed rope at rest.
“It’s a lovely day, isn’t it, sweetheart?” Anne rifled through papers at her desk.
“Yes, lovely. I quite enjoyed it, actually.” Jason smiled slyly to himself, remembering.
“I’m glad, dear.” Malice laced her words, and as Jason turned back toward Anne, she struck the first blow. With each downswing of the fire extinguisher came an accusation, tapping into the years of denial their marriage had required. The dam broken, there was no going back. Anne kept hitting him in her rage, stopping only as he slumped in the chair. Urgently, she gathered her papers, cleared away any evidence of her presence and opened the acid drip on the chemicals she’d set beneath, knowing their volatility.
Striding away, Anne imagined him there, slowly coming to, eyelids scraping like sandpaper as he struggled to see clearly. Head throbbing, he’d evaluate his situation. Tied to a chair, towel stuffed in his mouth, trapped. She hoped his memory would clear enough to remind him of his transgressions: his betrayals, her revenge complete.
She wondered if he’d try to reach the school bell and call for help. He could try rocking the chair forward, slowly, oh so slowly, inching his way to it. Anne felt the fear as it would prickle along the back of his neck; he would by then recognize the smell of smoke and know hope was lost.
Smiling as she passed the fire station, Anne heard the explosion and the following siren. They would not arrive in time. And she would be long gone before they were able to identify him.
© Erin Leary