35

ALLISON LAID HER head back down on the pillow. She had not found the will to get out of bed since this morning, when she heard Daniel leave for work without so much as stepping foot into their bedroom. Last night she returned home in low spirits, only to discover him asleep in the guest room. It was no surprise to her that he wanted to be left alone after their clash from yesterday, as she too needed time to get over yet another deception dumped on her made worse by his self-condemnation. Judging by how things went in the past, she expected a quiet house for the next couple of days.

Even after she got up to get ready, this steady weight hanging on her chest as she dwelt on everything about her depressing marriage, and the work needed to mend it, never went away. Makeup seemed useless, since the mascara did little to brighten her downcast eyes and the lovely pink blush her sad cheeks. The red lipstick was meant for that final touch to a perfect look but it hardly covered up her dull mood. Even that sophisticated black dress looked dreary on her for once. With time, the meeting with Ed grew to be more of an obligation than anything else.

When five o’clock came around, she was basically sulking about going but grabbed her purse anyway and headed for the door, until an unexpected call stopped her in her tracks. It was from Daniel. She cleared her throat and answered it.

“Hello.”

“Hey.”

No one spoke for a moment, and then Daniel continued, “How are you?”

“Could be better… You?”

“Same.”

There went another break.

“Allie?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s going on? What are you doing?”

“I was just about to go out for dinner. With Sara.”

“I see. But you are still home?”

“Yes. Where are you? What’s all that noise in the background?”

“I’m on the highway. Listen — I’m sorry —”

She almost did not believe her ears.

“— I’ve been thinking about everything that happened.”

“You mean about yesterday?”

“Yesterday and also the past couple of months. The thing is, we need to talk.”

“About?”

“About us, of course. Don’t you think we should talk over our situation, solve things out between us once and for all?”

“Right. I agree.”

“Good. Well, I’m on my way home. I should be there in fifteen minutes. Just calling to give you a heads-up.”

“Okay. I’ll be here.”

“You don’t have to wait for me. We can do this after you get back from your dinner.”

“I know but, I would like to see you before I go.”

“Alright. As long as that’s fine with you, I’ll see you soon…”

His initiative to break the vicious cycle of their blame game was tremendous. Allison might still be upset but she sensed it diminishing. Going along with his endeavor, for what it was worth, she planned on being completely honest with him, and wherefore telling him just how she had been dealing with the whole Megan catastrophe. Above all, she wanted to let him know how much she still loved him regardless of their past, and as such, if he was willing to start over she would be all for the idea.

For twenty minutes she looked out the window for his car to start emerging from a far-off road leading to their house, but there was yet no sight of him. As a further matter, she had not forgotten her promise to Ed, but in no way was she going to detain her husband’s keenness to reconcile for that reason. Even if it meant she would end up running late, ultimately, she was eager to keep waiting and expected to be understood. Fortunately, minutes apart from sending Ed a courtesy text, she saw Daniel’s car approaching the driveway.

She went at once outside to wave at him from the porch. The moment he got out and looked up at her, he smiled a smile that brought her pure joy, making what formerly enraged her insignificant. All she wanted was to be wrapped in his arms and breathe every breath of his that would restore peace to her soul, therefore, down the steps she went to him.

When she was about there, a loud report — an explosion — snapped through the air. Every bit startled by it, she stood motionless watching Daniel, whose smile simultaneously faded, let out a cough with blood to follow, splattering as he careened face first onto the concrete. Prior to her awareness catching up, around the corner came Ed, stony-faced, a gun in his hand. He came to Daniel’s inert body, pointed it directly above his head, and fired two more shots.

All that evilness occurred in a mere minute, during which time some of her happy memories with Daniel flashed before her eyes, and some sad ones, then some dark ones, really dark ones, involving Megan, and her death… there was Adrian and more… When the fiendish sequence of her husband’s murder finally registered, she screamed in sheer terror, quickly turning to run for the door. Though it was too late as Ed snatched her from around the waist, pulled her back roughly, and pinned her down to the ground by force. “Shh! Shh! It’s okay. It’s going to be okay…” he told her repeatedly, covering her mouth with his mighty hand.

She pinched and scratched his hand relentlessly, exerting desperately to rid it off her face. Her legs swung like a maniac, hitting his back with her heels to try getting him off. Her aggression only threw Ed deeper into his swivet. His face all fired up, losing altogether his sanity the moment he whacked her on the back of her head with the gun intending to knock her out. Her scalp bled and throbbed sharply as a result of that blow.

“I’m sorry, Allie, but you made me do it!”

Subsequently, her fight subsided.

Half-awake, half-blacking out, Allison looked down at the ground from over his shoulder. All she saw was his feet moving farther away from her home, and further into peril. Scared and helpless, in the midst of the chaos she heard police sirens blaring at a distance. Her heart felt the calm it needed at that moment. Everything in her surroundings thereupon went blank as she let herself slip into shock.

© 2017 by J Y Barris. All Right Reserved.

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