The silence was broken only by the ticking of the clock that mocked her. It mocked her for thinking this time would be different, for accepting his word at face value knowing full well he had never kept a word ever made. It mocked her for believing him and giving him another chance to do what he always does, hurt her.
There were times when the hurts were small. So minute in fact that they ceased to even register until so many had accumulated they could no longer be ignored. She tried though. Oh how she tried. Sitting here now she could not help but see the truth behind the veil of ignorance she had been wearing all these years. By ignoring what the rest of the world easily saw all she had done was let herself be played the fool.
From the near second of his lateness she knew she had been played yet again. She was done with it. She would be played a fool no longer. He would regret every missed moment, every forgotten date, every promise broken. He would regret every single hurt he’d given her, every bruise and broken bone, when she returned the favour.
All the times she had let slip by, unnoticed or unaddressed, were like tiny nails in a coffin. Eventually the coffin would be complete and ready for it’s eternal occupant. Her coffin was finally complete, though she would not be the one resting in it. Soft and comfy though it may be the body inside would never know. The body inside would be dead and cold, and she would be anything but.
Tonight the tables turn. Tonight he becomes the fool, he endures the hurts, he ceases to be.
She got up from the table leaving the full plates of dinner, the open bottle of Shiraz and her half empty glass. She also left the candles that had burned nearly completely away, though not before knocking one of them over. Wax spilled out over the cream linen tablecloth and the flame followed. The table was soon engulfed in flames. The chairs quickly followed.
The house they lived in, the home they had built, was crawling in flames and filling with smoke. She hardly noticed. Her mind was already elsewhere. On her way to the front door she stopped momentarily at the entryway mirror to check her appearance and fix her lipstick. She didn’t bother closing the door behind her.
She knew where to find him. All these years he thought she was clueless but she knew. She had never been inside the bar before now. Not once. It was his place, the boys club, where he went to drink and gamble and pick up whatever woman struck his fancy. Oh yes, she knew. She had always known, she had just refused to believe.
The place was just as she had imagined. Dark, dingy, and smelling like a day old beer with about an inch left in the bottle and half a dozen cigarette butts swimming in it. The men were a reflection of the bar. The women were the same, but in high heels, short skirts, and frosted blue eyeshadow. There were four pool tables, a larger snooker table, and one of those golf games at the far end if the bar. This end was occupied by a plexi box of pull tab tickets and two tabletop slot machines.
She walked past the machines towards the far end if the bar and stopped in front of the snooker table. “Hello, Jimmy.”
Jimmy looked up from the table he had been intently studying. The other player had left him snookered on a coloured ball. “What the hell are ya doin here lass?”
“I came to tell you I’ve had enough.” She watched the anger rise in him. Bad enough she was confronting him, but to do it here was much worse. His snooker buddy conceded the game and backed away from the table.
The bartender called over to Jimmy. “Jimmy man, that was the Darla. She says yer house is on fire.”
Jimmy looked back at her, eyes as black as night and a coldness in his tone that nobody could miss, but she didn’t flinch. “What the bloody hell have ya done lass?” He was beside her now, his hand at her neck.
In one swift motion Lynne took her hand out of her pocket and stabbed him twice in the chest with his own hunting knife. He fell backward against the table, blood quickly turning his grey shirt crimson. Shock and disbelief registered in Jimmy’s eyes when he looked down at the growing sea of blood. More began to drip from his mouth before he finally succumbed to the injuries and fell to the floor.
Lynne turned to the bartender. “Would you be a dear and call an ambulance? The truck I came in is in the ditch and I think my water just broke.”
The bartender could only stare at her in silence.