A Splash of Red
You decide today isn’t the day.
You look next to you, in the bed you two
have shared for two years, at a time when shopping together was cute and fun
and the world still seemed to have meaning, that’s where she is. And somehow,
to you, at this time, in the a-little-over-two-years of marriage, she seems too
perfect to disturb.
Today, it’s too easy to forget that she
told you that she had started sleeping with other men to “motivate you” (her
honest-to-God words). You had heard her right, hadn’t you? She had used the
word “men” in the plural, right? Or, perhaps that was just your imagination.
No, today isn’t the day, you tell
With her back turned to you, a perfect
Saturday with the light coming through the window, it’s just too easy for you
to believe that you have a perfectly normal, healthy marriage. There are
exactly five pictures in the bedroom you share—three of the wedding, and two
from before you were married. One on the dresser. Three on the wall. And one on
the night stand.
No, today isn’t the day you stab her in
the carotid artery. It’s certainly not the day you poison her morning tea.
Strangling her doesn’t seem to be in your character. Back to the carotid artery
She mumbles something. What did she say?
“What was that, sweetheart?”
“We’ll talk later, babe. I said some
things last night.”
babe, you did, you say in your mind because you’re
a bit of a coward and hate
confrontation. There is no confrontation in a punctured carotid artery.
For a moment, you see everything in red.
You imagine a splash of red on the walls, a splash of red on the pillows. A
splash of red everywhere would seem to calm the world down just a little.
The minutes go by, and suddenly you
realize something. Today is just too normal. The way she hugs her pillow and is
turned away from you almost reminds you of how you were when you two were first
dating. When you notice her nightgown, expensive, paid for with her own salary
as recently promoted chief nurse, it reminds you of how hard-fought all of your
gains together have been. Your struggles to pay down student loans. Your
struggle to find the right house in the right neighborhood.
Moving this bed from the dumpy apartment
you shared to this new house.
And then last night. “Why have you been
avoiding having sex with me lately, honey?”
She told you, “Rob, I’ve been fucking
other men.” Other men? Another man? Which
was it? Does it matter? A splash of red! Later, “Think of it as motivation.
You need this.”
Just one more day, you tell yourself.
One more day of feeling like this—of waking up in bed, looking out into the
sunlight. Into the right neighborhood with the good elementary school for the
baby you’ll have together (but now you can’t even be sure it’ll be yours), and
you’ll name him John after your father, who succumbed too early to COPD because
of his damned smoking, and she, that cheating bitch, was there every step of
No, today is not the day, you tell
Then again, you tell yourself, the whole
bedroom would look so much better with just a splash of red.
has wanted to be a writer ever since he was in elementary school. He has published
stories and articles in such
magazines as Slipstream, Black Petals,
and Leading Edge Science Fiction (among other journals and websites).
You can read his short writing on his blog, www.ghostsofnagasaki.com.