“…Sign the papers, Randall.”

“God damnit, Lucille,” Thrusting his fork onto the table he roared “I’m not signing any God damn papers!”

She lowered her head and stared at her coupe shaped plate. The silver. The delicate pattern of diminutive rose stems and petals.The stream of gravy seeping from the lumps of mashed potatoes and saturating beneath her half eaten pork chop. With fork in hand she poked at the food before completely losing her appetite.

His lips were tight. His vision seared through the skin of her dejected face. Slowly, her sable eyes rose from the plate to meet a gaze screaming with vehemence.

“I told you,” Using his free hand he lifted the newspaper he had been reading “I’m not signing them…I’m not!”

Lucille solemnly shook her head. Standing up, she lifted her dish from the table and walked to the metallic garbage can. Placing her foot on the pedal the lid sprung open. Staring into the black hole before her she hesitated before dropping the entire plate inside and walking towards the sink. Randall bellowed a laugh and she turned to look at him. He was still immersed in his newspaper and with a mouth half full of masticated pig meat he exclaimed “Listen to this! Aquarius: Today your sense of control and logic will yield to your more impulsive side. Emotions may get the best of you so be wary of your actions.

She stared at him with a despondency that she had grown too attached to over the last few years. His thin lips, usually pursed and wet, fanned an ire in her she struggled to keep from imploding. The raspy, dark tone of his voice was one she dreaded hearing when awakening in the morning. The feeling of those fingertips and palms against her slender frame had become a cringe-worthy experience and though she had never openly said so, she oftentimes found herself forgetting his name.

“…And why is that humorous?”

“Well,” He inhaled deeply, his face etched with arrogance “ Emotions may get the best of you. How? God knows you barely have any.” He flipped to the next page.

“Oh.” Facing the sink once more, she looked out of the kitchen window.

The saffron sky was reminiscent of her garden. The dendrobium orchids and lavender flowers she spent entire June afternoons with. Before Randall decided that a deck took precedence over the sanctuary of perfume and colors she had nurtured for years.

Wiping the hurt from her wet eyes she reached for the faucet handle before stopping herself.

“I asked you to wash these glasses before we sat down to eat.”

“What was that?” He mumbled from behind his newspaper.

“These glasses…in the sink. I asked you to wash them before I set the table for dinner…yet they’re still sitting here untouched.”

“Just put them in the dishwasher.”

“…I can’t.”

A throaty sigh was released before forcing “Why not?” from his mouth.

“…The dishwasher doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for weeks. I’ve asked you to take a look at it several times.”

“Oh,” He flipped a page “I’ll get to it.”

“You’ll…you’ll get to it?” Her torso twisted in his direction “When? You’re always getting to something but it never gets done.”

“Don’t Lucille.”

“Just like I asked you to fix the window in the bedroom or put new batteries in the smoke detectors.”

“It’s February! Nobody opens windows in February! So stupid,” He mumbled “And we’ve  gone this long without working smoke detectors. What’s a few more days?”

“…Or to hang the new oil painting I made.” She added, almost inaudibly.

Randall poked his head up from behind the newspaper, his fingers digging into the pages he held.

“Why is it still sitting in the garage?”

“Because it’s atrocious. You’re not an artist, Lucille. I already put the other one you did in the living room…as hideous as it is.”

Somewhere inside of her she heard a crack and felt something like the last glimpse of the sun’s edge fading into a charcoal night. Turning to face him she made her way back to the table. She lifted up the papers sitting to the right of her cutlery and place setting.

“Sign the papers.”

He slammed what he was reading down and his body tore from his chair, rocking the wobbly legs of the wooden table and spilling his glass of scotch and soda in the process. Lucille didn’t move nor wince.

“I told you! I’m not signing them!”

“I’m not happy.”

“Yes, you are! You are happy! You don’t have to worry about bills or money. I buy you everything you want! Your art classes, your yarn…everything you want!”

“I wanted to work…you can’t buy work,” She swallowed hard “I wanted children…you can’t buy babies. I wanted a few reasonable things…not everything. Just a few…reasonable things…that can’t be bought.”

Red. He was red. Lines carved into his twisted face, his lips pursed together as she knew they would. She extended the papers she held towards him.

