The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Tiffany Michelle Brown
As was their new custom, Ronnie had beat Susan to bed. He lay atop their midnight blue comforter in pajama pants and a worn T-shirt, his eyes half-closed, his body cutting a fine impression into the mattress. Susan thought he looked peaceful.
She wasn’t sure she liked this new arrangement. Over the years, Ronnie had proven to be a night owl and Susan, an early evening bedbug. Her husband’s newfound stillness was unsettling; she was used to him puttering about well into the early hours of the morning. But, Susan reminded herself, people change. Circumstances change. She simply needed to get used to it.
And truly, it wasn’t all bad. Since she and Ronnie now had quality time together before bed, she’d taken to reading aloud from her favorite classic, Jane Eyre. Ronnie had yet to complain about the old-timey language, so Susan figured he was enjoying himself, even if he wouldn’t admit it.
Susan climbed into bed and rubbed lavender-scented lotion into her arms. She found the scent refreshing and calming, and it helped her get to sleep most nights.
Susan procured her worn copy of Jane Eyre from her bedside table and flipped open the brittle pages to where she’d left off the night before. She’d begun using the rose Ronnie bought her a week earlier as a bookmark, which Susan found incredibly romantic—despite the circumstances under which Ronnie had bought the flower.
It was meant to be an apology. It hadn’t worked.
But Susan didn’t want to think about that night. It seemed so very long ago. And reflecting on the past wouldn’t let her move into her new future. Their new future.
Susan’s voice, steady and warm, read the words of Charlotte Brontë as Ronnie lay beside her—not just dead to the world, but dead in all respects, as he had been for days now.
At the close of the chapter, Susan sighed happily, replaced the book, and turned out the light.
The weight of Ronnie’s body beside her was comforting, as it always had been, though the weight was cold and starting to smell a tad unpleasant. But, Susan thought, it could be worse. So much worse.
She was convinced somehow, as she drifted off to dream of their argument—the one that ended so badly and that she revisited in REM night after night—that this new life of theirs wasn’t so bad.
She’d get used to it. It would just take time.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com