Jenny entered the kitchen the same as she did every morning and began to cook breakfast. As always, her hands quivered as she prepared the sugar cubes for her husband’s coffee. You see, the cubes were laced with poison. There was little chance he could detect it, but it still made her nervous every time she poisoned him.
She calmed her shaking hands, set the bowl of sugar cubes on the table. The coffee bubbled and dripped. It smelled wonderful, but she barely noticed. Every morning she grew more frightened, easily startled. Her nerves were shot. How long would this go on? She had been poisoning her husband for months, but every day he looked strong and healthy. A few days ago he grew pale, and she dared to hope for an end to all this… but then, he got better. So far this experience was taking more out of her than him.
Yesterday she got a fresh batch of poison and laced new sugar cubes. The bowl was fresh and full, so maybe now she could get rid of her husband. Maybe today was the day. She brush the hair from her forehead and poured his cup of java. She slipped in 2 cubes of sugar, even though she knew he’d put 2 more in. She wanted to be sure.
Her husband shuffled into the kitchen. He wore the same suit jacket and tie every day, and didn’t say a word. She laid out his newspaper, and he read its front page in silence. He sipped his coffee, added more poison sugar, and sipped more.
She asked if he wanted anything special for dinner. He kept reading, didn’t answer. “I can make steamed carrots, your favorite,” she offered. He didn’t reply. She thought she heard him grunt, but nothing more.
After a silent breakfast, he gathered his keys and briefcase, and left for work. She was alone again. Alone, with her poison sugar cubes, and her own cup of coffee. If this didn’t end soon, she contemplated putting some cubes into her own coffee – poison herself. One way or another, she just needed this silent relationship to end.
Across the street and 2 floors up, Edna and Hazel made their own hot tea and lemon slice, same as every morning. They peered out on the neighbors, curious about everyone’s business. In their old age, it was more fun to look into other houses, gossip and speculate.
“There’s Jenny Brimmel again,” said Edna, peeking down into the woman’s kitchen. “She’s still at it. Making 2 cups of coffee every morning, and the newspaper…”
“And such nice napkins she sets out. Perfect bowl of sugar squares, and hot rolls, just so. How long can she keep it up?”
“Such a pity her husband died so young. What’s it been? Four, five months?”
Edna shook her head, “At least. Five, six. Anyway, she can’t live like this forever, can she? Someday she’s got to let go.”
Hazel nodded and sipped. “Hmm hmm. A guilty conscience, if you ask me.”
Edna giggled. “Oh Hazey, don’t be ridiculous.”
Short Fiction: Trick or Tree