Deadly reaction to too many rules!
|Author's note: This is for a contest. Constructive feedback is appreciated!|
Sarah stared at the note. The writing was crisp, each letter printed as it appeared above the blackboard in first grade. The fountain pen had flowed perfectly even: no blotches, no skips, no drips. Its deep blue ink embedded in the linen paper.
She fingered the paper. “Silky,” she said out loud. Those were Mark’s words the first time they made love, "Your skin is so silky." Like everything else about Mark, lovemaking was a precise undertaking. He studied all the moves, all the touches, and she learned all the appropriate responses. She thought how handsome he was with his dark hair, deep green eyes and dark coloring. Sarah figured there was some Italian in there somewhere, but he always denied it.
Their lives together flowed in and out of each day like an orchestrated puppet show. They rose together and each had a routine memorized by the other. Sarah ensured coffee was made, breakfast prepared and Mark out the door at 7:30 a.m. sharp. When he arrived home every evening at 5:30 p.m., she had his martini underway, the mail neatly laid out and dinner preparations for 7:00 consummation. She kept her blonde hair long and her figure trim, welcoming him home each evening in subdued, but flattering clothes.
The various rules Mark laid down contained their lives. Sarah was compliant, until today.
She dropped the note in the pocket of her flowered skirt and went out the back door, down the steps of the porch, and out onto the lawn still damp with dew. It chilled her bare feet. Her garden was her solace. She looked at it now, wondering if perhaps she had misjudged its world.
The peonies hung their big, deep red flowers heads as she wandered over. She bent and raised one to her nose to smell the cinnamon sweet fragrance. How did the peony know when to call the ants to remove the sticky substance on their buds? Did they work out a contract ahead of time? Once released, how did the bloom know how fast to open and when to turn on the perfume? Was there a prescription for this?
Two bees buzzed by and sought a flower. Sarah noted they were indecisive, dashed at one then another peony, circled her several times then disappeared. She remembered reading in a magazine that bees were very organized. Apparently, not today.
Sarah sat in the wooden swing between two towering oaks and considered the columbine in the adjacent bed, the wildest specimen of the garden. Last year she planted three. This year, a hundred babies scattered themselves among the adults. Next year, the babies would bloom. Should she pull them and neaten the garden? Or, were they suppose to be there by another set of rules? What if you asked the peony? What would it say? Wait for the ants?
Sarah walked back across the lawn, pulled the clippers out of her pocket and cut three bright red peonies. She smiled. Flowers were not permitted in the house. She climbed the back steps and entered the kitchen, immaculate in black and white. The linoleum gleamed in its checkered pattern. The white cabinets stood in stark contrast to the black granite counter. The refrigerator resembled a monolith from Easter Island. Sun streamed through the windows as though to cheer up the bleak landscape.
She laid the peonies on the white table. The blast of color amazed her and she stepped back. Was this what her life was like? A kitchen with no color?
Sarah sat at the kitchen table and looked down at her barely rounded belly. She had violated the most critical rule of all: Don't get pregnant. Not that it was intentional. She had taken all the precautions, but the doctor said he could not guarantee. Now, there was a big rule breaker right there.
She wondered if the child got a set of rules at conception and deliberately violated them. Did God pass out rules like DNA? Probably not. But, God had rules too, like the Ten Commandments, and they were violated all the time. So, if people violated those kinds of rules, why was she so bad?
Sarah pulled the note from her pocket. "I need a change, not a baby. I've found another woman. I'll pick up my things this afternoon." This was a definite rule violation. Her violation was not intentional. His was. Mark once said he loved her and promised to stay with her. She pulled a knife from the butcher block. Its black handle and silver blade made a perfect match for a perfect kitchen.
Sarah contemplated the alternatives. She could kill the baby in her womb. That would be messy and painful and she would likely die too. She knew it would be murder, or at least some people might think so. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ was in the Ten Commandments, but then so was ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ and, apparently, there was no penalty for adultery.
If she and the baby died, that would give Mark a change. Sarah smiled at the thought of him coming home and finding his wife and baby dead on the floor, all that nice red blood over everything. Maybe he would feel guilt. No. He was not the guilty type. Probably just be annoyed to have the police tramping in the house.
She drew figure eights in the air with the blade. All these broken rules and no way to fix them.
The front door opened.
“Sarah?” Mark called out. Sarah said nothing but slipped the knife under her skirt by her leg. He walked into the kitchen.
“You get my note?” He looked down his nose at her. Mark pulled off his suit jacket, dark blue, of course, hung it over a kitchen chair and loosened his tie.
"What about the baby?” Sarah looked up, her blue eyes wide in her pale face.
“What about it?”
“Don’t you want it?”
“Sarah, we went through this when you told me. We decided not to have kids and then you got pregnant. It’s a trust thing with me. I mean, I’ll never know what else you’ve done.”
“I’ve done everything you asked.” Sarah blinked back tears.
“Right. Look, just sign the paperwork my lawyer sends, and you can have the kid. You can have the house and plenty of money. No ties.” Mark turned and opened the refrigerator to get something to drink. “And get those flowers out of here. They have ants and are making a mess.”
Sarah rose behind him and lifted the knife, pointing the tip at her belly.
Mark looked back with a Coke can in his hand. “What the Hell are you doing?”
“I think the kitchen needs some color. Don’t you?” She pressed the tip of the knife into the folds of her skirt. “And I think the peonies are lovely. Red might look good in here.”
Mark stared at her then at the knife. “Sarah, put the knife down. My God, you have gone completely out of control.”
“Like you care?”
“Well, of course I care. Here, let me have that thing before you hurt yourself and make a mess in here.” Mark reached out, but Sarah backed up to the opposing cabinet.
“You’re worried about the mess? Here. I’ll make a little mess.” Sarah opened her palm and drew the blade across. She winced at the pain, then made a fist and let the blood drip on the floor, careful to hit a white tile.
Mark’s eyes widened in horror. “Are you crazy?”
“Possibly.” Sarah watched him stare at the spots gathering on the floor.
“Let me get something to clean that up.” He turned to the counter behind him and reached for the paper towels. He never saw the blade coming between his shoulder blades. Sarah wielded the butcher knife with all her strength and it sunk halfway in.
Mark turned in disbelief before he sunk to the floor, a resounding thud sounded as his head hit the linoleum. Sarah pulled the knife out of his lifeless body. Red blood pooled around.
“Told you the kitchen needed some color.”
Well, with so many rules broken already, what was one more?