Two friends walked with me side by side, night and day, holding one hand each in the hollows of their own. They were old while I was young; but as I aged, they stayed the same. The first came to me , on a September afternoon, after I had slammed the phone back into its cradle, weeping heavily into the curtains that framed my French windows.
White flecks. They pattered gently against the rim of his woollen cap and settled softly on his lashes, giving him a taste of what Winter was going to be like this year. Raising his face skywards, he breathed deeply in, closing his eyes and allowing the snow to caress the skin, like the silky embrace of a distracted lover. Having his fill, his steps turned homewards, where she’d be waiting for him.
Trudging along past the snowbanks, his gait slowed once opposite Edgar’s house. A candle flickered in the window and the curtain covering the window moved, almost too quickly. White curtains, he noted absent-mindedly. Edgar probably didn’t want him ruining the holiday mood. Who could blame him? All year long, he’d shared his woes. Christmas was probably the time to leave him alone.
A few more strides brought him to the portico of his own house. There it was, his very own white pathway, those cobbled stones of gravel smothered under the seasonal blanket. He paused to drink in the pristine beauty of the whiteness and sighed.
Opening the door, he stood for a few seconds, indecision swaying his resolve, like the chilly nip of Jack Frost. Shaking himself, he walked quickly up the stairs, taking them two at a time and walking over to the dresser, yanked open the drawer. It lay there, on the top layer of his white vests.
Fishing it out with one hand, he cradled it in the palm of his hand, watching it with the love of a father for his own son. Turning on his heel, he marched down the stairs and found her where he’d seen her, at the foot of the stairs. Raising his arm, he paused for a millisecond to look at the whites of her eyes. Calmly, he pulled the trigger. The blast of the shot was muffled by the silencer that the gun wore.
Dropping the gun before her, he pulled out the box from his left jacket pocket and threw it down beside the smoking evidence. Without a backward glance, he thrust both hands in his pockets and walked out the door, whistling ‘It’s a White Christmas‘ in a loud tone.
An Hour Later
Evelyn pulled into the driveway and noticed that the front door was wide open. Grumbling, she got out of the car, boots sinking in the lush snow.
Trust him to let the chill into the house, she fumed inwardly.
Striding into the house, boots sounding furious on the wooden floor, she screamed as she took in the scene before her. At the foot of the stairs, were the remnants of his deed. Hands shaking, she dropped to her knees and gingerly touched the clasp on the white ivory box. The clasp swung open and she saw the note inside. Trembling, she opened it to read:
It’s Christmas, Eve. That means I am free.
Your constant superiority, the fact that you make me feel worthless, the way you make me account for every damn penny spent, I’ve had it. So, here’s a souvenir. Look at it and remember that it could have been you. But, I’m in the mood to forgive.
Don’t come looking for me, because I’ll be long gone. Find another guy to torment. Or not.
Evelyn’s eyes took in the white gun at her feet. Her gaze traveled upwards to see the victim.
Her portrait looked back at her, minus the face, the bust and the hair. White plaster peeled from the wall where the gunshot had left a gaping hole.
White had always been his favourite colour.
Word count :598
This post was the Editor’s Pick for the Fiction Grid over at Yeah Write!
To say that I am thrilled would be an undertstatement!
Oh and as a bonus, it also made it to the Second Position on the Crowd Vote!
In the span of a breath, everything changed. The moment she had been waiting for, all her life, was ripped to shreds right before her very eyes, in one frenzied action. Miriam merely stood there, a mute witness to the spectacle that played out in front of her.
Four months ago
“Will you stand still, Miriam?” snapped June in a voice edged with annoyance. “I cannot get the veil over your head, if you keep moving around.” Impishly, Miriam twirled around as the lacy edges of the veil tried to hug her unruly curls in a desperate attempt at order.
Sighing in exasperation, June dropped the veil on the dresser and plopped down on the silken sheets covering the bed. The bride was being difficult on purpose.
“Aww, cheer up, my maid of honour,” Miriam piped up as she jumped on the bed and did an impromptu jig. “We have plenty of time.”
June did not share in her exuberance. “Three months is not enough time, Mir.”
“Four,” corrected Miriam absent-mindedly, while still jumping on the bed.
“I mean, look at you. You’re pumped up, full of zest, but are you even ready for a commitment of this kind? You’ve known Jared all of 4 months! How well do you get to know someone in that time?”
Miriam paused in her prancing to drop next to June, onto her knees, her face close to June’s shoulder.
“Well enough to know he is the one meant for me.”
June merely remained silent, but her disapproval was palpable.
1 month ago
Clutching the maroon folder in her hands, Miriam looked angrily at June. “You did WHAT?!!”
“Yes, I know it wasn’t what you wanted, but I had to be sure. I was not signing you up for a life of possible pain,” said June, her feet planted firmly on the polished wooden floor of Miriam’s condo. “It’s all there, if you want to read it,” she nodded towards the folder.
“Are you insane? What would make you think I’d want to read this? What or who gave you the authority to spy on my husband?”
“Your would-be husband,” corrected June.
With effort, Miriam controlled the barrage of words threatening to spill off her tongue and said instead, “Look, I know you don’t like Jared. I don’t expect you to, either. But, this is the man I will marry, for better or for worse. So, either deal with it or leave now, so I can look for another maid-of-honour.”
“Tsk, tsk. All this misplaced affection for a man you’ve known barely seven months, while we have shared everything for what…7 years? Glad to see you have your priorities straight,” a sarcastic June retorted. She then turned on her heel and clicked her stilettos out of the apartment.
The Big Day
The mirror showed Miriam what she wanted to see, a face glowing with joy on her wedding day. But it didn’t show the pain underneath. June had not answered any of Mir’s calls after that terrible encounter between them. Sighing, she adjusted the veil, smiling a shade sadly at the memory of the last time June had tried to get it on her.
She stepped out to the limo waiting outside. Seated inside, she adjusted the veil and her train and signaled to the driver to leave. As the car cruised along the countryside, her eyes took in the various sights. Up ahead, she saw the bent branches of a tree, tossed by the last storm. She remembered that night. What a terrible storm! She admired how it had remained rooted, albeit bent and crooked, all through that onslaught. “Is that what perseverance is?” she murmured, closing her eyes for a few seconds. Like my love for Jared, she smiled.
Miriam opened her eyes, not understanding why her head hurt. She realised she was thrown clear of the car. Her dress was in tatters and blood covered her hands. The limo was in flames. Without a second thought, she started running towards the church.
Bursting in, she saw June speaking to a horrified Jared. She moved closer to hear the words, “. . . the police think the brake lines were cut and the driver lost control of the car. They perished instantly.”
Miriam felt a clammy hand around her chest. From where she stood, she could also see the smile on June’s face as she turned away from Jared.
“I saved you, Miriam. From yourself,” she heard her whisper.