The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
She didn’t mean to kill him. She just needed a break from the insanity.
It started with the house. The fucking house she fell in love with, that she practically begged Jack to buy. They weren’t even looking for a new house, but while driving around on vacation in Massachusetts, they happened upon a little coastal town called Marblehead.
And then she saw it – an old house, but well-kept, with obviously new paint. And it was for sale! An open house was happening at that moment. Ally yelled at Jack to stop the car and she ran inside before Jack even knew what was going on.
A few days later papers were signed and the house was theirs; Ally beyond excited, Jack in a daze.
But after they packed up their house and moved, Jack became just as excited. He claimed the attic room as his office because of the walk-out balcony with a view of the ocean.
“Ally, come here!” Jack yelled.
“I’m unpacking in the kitchen – can’t it wait?”
“No, I have to show you this!”
Ally mumbled under her breath and went up to the attic room. Jack had papers spread out on his desk with books to hold them down.
“I found these in the closet. They were rolled up, leaning in a corner. They seem like antiques, so I don’t think the former owners left them. Probably someone who lived here a long time ago.”
“What are they?”
“Old nautical charts and maps. I looked them up on Google. And I also found out something really cool – you know the walk-out balcony over there? It’s a widow’s walk. A lot of the houses around here have them. Women would stand on them, looking out to sea, waiting for their fishermen husbands to come home. Many times, they wouldn’t.”
“That’s sad. But cool find, sweetie. I need to get back to unpacking.”
“Hey, want to do something fun and crazy, Ally?”
“You mean something more fun and crazy than sitting on the living room floor surrounded by boxes and eating pizza?”
“Let’s pretend that we are living in this house in the 1800s.”
“What do you mean?”
“You go out on the widow’s walk, and I’ll wave at you from the shore, like I’ve just come home.”
“Oh, that actually sounds a little romantic.” Ally smiled at Jack. “Sure, why not?”
Later, they celebrated their “reunion,” and fell asleep happy and sated.
But while Ally thought it was fun that one night, Jack became obsessed. After work he would study the nautical charts, and research the lives of the fishermen who used to reside in the town. He would talk about it all non-stop during dinner, barely letting Ally talk about her work day.
“I mean, I get that kids are scared of getting vaccinations, but this one kid just slapped my arm when I approached him—”
“Hey, did you know that lobster used to be so plentiful that it was considered food for poor people?”
“Here in New England. Lobsters weren’t considered as delicious as they are now.”
Ally glared at Jack. “Jack, I was trying to tell you about my day. What do I care about lobsters?”
“It was a fact I discovered before dinner. I thought it was interesting.”
“I thought you would care that I was slapped by a kid today.”
“Doesn’t that pretty much happen to nurses ever y day?”
“I’m going back upstairs for a while.” Jack got up from the table and kissed Ally’s cheek. “Great dinner, hon.”
Ally stared at him as he walked away.
He was a man possessed and trying to take her with him.
“Hey, Ally! Look at this.” He held up an antique dress. “I found it in a consignment shop. You can go on the widow’s walk again tonight and be authentic this time.”
“Are you kidding me? I’m not wearing that, and I’m not going out on the balcony again. Look, Jack—”
“It’s a widow’s walk, not a balcony. You should know that by now, Mrs. Muir.” He laughed at his joke as Ally looked at him in disbelief.
“This is insane. You are not a ghost captain and I am not Mrs. Muir. Can you please take a break from this shit and come back to this century?”
“It’s just harmless fun. You know I hate working at that accountant’s office. This lets me blow off a little steam, exercise my imagination.”
“Fine. But I am not putting that dress on. I have a book I want to read in the tub, then go to bed early since I have a long shift tomorrow. I’m exhausted as it is from today.”
Jack shrugged and went into the kitchen. “I’m making tea,” he called. “Would you like some?”
“No, thank you. I’m going to have some wine.”
A few minutes later Jack took his tea up to his office. Ally got wine out of the fridge, then put it back.
“God damn it. I am so tired of this.” She knew he would wake her up when he got to bed, hoping to continue his fantasy of coming home to a forlorn and lonely wife. She just wanted him to sleep.
She went into their master bathroom and took a small vial of morphine out of the medicine cabinet that she had administered to Jack after his gall bladder was removed.
Ally waited until she heard him go into the bathroom next to his office, then quietly ran up the stairs. She opened the vial and used the dropper to put some in his tea, relying on her memory to use the proper dose. She heard the toilet flush and ran back downstairs again. She got the bottle of wine from the fridge again, grabbed a glass, and headed for the tub in their master bath.
Ally woke up and peered at the digital clock on her nightstand. Jack hadn’t come to bed yet, and it was almost 2:30am. She thought the morphine would make him drowsy and he would come to bed earlier tonight.
“I am so done with this. With him. With this fucking house.” Ally mumbled angrily to herself as she walked up to the attic.
Jack’s head was on the desk, his arms stretched across it. Saliva dribbled from his open mouth.
Gross. “Jack, wake up and come to bed.” She shook his shoulder. His body lolled back and forth. Oh, shit. “Jack! Jack, wake up!” She pulled him up off his desk using his shirt. His body fell against the back of the chair, then slipped to the floor.
“I’m sorry, Jack! I didn’t mean for this to happen.” Ally sobbed and kneeled beside him, smacking him on his face, hoping he would wake up. But she knew he wouldn’t.
Ally knew what she needed to do. She stood up and grabbed Jack’s cell phone off the desk. She called the local police, letting them know she accidentally killed her husband. She was about to go downstairs to wait for them, but spied the antique dress draped on the other office chair.
She put it on, and walked out onto the widow’s walk one last time.
Fiction © Copyright Sheri White
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Sheri White:
Sacrificial Lambs and Others is Sheri White’s first collection. From quiet horror to bloody violence, these flash fiction pieces and short stories are chilling and emotionally visceral. You will find people teetering on the brink of sanity, dark farms, creepy carnivals, weird kids, and Armageddon. These stories will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.