They Knew Their Marriage Was Ending But They Didn’t Expect It To End This Way


She was unhappy, that much for sure.

Her face was pale, splotchy, eyes puffy and red-rimmed from crying. They’d been fighting. It was a strange sort of ebb and flow, a period of peace followed by an all-out screaming match. Just when things seemed to be calming down they would spark up again, as though their marriage cycled from too-dry kindling to a blazing inferno, over and over again. No relief for either of them.

It had started when he got the first promotion. He worked hard, sure he did, and the promotion was his reward. But then he started going in to the office earlier, staying there late. When he did come home, he was utterly exhausted, unable to do anything but scarf down the cold meal she’d left for him on the dinner table and collapse in bed. Meanwhile, she was on the couch, staring blankly at the television, as consequential to him as the piece of furniture she rested on.

She did her best… for a while. Waited for him to maybe cut back on his hours a little. Kept making dinner even though it was congealed and lumpy by the time he got there. Ignored the fact that they hadn’t been intimate in months.

It’s not just men who have needs, you know? Women, when left untouched, they grow cold, like a thin sheen of frost has spread across their skin.

Some women, they let this frost sink in and freeze their hearts, their blood. Not her. She’d always been a fighter. And that’s why she started calling her lawyer.

Not for a divorce, no, she loved him fiercely and could never let him ago, but this could not go on. She could not allow herself to turn to ice like her mother, her grandmother. She would keep herself warm when he would not.

So she called her lawyer, a sleek young thing with thick black hair she’d always admired, longed to run her fingers through. She was plain in her language and very clear about what it was she wanted from him. And her lawyer, the sleek young thing, was happy to provide.

It went on for a few months. She was disappointed in herself, while at the same time satisfied, unfrozen — it was what she needed, the warmth, the touch, but she loved her husband fiercely and even as she screamed in pleasure she knew what she was doing was wrong. And yet… it happened again. And again.

Until one day her husband came home early. He’d received the bonus he was working so hard towards, arrived cheerily with the check in his hand and a smile on his face. At least, for the sake of stereotypes, he didn’t have flowers and champagne.

He grabbed the lawyer by his thick black hair and dragged him out of bed with a fury that seemed to surprise both of them. The sleek young thing barely had time to get one leg into his pants before her husband was after him, shoving him out of the house, throwing his leather wingtips at him as he stumbled down the stairs. The lawyer yelped when one of the shoes hit him in the face.

She cried. She begged. She pleaded with him to understand that he had left her alone for so long, she was as cold as the dinners he left half-eaten on the table.

He cried, too. He reminded her that all this had been for her. He sat down on the kitchen floor and held his head in his hands, distraught beyond words.

She sat on the floor, too, and they remained there for a long time.

At last, he told her in a voice that was so calm it was almost eerie, that he was glad she liked lawyers because he’d be taking her to court. He was going to clean her out, he said. Take her for everything, which wasn’t much, but like hell if she’d get even a cent of his hard-earned money.

And even while she wept, reaching for him, pleading for him to reconsider, telling him how much she loved him, he slammed the bedroom door and locked it.

Well, it’s not all that hard to unlock doors, now is it? Depending on the year of the house, it might be one of those stick deals, or a skeleton key, or even just a credit card to wiggle the thing open. No, it’s not that hard at all.

He sleeps on his stomach so it wasn’t hard, either, to take him by surprise. Plunge the blade into his back again, and again, and not stopping until the anger was gone. Not stopping until the rage finally lessened, until the bed was soaked with blood and he had stopped his useless flailing.

That was it, then. That solved the problem. Right?

So then why is she crying? Why is she down there in that bedroom, weeping helplessly over his prone body? He’s the one who hurt her, after all, he’s the one who left her behind to be cold and frigid and wanted to punish her simply for keeping herself warm.

It’s not fair. And it’s upsetting to watch her humiliate herself like this, covered with his blood, phone slipping from her hand because she’s so soaked in it.

I did my best, I suppose. I tried to help. All these months spent watching their marriage fall apart, piece by piece, waiting for my moment to strike. To help her. But now she’s gone and ruined it, when the police arrive she’s going to look like the one who did this and now I can’t help her.

I guess I’ll just wait in the attic until someone else moves in.