Monday, November 16, 2009

WOW! Summer Fiction Contest - Honorable Mention

So, after winning 2nd Place in the first WOW Short Fiction Contest, I decided to try again during the summer contest. I just found out I won Honorable Mention in this one! Whooohoo! I am very excited. Enjoy the story below!! Thanks for Reading! ~Laurel

Rat Trap

I struggled to think of an answer to his question as rows of sweat dripped down my chest underneath my shirt. The air was sticky with grime. He was supposed to change that damned fuse in the basement, but of course, he didn’t. Now the air conditioner was out. I swear, worryin’ over that ancient fuse box was gonna be the death of me. One day soon, I’d have a new one put in - a real snazzy one where ya had a switch to flip instead of screwing in fuses.

The blast of cold air cooled my face as I put the lemonade back in the fridge. He rocked back and forth on the hind legs of his chair as I set the glass in front of him. His eyes followed me across the table.

“So?” he asked again, his chair landing with a thud. “Would you do it? I mean, if you thought you’d never get caught? Could you kill someone?” He squinted, waiting for my answer. Looking away, I wondered if his question was a coincidence. I choked on that thought as I went over my actions in my head. I had been so careful hiding the evidence.

He took a long sip of his sugary pink lemonade. I hated that stuff. Ironically, it was so icky-sweet that he’d never even notice I’d mixed it with half a box of rat poison.

My first instinct had been to attack him with my endless questions about her. About them. But confrontation would have been too easy for him. He would have been ready with remorseful lies and promises to “do better.” Men were all the same, either bullies or cheats. I had learned my lesson, time to teach him his.

“Now sugar, what kind of question is that to ask your lovin’ wife?” I pushed a strand of sticky hair behind my ear and forced the same devoted smile onto my lips that I had been showing for weeks – the mad weeks since I had discovered them.

He didn’t answer, just stared at me same as I stared at the sweat beads drippin’ down his glass. The chaotic rows shimmered when the sunlight caught them just right. Each strand of liquid diamonds dribbled down the glass to the table, leaving a puddle around the base. The clock ticked. He breathed. The chair creaked again. My mind burned with frustration as I tried to decide if he actually knew. He took another long swig, finishing it off. The ice clinked to the bottom of the glass, sounding a lot like justice.

Shouldn’t be long now.

His eyes twitched. My forehead clenched in anticipation, damp with the same sweat beads tricklin’ down his glass. All his bulging muscles trembled and his breathing hitched. I stood up and leaned across the table as the poison spread through his body. I moved close enough to whisper in his ear.

“Darlin’, to answer your question, guess I would do it. As long as no one would find out.” I dug into my pocket and pulled out two pieces of paper. I slid the Quick-Crete label across the table so he’d know my intentions. “And it would have to be for a really good reason,” I added, waving the photograph of them in front of his face to make my point. The flicker of understanding flashed in his eyes just before he slumped over in his chair. I waited a few seconds to make sure it took.

Gone at last. It was time to celebrate.

I searched the cupboard for the fancy bottle of champagne – a sparking memory from our wedding – that I had been savin' for a special occasion. I popped the cork and took a long gulp right out of that twelve-dollar bottle. I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. The heat was almost more than I could stand. I took another swallow before I decided to finish his job in the basement.

As I removed the dead fuse, something scurried across my feet. Thinking it was our cat Whisper, I glanced down. To my utter horror, a value-sized rat looked back at me. I jumped forward and felt a sharp electric jolt as my hand slipped into the bare fuse socket.

Dying by electrocution didn't take long, but it was just long enough for me to believe in karma. Rats!

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