BY JACQUELINE M. MORAN
My boots crush the virgin snow
as I labor through the storm. I jostle past a patch of close-knit trees. Hidden
branches catch my gloved hands, which are splayed in front of my face,
protecting my eyes from injury. The noise coming from the snapping twigs
worries me, as does the risk of falling into a white camouflaged ditch. No moon
or stars guide my path, as the snowfall obscures all light, but carrying a
flashlight will draw unwanted attention. Trespassing through rural properties
A comforting scent of burning
wood fills the air. The house stands close by. A dim yellow glow filters
through the pine trees and reflects off the snow in the clearing up ahead. The
light gets brighter with each step. Rescued out of near blindness, I soon find
myself staring at the back of Melody’s home.
The old pink Victorian house
appears immaculate and small. The windows cast the familiar brilliance of a
household at night. Smoke billows from the chimney and I imagine the warmth,
friends would find inside, but I remain unwelcome.
The structure resembles a sturdy
dollhouse. The interior is decorated with miniature modern furniture, tiny
lamps, and petite original art. All this simple splendor exists for the living
dolls moving about on the shiny wood floors. A life I watch others live without
Melody is washing dishes in her
kitchen sink. Her beauty faded this year. A pale puffy face with dead eyes
stares out the window as I stare inside. Dirty drab hair with dark roots
replaces her once long blonde straight hair. Wrinkles crease her brow and deep
smoker's lines stream down the corners of her mouth. No longer slim, her jaw
line is gone and replaced with a fold of fat.
A light brightens an upstairs
room and I glance up and to the top right window. The oldest daughter sits on a
bed staring at something in her lap, perhaps a phone or a book. Oh, great. The
girl has on headphones and won't be able to hear me later.
Peering back into the downstairs
kitchen window, I don’t see Melody. Hoping my black ski outfit will cloak me in
invisibility, I step sideways, and hunker down, behind a nearby bush. The view
of the inside of the house improves from here. The young twin girls sit on the
floor of the family room in front of the fireplace, playing a board game. Their
mother speaks to them with her lined mouth and flails her arms as she explains
something. I like imagining her as a puppet being manipulated by strings from
someone up above.
The twins get up and race
through the hallway to the front door. Melody turns on the foyer light and
opens the thick oak door. The husband, Matt, smiles as he enters the home. The
couple kisses before Matt bends down and picks up the girls with his broad
frame and strong arms. The five-year-olds wipe the snow off his handsome head.
They sit at the table and eat.
The older daughter remains in her room. They look like a happy family.
The four of them stop what they
were doing at the exact time and set down their forks. For a second, I think
they hear me outside, but as they look up at the ceiling, I realize who must be
making noise. Matt smiles and makes a hand gesture to his family, which
suggests they should continue eating. The daddy of four girls walks up the back
staircase from the kitchen that leads to the baby’s room. A moment later, the
nursery light goes on. Matt picks up the prize. There she is; their future anguish,
all pretty in pink. He kisses their darling chubby four-month-old giggling girl
several times on her cheeks and neck. His smile, an expression of pure joy.
Matt exits the nursery. In a few
minutes, I see him enter the oldest child's room, beautiful baby in hand. They
startle the pre-teen who rips off her headphones to yell at her dad and puts
them back on. He shrugs his shoulders and kisses her petulant head before
leaving the room. Such spoiled kids.
I am watching them all play with
the baby. She is the complete focus of their attention.
I met Melody a year ago through
Sara, a mutual friend. Sara had gotten a divorce and decided to move to London.
The three of us had a pleasant dinner together before her move. Sara and I became
friends in college, but we
didn't see each other often over the years because she moved quite a lot. She
was childless, like me. Melody and Sara met through work. Advertising, I surmised.
Out of a job, unmarried, and
without children, I moved back in with my parents at the age of forty-two.
