Okay – this one has been hanging around long enough that it’s safe to say I am not going to go back to it. In case you’re curious I did warn my husband about it because I don’t want him to get too paranoid about my cooking.
“You are probably just waiting for me to die. You probably wouldn’t even call 911 until you were sure it was too late”
Bobbi loved to write. It was meditative for her to just type. She had been blogging for years as a way to release some of the normal stresses of life. One of her favorite hobbies was to write short stories, sort of. She would sometimes get pictures in her head. Random bits of nonsense that popped in with little rhyme or reason and sometimes when this happened the images would stick. She would spend days revisiting them and then building a story around the image. Then she would write the story. It wasn’t like a real story. Rarely was there a beginning and an end. It was more a snapshot of a few moments of a story.
Sometimes Bobbi would write these stories on her blog, but the darker ones, she kept private.
Bobbi was married to Matt. They had been married just a few years and to Bobbi it seemed like forever. Matt was not a nice man. He drank a lot, and he yelled a lot. The only thing that made life tolerable was that he also worked a lot. Bobbi had a lot of time in the apartment with just her and the baby.
Baby Nathan was the light of her life and the reason she was still around this town. When Matt and Bobbi had gotten married they had moved to this tiny little pissant of a place for Matt’s job. He was a supervisor in a automobile plant and when he was offered this promotion it meant leaving all of her friends and family and moving to a town with barely enough people to keep one pizza delivery place in business. Bobbi didn’t work because the only job she would have been able to find would have paid minimum wage at best and any income would have been eaten up by babysitter costs. So she was trapped.
One afternoon Matt was home after working sixteen hours the day before and he was in a foul mood. The meanness crackled off him if you stepped to close, so Bobbi was trying to just keep everything calm. She was sitting playing with the baby on the floor when she realized Matt had said something. She looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. What did you say?”.
Matt cocked his head and sliced into her with a cold look, “You are probably just waiting for me to die. You probably wouldn’t even call 911 until you were sure it was too late”.
Bobbi gasped a little. It was so unexpected. She smiled up at him and gave a little pretending he was just kidding laugh. How did a person even respond to someone who thought like that?
Later that night his words kept reverberating in her head. Would she? Would she actually hurry to the phone if something happened to him? It would be the perfect solution. If he suddenly clutched his chest and fell to the ground who would know how quickly she found him? It would be a tough couple of days but then she and baby Nathan would be free. Free to move out of this shithole of a town with it’s collection of closed minded ugly people. Free to laugh and play music and dance and just be happy again. She fell asleep that night with a smile on her face for the first time in quite a while.
She was startled awake by a loud noise. Maybe a bang or thump. She lay in bed listening to the apartment. She heard the baby in the crib over the monitor that sat inches from her, everything seemed fine. She realized Matt wasn’t in bed. He had probably gotten up to use the bathroom and kicked the door by accident. She listened but didn’t hear him. Nothing. His earlier words popped into her head. What if it was some weird precognitive statement and right now he was laying on the bathroom floor bleeding from his head after tripping and falling. Maybe slamming his temple on the corner of the vanity. She waited, listening. It seemed like minutes but it was probably just a few seconds before she heard him open the bathroom door. He was fine. She immediately realized she wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed. She closed her eyes as Matt climbed into the bed and wondered to herself, how long would she have waited?
Bobbi had been thinking about that day for weeks. It started out she just thought about how heartless of a person it made her, but then it began turning into something else. She would sit and think, fantasize, about all the different potential life-threatening situations Matt was in every day.
He drove fast, and paid little attention to what was going on with other people on the road. He worked in a factory with heavy machinery. She had never been there but she assumed there were many things that could cause serious injury with just a little error in judgement. He came from a long line of hard drinkers who lived on fat and salt, surely there were plenty of opportunities for hereditary stroke or fatal heart attack in his genetics?
What would she do if he died? Would she be surprised by how grief stricken she was? Would she play the part of a sad widow only out in public?
Her fantasies of her husbands last moments on earth started to take a different turn after he started talking about applying for another job in the company that would take them to yet another small factory town even further from her friends and family. Not once did he ask her what she wanted. That’s when she started thinking of ways to make one of her fantasies come true.
Writing had always been the thing that kept Bobbi sane. She had always written poems, short stories, essays on how she felt about things. Back when the world suddenly became accessible online she had begun blogging her writing. This was different though. She certainly couldn’t write about dreaming of ways for her husband to die. She knew Matt read everything even when he didn’t say anything, and she had learned as a child to never be honest about her feelings in print. That only lead to pain and punishment.
