– Fiction by Rochelle Angyal –
It was the first beautiful Sunday of spring. You know that smell the air gets when the sun finally comes out? That’s what that day was. Winter had been grueling. Not just the weather, but Ricky and I had been fighting too. The more it snowed, the more we screamed at each other. We fought about money usually; we just couldn’t seem to get ahead. Ricky was taking extra shifts at the plant and I was making some extra cash by altering the church dresses that belonged to the old ladies of the neighbourhood. We were exhausted.
But things were starting to look up. We’d finally caught up on bills and were starting to resume our normal work schedules. The fights became fewer and far between, and soon, we liked each other again. I was so happy. It seemed that as the Toronto streets thawed, so did all the pain and resentment. I’d been looking for a way to reconnect, things were getting better but we still had a ways to go. We needed to “get that spark back” as they say. I wanted to go on vacation but knew that we couldn’t afford that, so I decided that on the first nice Sunday, I would suggest that we go for a drive.
And then it was here. My golden opportunity, the perfect day. I suggested my plan to Ricky, and he kind of shrugged. I’ll admit that I was hoping for a better reaction, but I knew that once he got outside, he’d enjoy himself. I was so jittery as I got ready. I’d spent weeks making a new dress for the occasion, a collared shirt dress that flared at the bottom in a beautiful buttery yellow. I carefully put in the pearl earrings Ricky had given me last Christmas, back when we loved our Christmases. I wondered if he would notice, but that was unlikely. I looked like spring personified. I was ready to show Ricky that our marriage could be new again, just like my dress, just like the spring. I grabbed a couple cokes from the fridge and we headed out to the car. It took me a moment to realize that Ricky had cleaned the car. He’d cleaned the car! Our 1954 Mercury Monterey that we bought new 2 years ago was gleaming. That must have meant he wanted this to be special too. That meant he had to care, right? I think he even shampooed the floor mats. The jitters came back with a vengeance now, but I was excited too. We climbed in the car and were off.
I have no idea how long it’d been since I was last out of the city; it felt so good. I could tell that Ricky was happy too. The windows were down, and the sun was beaming onto our faces and into our laps. My dress must have caught Ricky’s attention because I caught him stealing glances in my direction. My heartbeat quickened at the thought of our “spark” returning. I needed this. I needed him. I forget what we were talking about, but we were laughing. I was humming along to Tony Bennett on the radio; I always loved him, so romantic.
And then, it happened. It happened so quickly that I barely had time to register, let along react. I reached to take a sip of my coke, and the bottle slipped right out of my hand. The sweet drink drenched Ricky’s freshly cleaned floor mat.
“Oh, shoot!” I was looking for a napkin to dry it up, but I didn’t get the chance to find anything. Ricky lost it. I don’t know what happened. I think he might have just snapped. I tried to reason with him. It was a dark drink on a black floor mat, what was the big deal? We would just rinse it off when we got home, it didn’t have to ruin our day, our fresh start. Please don’t let it ruin our fresh start, I silently pleaded. Who was I asking… Ricky? God? I wasn’t sure. Ricky kept screaming.
“Ungrateful…hard work…trying…bitch…” I didn’t catch everything he said. I was so shocked by what was happening that I never fully tuned in, not really. I finally managed to ask him to pull over. When I said it, it was so meek sounding that I barely heard myself. I needed to think, to regroup. My perfect day was absolutely ruined, that was for sure. But what about Ricky and me? Could we still be saved? I couldn’t figure that out while he was on this rampage. I needed to step away.
He did eventually pull over, and I got out of the car. The ground was soft and mucky, but I didn’t give a damn about my shoes at this point. I heard Ricky get out of the car too. Could we make this work? He was still yelling. Did I want this to work? I saw the shadows of Ricky’s arms flailing behind me.
“What are you doing? KAREN! Where are you going? Get back in the car!” I ignored him. I rubbed my face, trying to soothe the headache that came crashing into my brain. Suddenly, I was whipped around, Ricky’s hands on my shoulders. He must have jogged a bit to catch up to me, but I didn’t hear him. His yelling was deafening. I realized then that I was afraid. Afraid of this man that I thought loved me. His right hand slammed into my face, accompanied by a blinding pain. I was stunned. He shoved me to the ground. I think I cried out, asked him to stop, told him I’d go with him. I think that’s what I said. Anyway, none of it worked.
The butter yellow of my new dress was now marled with dirt. I tried to get up, but the wind was completely knocked out of me. I’d made it up onto my elbows when Ricky knelt down. I could see the rage in his face still, but I thought that maybe he had come to his senses. I was just about to say something. What was I going to say? When the palms of his hands made contact with my shoulders again, pushing me back to the ground. His left hand moved to my throat. His grip wasn’t hard enough to completely cut off my airway, but it was hard enough that I didn’t dare move. I think I started to cry. He put his weight on his knees and used his other hand to bunch my formerly pretty dress up at the waist. His right hand never left my throat, and I think I kept crying. I was struggling to breathe. As he was on top of me, violating me, I had no where to look except right at the face of the man I once loved.
And I couldn’t help but think that he looked like he’d got his spark back.
When Ricky was done, his body lay limp on mine for a few moments. Lifting his head, he studied my face. What was he looking for? I wondered if it was over.
I knew what I was going to do – I was going to get up, pretend like everything was fine, and go straight to the lawyer tomorrow morning. It would mean social suicide for me, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to spend any more time with this man who called himself my husband. Ricky’s face relaxed just slightly, and he sat up, straddling me. He looked around for a moment while I wondered if I could stand. He started to shift his weight off me, and I thought he was getting up. Instead, he reached for something I couldn’t see. In the next moment, the afternoon sun was blocked by a dark, round object. I had a split second to register that it was rock before Ricky slammed it into my temple with a force I had never felt before then. Someone screamed in the distance. Who was that? Ricky covered my mouth with his free hand. The rock hit me again and again. The woodland surrounding us grew dark, and then there was nothing.
When I was good and dead, Ricky stopped. The rock he held was covered in warm, thick blood and he dropped it onto my stomach. It rolled off me onto the ground, leaving a smear of blood on my beautiful dress. Ricky sat beside me and cried for a while. Who knows whether he was crying for the loss of his wife, or out of fear for his freedom. Gaining some composure, he dragged my body deeper into the soggy woods. Afterwards, he drove back to our home, alone. He cleaned the coke off the floor mat, sat down on our front porch and had six bottles of beer while the sun set. Once night had come and the streets were quiet, Ricky loaded a shovel into the backseat of our gleaming Mercury and came to find me in the woods.
He spent a long time digging that hole, my final resting place. It sure was different from the plots we had purchased for ourselves a couple years back. Who would sleep in mine now? Once he was done digging, he rolled my stiff body into the unceremonial hole and filled me in.
Ricky told the neighbours that I up and left, that he wasn’t sure where I went. He told them we’d been fighting a lot. It was a good tale, actually. The neighbours had been hearing us fight for months. Eventually, my “abandonment” was old news. Some nice little flowers bloomed around me.
About the Author – Rochelle Angyal
Rochelle Angyal is a writer and marketer from Ontario, Canada. She spends her time making, and apologizing for, inappropriate jokes – usually involving curse words.
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