Meeting Melody felt like a gift. Three months pregnant at the time, she glowed
with health and happiness. Although she didn't work, I pretended to be
impressed with her food pantry drives, girl scout troop, and PTA presidency. By
the end of the evening, we exchanged telephone numbers.
When we first became friends. We
spoke on the phone and I visited her, about four weeks later, at her house.
Five months into the relationship I still remained unemployed and my parents
were annoyed. Melody had four weeks until her due date.
By month seven I called twice a
day. I still had no job. I liked calling Melody as her voice comforted me and I
felt less lonely. I also liked to hear about her pregnancy. It was going well.
By this point, I believed she thought of me as her best friend. Her sister
The sister's jealousy came
between us. This was made clear. I never received an invitation to her house
“Hello, Andrea. You didn’t have
any luck? I am sorry….” Sara said, answering my phone call. The fourth of the
In the background, I heard her
sister speak in a hushed but loud tone. I think she wanted me to hear her.
"Is it her again? You are
way too accommodating. Hang up! She is scary crazy. I know you pity her, but
she isn't your responsibility. Mama always said, 'Melody always tries to save
the strays.' Sometimes strays scratch. Stop it!”
kept on speaking unaware I heard
everything her sister said. What a bitch!
This is when She enacted
communication limits on me.
"Hello, Andrea. I’m due and
day now and almost ready to burst. It's hectic getting the kids up, cooking
breakfast and making sure we can get to school on time. I can't talk on the
phone. I’m sure you get it."
She sent me a text! A Healthy baby
arrived! I wanted to visit.
"Hi, Andrea. I know you
didn't mean to, but the phone woke my baby girl. It took a long time to get her
to sleep. Don't call around nap time. Sorry!"
“Sorry I am not up for
"Can't talk. The kids are
walking off the bus."
Eight months into the friendship
she started responding a lot less and sending back shorter and colder texts.
Dinner time. I am feeling a
little blue today. Might be postpartum crap. I am not sure.
Bath time. I wish I could grow
eight hands when needed.
The whole family is here.
I blamed her sister. Our
relationship changed after I overheard what that jealous psycho said as I spoke
to Melody on the phone that day. That woman almost ruined everything by shining
a light of mistrust on me. Melody stopped texting back. I couldn't leave phone
messages at all because her voice mail was full. I guess she never listened to
any of them.
Soon, she stopped interacting
with me altogether. She ghosted me! In
fact, I realized she never called me. Ever. Not once. She now used the new baby
as an excuse.
I will not come last!
With great difficulty, I didn’t call
Melody for thirty days. I worried about her and the baby. I disguised myself
and took trips, using my parent’s boring car to pass by her house, trying to
get a glimpse of them.
I called after the four weeks
passed and she answered.
sister passed away nineteen days ago. She
died in an accident. It’s not easy for me to get out of bed, let alone care for
the baby. I stopped nursing her. The police believe she hit a patch of black
ice as she drove to work early in the morning. She skidded off the road and the
car flipped going down a steep embankment. When she didn't show up for surgery,
the hospital called, and we called everyone we knew. The police found her dead."
Melody sobbed for an hour and I
listened. I was in heaven. She needed me.
What Melody didn’t know is that
I followed her sister for a week to memorize her schedule. She drove to work
before dawn on Wednesdays. There is one short curvy stretch on Elk Mountain
that did not have a guardrail, but it did have a steep drop. If I was lucky and
hit her bumper at the right time, it would be possible to send her car flying
off that road. There would be no paint
or residue from my car. I brought my unlicensed gun, that I bought from some
thug in Florida, with me. I would use it if necessary.
I followed the bitch from her
house. I knew where she was going so there was no need to trail closely. I sped
up as I drove up the mountain then I got very close behind her honking my horn,
trying to scare and distract her. I got to the spot where there was no median
to protect her from the sheer drop off the mountain. I rammed into the back of
her car going 30 miles an hour. She swerved and lost control of her car. As I
watched her car fall over the edge of the 100-foot drop I crossed my fingers and
prayed she would die. I had to do it. I had no choice. She was ruining
Before long I started calling Melody
every day again and sometimes, she answered, and I listened to her cry. I
thought an invitation would be imminent. Maybe after she got over her sister's
death, but none came.