“The papers–”

Before she could complete her string of words he slapped her hand aside, sending the papers into his plate of half eaten food. Her eyes darted after them, watching as they landed. She sighed.

“…Now they’re stained.” She reached out for retrieval.

Randall grabbed the papers and with a brutish ferocity he shoved the table aside. It toppled, his plate and glass smashing onto the tile beneath them. Forks, knives, and spoons danced in separate directions to the music of their handles and tips clattering before coming to stand stills. He leapt out at his wife, then halted, the tips of their noses touching. Lucille remained still, staring into the two blue abysses that glared through her.

Tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth, a low tone lifted from his gut.

“I am not going to…repeat myself,” the sound of papers tearing penetrated Lucille and she shuddered “ You’re not leaving me. You can’t! You love me…you love me. Do you understand? And if you…if you pull this shit again…Lucy, I swear.”

Not a noise fled from her.

“I said, do you understand me?” He repeated, his voice elevating, breath fiery on her flushed cheeks “As long as you’re in my house. You’re not going anywhere.”

Glancing away she closed her eyes. That cracking sound, the one inside, sharp and cutting like bones being snapped. She could hear it again. She felt it, the little black lines opening wider, spreading, trickling into depths she had left discarded and unexplored. Her brows burrowed before her hand swept over her forehead, guiding loose strands of ash brown hair behind her right ear. A gentle exhale followed.

“I’m speaking to you!” He flung the torn papers to the side and she felt his fingertips digging into her arms, shaking her with a jolted force.

Quietude hung heavy over the moment, taunting, teasing. An experience that seemed to expand into an epoch. Lungs pressed into her sides with a heavy force. A heart violently thudding into her ribs. Her very being quaking through her chest. And then it happened. It broke.

“…Yes.” She whispered.

“Yes? You love me?”

“…Yes, I understand…As long as I’m in your house, I’m,” she paused, her attention drifting to the right of her, through the open kitchen window, at the saffron sky “I’m not going anywhere.”

He nodded. One by one his fingers fell from her, his arms pulling back to the sides they sprouted from. Adjusting his collar he took a few steps back before completely turning away from her and tucking his shirt into his slacks.

“I’m going to the office now,” He looked over his shoulder; she was still standing in the same spot “I’ve got some work to wrap up.”

Lucille had been moved. Moved to a place she was estranged to. She was soaking in this unfamiliar sensation and nothing other than this odd, aberrant feeling seemed important. He spoke. She nodded.

“I should be back in a couple of hours.” He neared the doorway to the dining room.


The hushed tone grabbed his feet, held them still.

“…Yes, Lucy.” Incapable of bringing himself to face her, his body aflame and eyes watering,  he looked down at his shoes.

“Before you go…would you please bring the tool kit in from the garage.”

“What for?”

“So I can take my painting down…I don’t want to leave the nails in the wall.”

He turned to her, but didn’t look her in the face “Lucy, you don’t have to–”

“No,” was sharp as it slit his sentence in half “I want to.”


Lucille followed him to the backdoor, watching him walk across the deck, the graveyard of her flowers, and into the garage. Emerging with a dust ridden black box, he brought it inside and set it down on the floor. Standing, his arm reached out, taking her left hand in his. She twitched. He smiled.

The scent of freshly applied cologne invaded her space. The cologne he kept hidden in a box of odds and ends in their garage. The same way he assumed he had kept other secrets stashed in places she’d never conjure up or figure out. And she allowed him to believe in her non-existent ignorance.

“I love you, Lucy. You give me life. I take the vows we made 22 years ago…very, very seriously…I love you.”

His pain trodden face made the quiver of an abrupt giggle rise from her gut, but she caught it with the tip of her tongue and back of her teeth, and to make sure it didn’t slip through her lips, she covered her mouth with her right hand. He smirked.

Once composure was recaptured, she slowly exposed her thin pink mouth.


She watched the sleek, black sports car Randall had purchased several months ago, speed by the house before turning from the window and making her way to the living room. She stood in the center and looked around. The beige carpet tickling the soles of her bare feet was one of the many objects she despised. The decorum of this room reeked of Randall. From the eggshell colored walls, barren of anything but her painting, the one he found hideous. It was hanging over the brown suede sofa against the wall.

