Lights Out by Leigh M. Lane

The inspiring song for the first round of If Music Be The Food flash fiction is by The Naked & Famous. The song is called “Rotten”. Have a listen before you read the next entry, written by Leigh M. Lane!

Lights Out

Another lightbulb had burned out, but Amy didn’t bother pointing it out. They could eat their soup in the dark.

Josh hadn’t noticed the highlights or the two inches she’d had cut off today, either.

Strike one.

It hadn’t made that big of a difference. Still, if he’d cared enough to look—just looked at her—he would’ve noticed. She was just looking for an excuse now. Let him keep pushing her.

When the silence between them became too much, she finally spoke: “So, anything interesting happen at work today?”

“I guess that would depend on your definition of interesting.”

“Anything worth sharing?”

He didn’t look up. “Had to go down the manhole again. You didn’t smell the hitchhiking shit fumes?”

“You smell like soap, dear.”

“Maybe the stink’s just stuck in my nose.” He sniffed.

She took a couple more bites and pushed her bowl aside. Who could eat when so much was at stake? She wanted to forgive. She wanted to continue loving him more than she hated him. But could she? If she gave him an in, would he even take it?

She cleared her throat. “Well, with all those extra hours you’ve been putting in, think you might finally take a few days’ vacation before summer’s over?” She already knew the answer, although doubt whittled away at it every time she analyzed the situation. Why couldn’t she just confront him directly and be done with it? Was she just as spineless?

He didn’t immediately respond. She watched his face for that tell-tale twitch along the corner of his mouth, the one she’d gotten to know all too well.

And there it is….

The lie confirmed, the son of a bitch did what he could to solidify it: “Development’s coming up quick. We got deadlines, sweetheart. Gotta have the whole damn thing wired before they can move forward on the project.” Twitch. “I can’t ask Dan for any time off until we’re done. You know how it goes. As soon as I can put in for the time, I promise, you and I will go somewhere nice.” Twitch.

Strike two.

She took her bowl into the kitchen, set it on top of a mountain of dirty dishes.

He followed her in. “I think that pile might just grow eyes and walk off. Is it breathing yet?”

Well, at least he noticed something.

She turned to him, her lips tight, and took the bowl from his hands. She turned on the water, and he grabbed a couple of cookies and walked out.

In her distraction, she broke a dish, then another. She moved on to the sink and countertops. She paused when she realized she’d scrubbed out a long line of grout.

She paced.

The news blared from the living room, causing something in her to snap. She stormed in, stopping at the doorway. “Can’t you turn that down?”

“You know I’m hard of hearing.”

“I can’t hear myself think!”

He waved her off. “Then go in the other room.”

Strike three.

She went to the bedroom. She’d already loaded the gun. It felt heavier than it had earlier. The unfamiliar panties sat where she’d left them. Pink butt floss. The rest of the laundry pile sat with them, unfolded. The whole load would need to go back through the wash. She went over the lines she’d constructed, practiced, kept at the ready. Second thought, she’d bring the panties, throw them in his face.

The hallway felt long and dizzying. Twisted. Uneven. She leaned against the wall to collect her thoughts and take a few heaving breaths.

If he begs… if he’s truly remorseful, I’ll just hurt him.

Tears already streaked down her face. She wanted to see him beg. Maybe looking death in the eyes would make him see… and if he didn’t see, then there was nothing left to save. The idea of it was still fuzzy in her mind, killing him, but the moment had become so surreal that not even her own thoughts made sense. She moved on impulse now.

He didn’t notice when she came up behind him. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. As soon as she said those words, as soon as he saw the barrel staring him down, that would be it.

No turning back.

She glared over at the television, tempted to shoot the blaring monstrosity first, just to make his last few moments as horror filled as possible. A pretty blonde in a tight sweater read the news: “…the latest in a string of local attacks. Police say the rapist singles out young, single women who live alone…”

She shifted her angle just enough so that he might take notice of the gun, but his eyes remained fixed on the television screen. He shifted nervously in his seat… no, not nervously.

She felt the blood rush from her face when she saw the erection pressing into his pant leg.

The gun lowered; the panties fell from her grip.

Dropping to her knees, she lost all sense of time and space. She couldn’t breathe. Her mind fell into am even deeper haze, her thoughts scattered, and for a moment, she forgot why she’d come into the room.

He finally turned, demanding her attention when he gasped at the gun.

She looked down at it, then back up at him. A new flood of tears rushed down her cheeks as soon as their gazes met.

His eyes went wide with fear and guilt; hers fell into hateful slits.

Staring him down, she grasped the panties with her free hand, dangled them from her fingers, then moved the gun to her mouth and caressed the barrel with her trembling lips.

His face went blank and sickly pale all at once, and he seemed to move in slow motion when he jumped to his feet and cried out.

She saw the flash right before the lights went out.

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