Liza in the Closet
you are such a delight, such a luxury—” He smiled his boyish smile and ran his
fingers through her tousled hair. “Do you realize what I would do just to—”
romantic babble was interrupted by the sound of a car door slamming, shortly
followed by the rattle of keys in the front door lock.
dammit!” He hissed, jumping out of bed. He grabbed Liza by the arm, roughly
pulling her up and off the bed. “You gotta hide!” He frantically scanned the
messy bedroom. Carl kicked a pile of dirty clothes away from the closet doors.
here.” He shoved Liza inside and closed the closet’s louvered doors. “And don’t
say a word—no matter what you hear. Got it?”
worked her way to the back of the closet, behind the hanging shirts, slacks,
and dresses. She pressed herself up against the wall and held her breath.
a wrinkled t-shirt and soiled jeans from the laundry pile and quickly pulled
them on. Just as he was zipping up the fly, Jessie pushed the bedroom door
Carl laughed awkwardly when they made eye contact; his mind was careening like
a poorly shot pool ball, zooming and clacking against other balls, trying to
locate a believable story. “What are ya doing home so early?” He mentally
kicked himself; that was the absolute wrong thing to say.
Jessie’s eyebrows knitted together; deflection was one of his tired tricks. “I
thought I’d come home for lunch. Work is making me crazy.” But not as crazy
as you make me, she added to herself.
looked at the rumpled bed and sighed. She’d made it up before she’d left for
work this morning. She always made up the bed. Carl knew this; he shoved
his hands into his jeans’ back pockets, thrust his shoulders out. He hoped the
pose would distract her. He knew what she liked.
is, Carl, what are you doing home? Why aren’t you at work?”
what?” Carl answered, adopting his seductive swagger and slowly moving in close
to her. “I wanted to surprise you, babe. Engage in some afternoon dee-light.”
He was such a bad liar. Carl chuckled and slid his arms around her to
bring her into a close, warm hug, hoping she would melt, like she used to.
Jessie put both hands against his muscular chest and gently pushed him away;
she could smell another woman on him. It was not the first time; more like the
50th. An exaggeration, but not by much.
surprised me, alright,” Jessie murmured as she slid her purse off her shoulder.
But not really, she said to herself as she opened her bag. “Well, I—”
she said as she dug around inside her cluttered bag, “have a surprise for you.”
looked up at Carl and smiled. “And here it is.” She withdrew her little pearl-handled two-shot
derringer, the one her grandmother gave her when she moved to the big city. For
protection. Well, Jessie reasoned, I have to protect my sanity and
self-esteem, don’t I.
babe—no!” Panicked, Carl waved his hands before him, as if this lame pantomime
could stop the roaring juggernaut of his oncoming fate. “Uh uh. You don’t wanna
do this!” His terrified mind scampered from excuse to excuse, from appeal to
appeal, like a rat trying to escape a feral alley cat. “You know how much I
your way,’ you once told me.” Her eyes
were cold and distant as she recalled that conversation. It was from the first
time she caught him cheating; the other woman was hiding in their bathroom,
cowering like the skanky coward she was. Though Jessie chased her out of their
apartment with a steak knife, she had no intention of stabbing the stupid
woman. No, she would save her murderous intention for the inevitable next time.
But he had
been so careful in the intervening years; Jessie never again caught him with
another woman, but she accrued plenty of evidence that there were others. Like
the lipstick she found under the couch when she was vacuuming; a color she’d
never wear, much less own. Folded love notes left in his jean’s pockets,
childish notes not written in her hand. Then there were the tiny g-string
panties she’d found under her seat in the car; must’ve belonged to the previous
owner, Carl insisted, as the car was bought used.
so many other instances, Jessie grew weary recollecting them; each memory just
added more kindling to her smoldering ire.
are my everything—my delight, my love, my—do you realize what I would do just
to—” Carl was maneuvering himself close to Jessie, in hopes of snatching the
derringer from her hand. She was on to him; she stepped back.
babe, but do you realize what I would do just to—” Jessie pulled the
trigger, and boom!, Carl crumpled to the floor, landing in the pile of dirty
laundry. “—be rid of you?”
him in the ribs with the toe of her loafer; he didn’t twitch or groan. She
wiped the blood off the toe of her shoe on his jeans, adding yet another stain.
“Aw, who’s gonna do your laundry now, babe?” Jessie scoffed. She put the
warm derringer back into her purse.
towards the closet. “You can come out now, Liza,” Jessie said with a soft lilt
the louvered doors of the closet open. She poked her head out, wide eyed and
biting her lower lip; Jessie melted inside when Liza did that. “Is it done?”
she whispered excitedly. Liza had donned one of Jessie’s floral summer dresses.
It fit her perfectly.
babe,” Jessie said as she took Liza in her arms. “And you played your part
perfectly—you sweet little scamp.” Liza blushed.
Liza asked. She looked down at Carl’s body and grimaced.
look at that mess, sweetheart.” Jessie took Liza's face in her hands. “Now I
grab my suitcase, we hop in your car, and we get the hell outta here.” Gently,
reassuringly, she kissed Liza. “We’re free.”
Hillary Lyon founded
and for 20 years acted as senior
editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her stories
have appeared lately in 365tomorrows, Black Petals, Sirens
Call, Night to Dawn, 50 Word Stories, Legends of
Night drabble series anthology, and Revelations drabble series
anthology. She’s also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines.
Sophia Wiseman-Rose is a Paramedic and an Episcopalian
nun. Both careers have provided a great deal of exposure to the extremes in life and have
provided great inspiration for her.
She is currently spending time with her
four lovely grown children and making plans to move back to her home in the UK in the Autumn.
Sophia had a few poems in the last
edition of Black Petals, and she is thrilled, as this is her first time illustrating
for Yellow Mama magazine.