She stopped picking up my
telephone calls and she didn’t answer any of my hundreds of text messages. Enough
was enough! Ten days ago, I showed up at her front door with a cake and
flowers. No one answered, although I saw movement in the house and her car in
the driveway. Rude! Mean! It took me hours in bumper to bumper traffic to get
there. I fumed as I drove back to my house. I threw the flowers out the window
on the highway and ate the cake with my bare hands, shoving fistfuls of it into
my mouth. Too busy? Or too busy for me?
Oh, please! The woman didn't work
and spent her time preparing peanut butter sandwiches. Why would anyone prefer
to help other people's dreams come true instead of their own? I don’t
understand. She must be so bored. I was not working at the moment, but I have a
career. She's a babysitter and laundress.
Melody doesn't know how many
ways I could destroy her character. People want to believe lies. A spoken lie
always becomes someone's truth. I could say she is cheating, abusive,
intoxicated or suicidal. But I won't do that because I want something else from
When I went back home, I called
eighteen times before Matt picked up.
"Listen closely, Andrea. I
am only going to say this once. We obtained a restraining order against you. My
wife felt bad for you, but you cannot take a hint, can you? Do not come to my
home again. Leave us
alone. You’re not welcome. Am I clear?”
After he hung up and blocked me,
I went into plan ‘b’ mode and began orchestrating the plans for tonight.
I have my problems too! I gave
up looking for work. My past employers would not give me a decent reference. I
won a harassment lawsuit from the financial firm I worked at. My boss would not
go the next step to cement our relationship. How dare he humiliate me! I
recorded him, saying he found me to be attractive. I edited out the parts where
he said he had no feelings for me and that he would report me for my stalking
behavior against him. He pressed me to
get help and said I was delusional.
Angry at the rejection and false
accusations, I acted first. I told the managing partners he harassed me for
ages with unwanted attention. I had my short recording as proof. I destroyed
the bastard’s life. They fired him and his wife took the kids and filed for
divorce. The police discovered his body in the garage with the car running
later that week. He committed suicide. What a baby!
The company found an accounting
discrepancy I had made and used that as an excuse to fire me, soon after his
Now, here I am, standing in a
I continue to watch the family
wind down for the evening until the house becomes dark.
Thankfully, they don’t have an
alarm. Melody doesn’t know I stole a house key. I took it from their key rack
in the kitchen months ago—long before they banned me. The bastards!
The snow will cover my tracks
after walking back to the car I parked several blocks away.
I can take one. She will still
I will walk quietly up the back
staircase. The baby’s room is conveniently down the hall from the other
bedrooms. I brought my gun in case anyone wakes up.
The infant will not remember
them, and I try out being a mom.
My parents will be glad to be
rid of me. It exhausts them to assist me with my break downs. They tell me I
abuse them. My psychiatric hospital stints drained them of their retirement
funds. I don't want to pay for their rent in their old age. I placed the fake
suicide note on my mom's pillow.
They won't search long for me.
A suitcase filled with the
lawsuit cash sits in my trunk.
I bought a car seat and baby supplies
on my ride up to Melody’s house.
We will drive until we
Me and my new daughter.
I got what I wanted.
No one will find us, and Melody
will suffer, as she should.
Moran Meyer is a writer, artist and small business owner living in New York,
where she received her master’s degree from Teacher’s College, Columbia
University. Jacqueline loves to read short stories, especially by O.
Henry, Alice Munro, and Ray Bradbury. She also enjoys time with her family,
hiking with her dog, and watching scary movies. Website: jmoranmeyer.net <http://jmoranmeyer.net/>