Climbing onto the furniture, her fingertips glided down the sides of her artwork. The array of pastels were smoothly smeared across the once blank canvas. In the middle of all the gentle, soft beauty was a violent, red smudge. It evoked a havoc. It evoked hatred. It ruined everything else around it, which was why she splattered it in the center.

Lucille carried it to the garage where she could still smell him in the air. Shaking her head, she walked to where the other painting had been stored, a white cloth hiding it. Tearing the cloth away, she placed the painting she had carried against the one he had refused to hang. The fabric was then thrown to the floor before she returned to the house.

Stepping into the dining area in the kitchen her head fell to the floor. She observed the litter of memories. Hostility. Animosity. Disgust. Hatred. Shards of glass were dispersed amongst the tile along with remnants of the meal she had prepared earlier and the now shredded papers Randall had been refusing to sign for the last three months.

Lucille spotted the newspaper and tiptoed towards it, minding the jagged trails of glass beneath her. Lifting it, she thumbed through the wrinkled literature until she came across today’s horoscopes.

“Capricorn,” She read under her breath “It may be a good idea to retreat into yourself today as you are feeling rather moody. Try not to take this out on others as the consequences may prove a poor choice and cause discord.”

A docile smile crossed her face. The newspaper drifted back onto the floor and she left the kitchen the same way she had found it.

Lifting the tool kit with both hands, she walked upstairs and entered the master bedroom. Dropping the heavy box onto the bed she eyed the only window there. She never wanted to live in this house because of the medium-sized, solitary window in the bedroom. Little light danced against her skin in the morning and the stars were strangers come night.

Now the only bedroom window needed to be repaired. She could lift it but it wouldn’t stay propped. There had been something wrong with the sliders for almost half the year now and Randall still had not fixed it, though he handed out promise after promise that he’d do so.

Grabbing a small number of nails in one hand and a hammer in the other she approached the window. Head tilted, she examined where the bottom of the wooden pane met the sill before dropping the pin-shaped items to the ground and kneeling. Lifting one of the miniature, steel, pointed rods she was meticulous with its placement against the pane’s projecting edge. Once certain, the hammer came down.

Lucille spent about forty minutes repeating this act along the window’s bottom until she was positive it could no longer be opened at all. Once finished, she pulled out the top drawer of the nightstand on Randall’s side of the bed. Rummaging, she found what she was searching for almost instantly; a fading bronze key. Placing it on top of the disarray made up of loose papers, crossword puzzles, watches and calculators, she then closed the drawer. She returned the hammer and remaining nails to the tool kit and lugged it back into the garage, leaving it in the exact spot it originally was.

Back inside of the house she again returned to the dining room. During the span of an hour she managed to wipe down the counters, clean the stove top, sweep and mop the floor as well as lift the table back on its four legs. Lucille did not wash the dishes that were left in the sink from earlier. She refused to.

Finished with this, she went to the cellar and retrieved two bottles of wine then fetched  two chianti wine glasses from the cupboard and brought them upstairs to the bedroom. She knew Randall would be home shortly and she craved perfection tonight.


“What is this?”

He stood in their bedroom doorway, greeted with the caresses of lavender and the faint scent of honeysuckle. Dim moonlight and scented candles sent a glow through out the space and softened the hard edges of everything in the room. This included Lucille who sat on the corner of the bed, limbs languid and adorned in a black, see-through peignoir, exposing her ample cleavage and the curves that trailed her hips, thighs and legs.

“…Welcome home.” Her voice was faint.

Still awe-struck he stepped inside, almost cautiously, looking around.

“What’s going on here?”

Her body lifted from the bed and she glided towards the red oak chifforobe in the far corner. A stare stuck to her slinking across the room, watching delicate arms reach for what appeared to be two wine glasses atop the piece of bedroom furniture.

“It’s Zenato Amarone, your favorite.” She spoke quietly, turning around, a full glass in each hand.

Her eyes were low and gazed at him in a way he had never seen.

“Where’s this coming from?” He asked.

She looked him up and down and noticed he had no briefcase with him and the belt he had left wearing was no longer wrapped around his waist. This used to make her flinch, but tonight, nothing resonated. Instead, she swayed to him and extended a glass.

“I’m..I’m tired of fighting.” She whispered, looking into the glass she now held with both hands.

