A woman's excruciating physical pain affects her outcome
“No, I’ve already bought all of this fruit—no, Honey! I’m not making that. I already told you—alright—okay, whatever, I suppose I can whip it up for you before we have to leave,” Francine said to her husband on the telephone. “I’ll see you then—.” She hung up and got started on the dishes. Now, not only did she have to prepare a huge fruit salad for the banquet, she also had to make Bruce a batch of venison stew, all in an hour’s time.
Francine took out a wooden cutting board from the cupboard, pulled a paring knife from the butcher’s block, and placed them down on the counter beside the fruit. Suddenly, she was interrupted by the telephone ringing again.
“What is it now, Bruce?” Francine answered, expecting her husband had forgotten something.
“I just thought you should know, your husband is sleeping with your best friend,” a low voice declared on the other end of the line.
“Who is this?” Francine asked, but the caller had already hung up.
She dropped the phone and stood quietly holding an orange. She began to slowly peel bits of skin from the fruit, as she thought about the caller's message.
How could Kelly do this to her? Francine felt fury building inside of her as she began to piece the facts together. The late nights, their glances she caught from across the room… there were so many. It was true; the caller was telling the truth. Her best friend had betrayed her. Francine took out a package of venison from the refrigerator and tore it open. As she dumped the bloody meat into the large stock pot on the stove, wicked thoughts cultivated her mind. She thought about the Winchester 308 she’d killed the deer with up North in October. It had felt good in her hands; she’d reveled in the rush of the trigger’s powerful shot that took down the eight point buck, right between his eyes. Francine knew she wouldn’t miss if she aimed it at that bitch. She decided it would be too quick and not painful enough for such a traitor.
Francine’s head pounded with rage. She paced the kitchen floor and then reached for a bottle of Motrin. She popped a handful of pills into her mouth and chased them down with a glass of orange juice. I could poison her, she thought, but then dismissed the idea quickly, realizing Kelly would just fall asleep peacefully; again without suffering as she so deserved. She stepped toward the bowl of fruit and grabbed another orange. She picked up the knife and took slow, calculated slices. She held the fruit firmly with her left hand, and her anger peeked. “That stupid whore!” she screamed as she stabbed into the fruit over and over again, letting the juice squirt and run all over her gripping hand; until her final, most violent stab pierced her hand, slicing open the skin between her thumb and fore finger. The sting of the sharp blade's stab was instantly accelerated by a burning rush of citrus acid, eating at her raw, oozing flesh. Francine dropped the knife and clenched her left wrist, howling in agonizing pain. For a moment, she knew nothing but this great pain, unable to exhale.
She had never felt such agony before, not even during labor; that was anguish she’d endured stoically—with Kelly’s help. Kelly was there for Francine, day and night, taking care of her physically and emotionally after her baby died.
Francine ran to the sink and cranked the faucet handle. She dipped her throbbing, bleeding hand into the cold stream of relief. She wrapped her hand in a dish towel and slithered to the floor, sobbing.
As the blood seeped through the towel, she thought about Kelly. Kelly had been there for her through everything; she was like a sister to her. Francine knew she would never want Kelly to suffer the kind of pain she had just endured. Her thoughts drifted to Bruce. Where was he when I was in the hospital? He was passed out next to some dame of the week, that’s where.
Francine bandaged her hand neatly and carefully. She finished preparing the fruit and, then, waited for her husband to return home.
Six months later….
The shallow tone of the national news brief resonated from the cook’s radio inside the kitchen of a rural, Alaskan diner:
In other news, there are still no arrests in the brutal torture and murder of a Florida man, who suffered multiple stab wounds nearly seven months ago. He was found dead in his home, covered in blood and citrus acid. The weapons, a paring knife and several compressed Florida-grown oranges were found at the scene. The suspect, a 32-year old, blonde-haired, blue-eyed female, is still at large. The chief investigator, Sgt. Bill Gerard, had this to say, “We will know more once we bring in the wife, but this- this has to be the most horrific torture a victim could suffer.”
And, now, Harry has your weather update…
In the back corner of the tiny diner, a dark haired woman occupied a booth. She took one last sip of her Tropicana, savoring the sweet juice. She stood and slapped a Jackson down onto the dirty table before the waitress had returned with her check. She pulled the wool over her head, and she stepped back out, into the cold.
Honorable Mention Winning Entry in the Writer's Cramp contest on 2 Feb 2008
Prompt of the day was to write a story about the worst physical pain you or your character ever experienced