Here is my entry for Alissa Leonard’s FINISH THAT THOUGHT Contest #2-31
The challenge is to write a story of 500 words or less, and to start the story with the following phrase words in [Brackets] are interchangeable:
[It] wasn’t supposed to be like this.
There was also a special challenge to write in second person.
‘Til Death – 500 words
Special Challenge accepted
The end wasn’t supposed to be like this, but there she was, sprawled on the hearth, head split on the bricks, life oozing from the wound.
“It was an accident” you tell yourself, but you know what the police are going to see – your most recent transgression surfaces in your memory like a bloated corpse in a flooding graveyard – you were in a bar brawl, just last week.
There would be witnesses, probably dozens, each bearing a tantalizing tale of your barbarianism. Giddily bathing in the gasps of horrified reaction, each would be eager to serve up another offering to the god of your condemnation.
Until this moment, you’ve stood frozen, staring at her, but you’ve become suddenly aware of your pulse, telegraphing a psychotic “S.O.S” to your limbs. Now, the overwhelming instinct is to go.
You put on your jacket, grab your keys, and tuck your cell phone into your pocket. The familiar cadence of the going almost makes you forget the “why” of it.
The plan appears in your mind suddenly, but you are as instantly certain it is right. You return your jacket, wallet, and keys. Locking the door, you step outside, pulling it closed behind you. Turning, you kick at it until the jamb gives away.
“He confronted me in the kitchen,” you imagine yourself telling the police, “and we fought there”.
You careen around the room, wrestling the imaginary perpetrator. Realizing there will have to be fresh wounds, you blacken your eye and re-split your lip on the refrigerator door.
“She tried to stop us,” you imagine saying, as you and the invisible intruder bounce into the living room, “but she fell backward.”
You stand still, breathing heavy.
“He ran out when he saw she was hurt,” you say to the empty room.
Within the hour, you’re giving your statement to an officer who seems to believe your story.
“Did you know the perpetrator?” he asks.
Your mind conjures up a convenient face from the bar fight, recollecting the disgusting things he was saying about your wife and her “kind”.
“Yeah, I knew him,” you say, “It was Connie Brown. You know, the skinhead.”
“Connie Brown,” the officer repeats, “you sure?”
“It was Connie Brown,” you say, loud enough to halt the neighbors’ whispers. In the ensuing silence, you scream it again, almost believing it yourself, now, “Connie Brown did this! Connie Brown killed my Joan!”
“Sir,” the officer says, “Connie Brown was found dead this morning. Someone shot him.”
You turn, slack-mouthed, to the police officer.
“No,” you say.
“When did you say you last saw Mr. Brown?”
“No,” you say again.
“I’m going to have to ask you to come with me,” the officer says.
“No,” you say again, as the handcuffs go on, and again as you are placed in the cruiser.
You say the word over and over, longer and louder, until the sound becomes a wailing cry that no one can hear over the patrol car’s siren.