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Joseph Carrabis: Owen and Jessica

Art by Hillary Lyon © 2023

Owen and Jessica


Joseph Carrabis

         Owen's gaze went from the morning sun outside the kitchen window to his laptop screen.  He closed the lid so Jessica couldn't read what he'd written.

Besides, it was time to make breakfast.

He went to the drawer with all the butcher knives in it. There was one he never used. It was Jessica's and she kept it sharp. God knows why, she rarely cooked. It was a game with her; she'd come home, pull out her knife and hold it up towards him. "You used my knife today, didn't you? It's not as shiny as it was this morning."

He checked the whet of the knife, forgetting his father's warning: "Scrape, don't slice." Blood gathered in the whorls of his thumb. He stared at it and chuckled before licking it clean.

He opened his laptop and deleted what he'd written.

He would kill Jessica today.

The sunlight came through the window exactly how Owen told God it had to come through if God wanted Owen to kill Jessica, and it came through exactly how Owen told God to make it come through so that was it, there was no argument about it, God approved and gave Owen the sign he'd asked for so it was okay to do it and today was the day he would kill Jessica because God sent the sunlight through the window just as they'd agreed.

Well, thank God for that.

Owen chuckled. Thank God.

The sun came through that window exactly that same way for several days now. Owen kept count, kept track, going back and forth, bargaining with God, asking permission and wanting to be sure, beyond reproach, beyond crime, beyond punishment.


It came together so quickly he became giddy.

He could look, not linger, not glare or stare or gape, just a quick look while she was upstairs dressing, getting ready for work, going out, she'd talk with them, all those people, at the bus stop, on the train, in the office, at the bank, he could hear them talking, asking questions she didn't answer, smiling, nodding, brushing them away, flirting, ...


His Jessica, with all those people. His hussy, his scarlet, his little bitch in heat. But not for him, no not for him, never for him, always making sure they were never alone, keeping his mouth full of foods, of jams and jellies and mince so he couldn't ask so she wouldn't have to answer.

And here she was, coming down the stairs, her feet going tap tap tap on the hardwood stairs as she came down, as she stepped stepped stepped in her sensible flats, no strain on the ankles, no strain on the knees, no forcing the curvature of the calf, no pulling of the buttocks and thighs to give balance, sensible Jessica, modest clothing and sensible clothes, nothing too elaborate for his darling Jessica.

And here she was, his queen descending from her throne, descending from her dais, turning the corner and coming into the kitchen, into him, him waiting, knife in hand, waiting, the sun streaming through the window, just as God said, him waiting, in the sun, waiting.

He stood over his laptop, his fingers moving like elves stepdancing on the keys, a towel wrapping his thumb like a Turkish soldier's turban.

He deleted that last line. The similes didn't fit.

She pulled his hand from the keyboard. "Oh, you've cut yourself. You poor thing."

"Huh?" He looked at his thumb and laughed. "It's nothing. But it did give me a great idea for a story."



“Owen and Jessica” originally appeared in The Yard in March 2021.


Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist and holds patents covering mathematics, anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. And he’s boring and dull.

Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

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