Her head hit the shower door hard and she slumped onto the cold tile floor. He slammed the door behind him with a bang without looking at her or saying a word. Enough had already been said. Blood dripped down her cheek and she licked the droplet as it reached the corner of her lips. Warm and metallic tasting.
She heard the crackling noise and looked up. A dozen cracks crept from the spot of impact, creating a spider web across the glass. Fascinating. She shifted into a more comfortable position and waited patiently. Even the slightest sound would bring him back in a renewed rage.
She could hear him moving throughout the small house. Stomping down the hallway, cracking a beer, turning on the television. It was his nightly routine after dinner. Within the hour he’d be asleep in the recliner and wake shortly after midnight when the TV station went off the air and the Star Spangled Banner played against a waving American flag. He’d give a salute before heading to their bed where she would pretend to be asleep. He considered himself patriotic.
She counted to 1,000 seven times, making a hash mark on the still-steamy shower door each time. The shower door was the cause of the anger tonight. She forgot to wipe it down after he had come home from work and bathed. When he finished using the toilet after dinner he exploded into the kitchen, hurling words like knives, each one stabbing her in the heart. He had drug her roughly by the arm into the bathroom to show her the scene of her most recent failure. It was her fault; she had foolishly tried to explain that she’d get to it after the dishes where done.
She was safe to leave the bathroom now. She moved stealthily, careful not to make a sound. Her normal routine was to tidy up, get in her nightgown and slip between the covers. She tiptoed to the prone form, watching him sleep. Mouth opened and snoring like a freight train, he looked haggard. Not at all like the dashing insurance salesman who had knocked on her parents door two years ago. They had fallen instantly in love and were married within three months. She smiled, reliving the good times before he started drinking.
She poked him gently, quickly stepping out of reach in case he awoke. No reaction. She poked harder. Still nothing. The little smile on her lips became a big grin.
She cleaned the kitchen out of habit, taking the bottle of sleeping pills from the back of the spice rack, and dead-bolted the back door before locking the front door as well. The lawnmower gas can in the garden shed held enough fuel to trail a thick stream around the house.
She stood on the sidewalk in her house dress and matching kitten heeled slippers with perfectly coiffed hair. She pulled a cigarette from the silver case in her handbag, lit it with a Bic lighter and took a deep drag. With a flick of her wrist, her home, husband and horror went up in flames.
Written for To Live & Write in Alameda’s October Flash Fiction Challenge #2, “Spider in the Shower.” We had three days to write a 500 word short story and share with our group. In November we will vote on “Best Short Story” across the competition for prizes!
If you have a writer’s soul and live in Alameda, please join our group! No experience necessary … members range from those who dream of writing the Great American Novel to published authors. No dues, many free daily/weekly meet-ups, reasonably priced workshops and focus groups and retreats, and tons of encouragement and support.
Here’s the link: To Live and Write in Alameda.