Fiction. Dorothy decides to become a homemade widow.
Dorothy knew people considered them the perfect couple—-Harold with his quiet intelligence and his strength and Dorothy, petite and a little ditsy. Of course, no one could see inside and know how she really felt.
There was never a disagreement between them. Harold had seen to that in the beginning.
“Little woman,” he’d said the first time she’d dared to contradict him, “I’ll do the thinking for the two of us.”
It was Harold who insisted that she can vegetables and fruit to save money. And Harold who wouldn’t let her have modern conveniences such as a dishwasher, a garage door opener, or even a vacuum, though he knew she wasn’t strong and she had to beg him for help. Harold had become especially intrusive at micromanaging Dorothy’s life since he’d retired a few months ago.
Harold wouldn’t give her a divorce. But Harold was ten years older than she was, and she’d likely outlive him and collect on all that lovely life insurance and that bank account. She stayed put, even when that nice man, George Malone, moved back to town after his wife died. George was the man she should have married. She was sure George still cared for her. She was sure she’d seen love for her in his eyes when she ran across him at the grocery last week.
Harold wasn’t home that afternoon, the afternoon she decided to kill him. He’d ordered her to prepare broiled chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for supper. Dorothy’s arthritis was troublesome and she knew she’d be in serious pain later. A storm was brewing, due to hit that night, and damp weather bothered her. She’d hurry to fix the meal before her hands stiffened up too much.
She entered the basement with the idea of fetching a jar of the beans she’d put up last year. Moments later she walked back into the kitchen knowing there was no reason for her to keep waiting for Harold to finally meet his maker.
It was the bulging lid on the jar that gave her the idea. She put the offending jar on the floor, intending to carry it to the trash. Then she saw there were no more, no way to substitute a good jar of beans and quietly get rid of the poison one.
“He won’t let this pass without scolding me,” she said out loud. She imagined his voice saying, “You certainly missed out on the brains and the common sense.”
The next thought danced into her head as if it had waited forty years to make its debut. And maybe it had. There was no need, no need at all to wait for Harold to die. Her heart gave an excited extra thump. She didn’t need Harold. All she needed was his money and now she knew just how to get it.
Dorothy prepared dinner just the way Harold had instructed. By the time he arrived home, the storm had set in and Dorothy’s hands ached so she could hardly move them. Good thing she’d been able to open the bean jar before the storm hit.
“Woman, why aren’t you eating?” Harold eyed her from under heavy brows.
“A touch of the flu.” She rubbed her stomach.
“Hmpph. Well, did you make my appointment with the accountant today, or did you forget?”
Dorothy’s face took on a warm glow. She had indeed forgotten. It was her curse to be “scatterbrained” as Harold so frequently reminded her. Sometimes it seemed she spent half her days trying in vain to remember what tasks she needed to accomplish. But soon that wouldn’t matter. When Harold was gone, she could please herself. And George Malone.
Harold dug into the beans as if he knew he was enjoying his last meal. Dorothy checked the weather again. The rain lashed down and the wind howled. Perfect. Every time it stormed, the phone went out in their end of town.
She went upstairs to bed. She awoke once during the night and looked at the clock. It was two A.M. and Harold was not beside her. Very unlike him. Somehow, despite her growing excitement and the thought of all that money, she managed to go back to sleep.
In the morning Dorothy’s heart thumped faster and faster as she walked from room to room. She found Harold in the living room, his lifeless hand resting on the phone. She pulled the hand away and picked up the receiver. No dial tone. Thank goodness the storm had done its work.
Now it was time for Dorothy to do her own part. Her mind raced, thoughts tangling together so she could hardly think straight. She’d tell the police she’d slept soundly and never noticed Harold hadn’t come to bed. As soon as she found his body, she tried to call for help, but the storm had knocked the line out. Of course she’d gone into a total panic and run out to the garage to jump in the car and go for help.
Her face a study in concentration, Dorothy ran to the garage, letting the kitchen door slam behind her. She half heard the satisfying click of the lock. Next she had to...beads of sweat broke out on her forehead and she stopped in her tracks. She had to open the heavy garage door. Harold always opened it. Dorothy wasn’t strong enough.
Well, she’d just have to go back inside and out the front door. She’d walk down the road and ask a neighbor for help, even though the nearest house was a mile away. But the kitchen door had locked behind her. She frantically rummaged in her purse for the key. Not there. Harold always insisted she keep it on a hook by the back door and she’d forgotten to grab it on her way out.
Dorothy tried with all her strength to lift the garage door. It didn’t budge even a quarter of an inch.
After a long time, she straightened up and walked woodenly back to the kitchen door. “Harold?” she whimpered, banging her tiny fists against the door. “Harold, I need you.”
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|Reviewed by Sheila Roy
|I love the creativity of this line:
"The next thought danced into her head as if it had waited forty years to make its debut."
This story pulled me in and kept my attention till its ironic conclusion. I love the way you managed to have so much happen in such a short writing time! Excellent work:)
|Reviewed by Joanna Leone
|This was a perfect, uplifting story! I love the unexpected, surprise ending in this story! I look forward to reading more of your stories. Stop into my authors den sometime!|
|Reviewed by Susan McLeod
|Linda,I loved this story! I had to make a real effort not to keep looking ahead to see what happened;that's how spellbinding it was.The humor was wonderful,done with a subtle touch.And the ending was a complete surprise.Well done!|