She tried writing anonymously on giant platforms that no one would possibly see but even then she worried so much that it didn’t give her the release she needed. One day she she wrote a poem about death and darkness but just before she posted it she changed all of the he’s to she’s, and put a note that she was following an online tutorial about expanding your writing skills.
After a few days she felt safe. She could see by the IP’s that Matt had read it, but he hadn’t said anything.
So she wrote another one, this time titling it ‘Assignment 2’.
“My love is dead, His time has come. No more pain, no more fear. My Love is dead”
She knew the day he read it because he was even more silent than normal and she kept catching him staring at her sideways. He didn’t say anything and it made her laugh. His ego would never allow him to bring up the little poem. He wouldn’t want to admit to her that he read it, or that it made him question.
She waited a week or so before she posted ‘Assignment 3’. It was a very short story about a woman who researched how to cause brake failure on a car. She purposefully did not do any research on how to actually do it. She wanted the story to seem implausible.
Assignment 4 was longer. It was about poison. A story about kids playing in a garden and accidentally killing themselves by having a tea party with tea they made from plants in their yards. She made sure that all of the plants mentioned were plants that could grow locally.
Bobbi started bringing home plants after that. Pretty flowers that were mentioned in her story. She put them in pots out on the balcony. Matt finally commented on her sudden interest in having a jungle on their balcony. She laughed and said she just needed to brighten the place up.
Inside she was laughing for a whole different reason. He was definitely making the connections between the stories and her actions. She also started cooking more vegetables. Big pans of sauteed vegetables with leafy greens inside. She made sure that his plate was ready for him when he got home so he wouldn’t see her serve them from the pan. She never put any poison in them of course, but he was not very enthusiastic about eating them.
Bacon grease was a staple in cooking for Matt. Bobbi started adding bacon to everything. She thought it would make her husband wonder, and she was right. He finally asked her why she was suddenly using so much bacon and she told him she really wasn’t. She was actually using just a little bit to add flavor without adding a lot of salt and other things that were unhealthy. She was doing this to make him healthier and live longer. He did not look completely convinced. Bobbi just smiled.
By the time ‘Assignment 5’ was written the balcony was almost impossible to sit on. Not just because of all the poisonous plants but there was also a large family of bees always buzzing around the flowers. Matt would sit in the living room with the television on but staring at the flowers on the balcony. He looked terrible. He was gaining weight, and all the grease from the bacon was making him sick. His skin looked absolutely waxy. Bobbi had begun adding lard and shortening to almost everything he ate. She would spread it on his sandwiches under a layer of mayo. She would mix it in with the butter he put on his corn on the cob. She was pretty sure it would take another 30 years to kill him this way but every little bit counts, right?
Assignment 5 was a Haiku.
He Slept Forever
A Bad Man who Spoke No More
Joy had Returned
Just seventeen little syllables but Bobbi could see that it nearly unraveled her husband. He was chewing antacids like a chain smoker popping nicotine gum.
A stranger effect of Bobbi’s game was that her husband was actually nicer to her. Not all the time, but when he came home from work he had started asking her how her day was and as an added bonus actually listening to what she responded. It was starting to make her feel powerful for the first time in a very long time.
One morning she was sitting on the bed sorting laundry while Baby Nathan rolled around in the pillows and she started hearing voices.There weren’t any neighbors in the nearest apartments and the television wasn’t on. Bobbi sat and tried to focus. She was starting to think she was going a little crazy. Maybe all this thinking about death was actually because she really wasn’t normal. It sounded like the voices were coming from under the bed. When she bent down to look under the bed the voices got much louder and she realized it was actually coming from in the bed.
She looked under the pillow and discovered her wireless ear buds were the culprit. She must have hit the button when she sat down and they had were now broadcasting the book she had been listening to earlier. It was just loud enough to get her attention but not loud enough to hear the words.
That’s when she had her next idea. That night when she heard Matt get up to use the bathroom she reached over and hit play on her phone. She had already queued up one of those sound tracks you play at Halloween parties. This one had a woman’s voice threatening to kill you. It was of course hidden very well in the bathroom inside a box of tampons under the sink. She hoped she got the volume right. Loud enough to hear when it was quiet but too soft to really be able to focus on it.
It got very very quiet as she lay there. She couldn’t hear Matt moving in the bathroom at all. She was starting to think the volume must have been too low and he never heard it when he came back in the bedroom. He didn’t say anything but when he got into bed he moved his pillow closer to her and pulled the covers up under his chin. It took everything in her to not laugh out loud.
She started playing different women’s voices through the earbuds every night. She even recorded some of herself chanting – die…die…die…. After the fifth night Matt stopped drinking after dinner, she assumed because he didn’t want to have to get up to use the bathroom. She kept the earbuds ready every night anyway, just in case.