“No thanks, I’m on a diet”, she replied without looking.
It wasn't quite the answer he had hoped for. Time for plan ‘B'. She had refused the cake, which he was almost certain was going to work, but surely she couldn’t refuse some champagne?
“Well how about some bubbly then?” he said turning around once again, this time a flute glass held aloft.
“What’s the occasion?”
“Nothing, my dear. Just thought I would treat you.”
Her eyes flicked up from her magazine for a second. Maybe that was all she needed to survey the situation.
“You not having one?” she asked, idly turning the page.
He hesitated for a second.
“It’s… for you. I bought it for you.”
“No thank you. I don't like the bubbles – not before I eat. It makes me feel all bloated…”
Exasperated, he couldn’t help but let out a sigh.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, dropping the magazine, finally giving him her full attention, “You’re acting kinda funny…”
“Nothing’s wrong. I just… “
He backed away a little. Didn't want to get her too suspicious.
“I just wanted to do something for you. I know work’s been hard, long hours and whatnot… thought I would just treat you. Spoil you a bit…”
She scrunched up her face in mock appreciation, “Awwwww! So thoughtful..!”, before letting her face fall emotionless again.
“Fine then! Just eat your dinner…” he said, struggling to control his frustration. Carefully setting the champagne glass down on the kitchen work surface, he turned with the bowl of soup he had just served out from a larger pan and put it down on the kitchen table. His hurriedness betrayed him as the tomatoey liquid lapped against the sides of the china, coming dangerously close to spilling out.
Maybe she had noticed it, or perhaps in that moment she felt a brief twinge of guilt, but whatever the reason, it appeared she had finally conceded.
“Ok! Ok! I’ll eat! Keep your hair on…”
She picked up the spoon and tentatively stirred the soup. She could feel his eyes on her, watching her every move.
“It’s too hot.”
“Its soup, for crying out loud! It's supposed to be hot!”
“Well maybe you can get me a glass of water to have with it?”
He paused, considering it.
“Okay”, he said getting a glass from the cupboard and filling it with tap water, “There you go. Happy now?”
She took a sip.
“It’s not cold enough.”
“Maybe some ice…?”
“We don't have any…” he whined as he flung open the freezer door.
“Pleeeease-“, she squeaked, “I promise I’ll be good and have my soup if you get some me some…”
“You want me to go all the way to the freezer down in the cellar just to get you some ice?”
She looked at him meekly, “Pretty pleeeease…”
Unable to resist, he paced off out of the kitchen and into the hallway. Ice! He thought, just some goddamn ice and we can be done with all this! He was in such a rush – so lost in his racing thoughts – that he failed to notice the slight heaviness of the cellar door, or the fact that unusually it was already slightly ajar.
It was too late.
The toolbox that had been perched precariously above the door came crashing down on his head with muted thud. His legs giving way beneath him, his limp body having nowhere to go except to tumble forward down the stone steps into the darkness.
A good minute had passed before the light switched on above his head. Impossibly bright. Footsteps slowly descending the stairs. A silhouette of a figure looked over him. He tried to cry out but could only produce a gurgle from out of his crumpled form.
She bent over and, after a moment’s consideration, picked up a sturdy hammer from the scattered debris.
“Idiot...”, she scoffed before slowly raising it above her.
Washing her hands in the kitchen sink, she felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted off of her chest. She even caught herself humming at one point and let out a chuckle at her own audacity. Time to celebrate, she thought. She picked up the champagne flute still on the side and instinctively took a large gulp. It wasn't until the glass was almost horizontal that she noticed it – the unusual separation of bubbles in the bottom of the liquid.
The sudden burning in her throat and lungs caused her to start coughing in a violent fit. She tried in vain to cover her mouth but it wouldn't stop. Wide-eyed she stared as blood filled her hands - in some cruel twist of irony, replacing that which she had just washed off moments before.
16th July 2012