“Lucy, Lucy, I am too.” He exclaimed, his glazed eyes now lit.

She could smell the bourbon on his hot breath. She shook her head.

“You look so good, Lucy…so good.” He reached out and pulled her close.

“Careful,” Her frame gently drew back from his feeble grasp “We don’t want red wine on your carpet.”

He grinned “No, we..we don’t, huh?”

Lucille placed her lips upon the brim and took a sip before leading Randall to the bed.

“Is that…are those–” He pointed to several small, clear bottles on her nightstand.

“Massage oils,” She answered “ finish your glass so I can pour you another.”

The navy sky melted into black and two bottles later, Lucille was now clad in nothing but her panties. All of Randall’s attire was strewn across the room and his stomach was pressed onto the Egyptian cotton sheets sprawled atop their mattress. She straddled his posterior, thighs tight against his hips, her wet hands glimmering in the candle light. She glided more of the ginger scented oil across his broad bare back and defined shoulders, then down his lengthy arms, thin wrists, the outlines of his wide palms, and laced her fingers with his, avoiding the tips.

“Do you like how this feels?” There was no response.

Leaning forward, her breasts pressed against the back of his neck, her bottom lip barely grazing his earlobe as she placed her mouth beside him and whispered “Are you sleeping?” to a still unresponsive man.

She felt his body rise and lower at a slow and steady pace before climbing off of him. Taking her robe from the closet, she wrapped herself up before gathering his clothing. Using his shirt she wiped as much of the oil off of her hands as she could, before placing it beneath the window, on top of his slacks and undergarments. She then closed the draped curtains, isolating herself from the star dusted sky as well as the looming moon.

“You know,” She paused “Oh yes, Randall. You know…It hasn’t been twenty-two years. It has been twenty-three. Twenty-three years, seven months, and two weeks since we spoke those vows.”

Turning around she looked at his nude body as he lay, intense in slumber, lips parted, drool spilling into the puddle forming around his protruding cheek.

“But I guess..vows are just simple words you say in front of God…”

Lucille left him passed out in their room and walked downstairs, back into the kitchen. Standing behind the sink, with her pinky and ring finger she pulled one of the curtains of the kitchen window aside. A part of her hoped to see the same shade of saffron from earlier but instead she was greeted with black. The same black she saw upstairs. A black that stretched across the sky then dripped down to the edges of the horizon. A sigh escaped her and she took off her wedding ring before lifting the faucet handle.

After washing her hands she dried them with a dish towel. Walking across the kitchen she opened a cabinet and pulled a pan out, placing it on one of the coils of the stovetop. Twisting a knob she waited for that familiar click before seeing a spectacle of blue and orange erupt from beneath the pan. She then turned the flame down. Drizzling a thin stream of oil onto the pan, she observed the yellow liquid as it spread across, the same way the massage oils did in the dips and curves of Randall’s body.

Opening the refrigerator she pulled out two already seasoned pork chops from the same batch she had prepared earlier. She placed them in the pan, a bit of oil splattering.

Lucille climbed up the flights of stairs once more and entered the bedroom.

“Randall..if you’re awake, please..please say something.”

No response.

“..If only you had just..” She sighed and shook her head.

Walking to a group of the half melted candles placed atop the chest at the foot of the bed, she lifted two by their holders and walked to the window, her robe coming undone and wafting behind her. She stopped then closed her eyes and listened for her heartbeat. Nothing.

Inhaling deeply, she sucked in more air than she ever had in her forty-two years of existence. And as she exhaled, she extended both arms and moments later she parted her lids.

They spread wide, exposing eyes that instantly absorbed the shade of amber running across the fabric that fell over the window. Stepping back she leaned over and placed the flaming candle tips to the bottom of the curtains, watching the blaze first nibble then devour the intricate ruffles then spread to his pile of clothes.

A few moments had passed before she set the candles down in front of the blaze. Randall’s nightstand drawer was then opened and she pulled out the key she had found earlier. Walking to the foot of the bed she looked down at him, a culmination of brilliant yellows, intense oranges, and soft reds invading her peripheral line of vision. This slippery, sleeping body was luminous and the urge of touch was something Lucille suddenly found herself fighting against.

“I wanted a career. You wanted a house wife. I wanted a family. You wanted abortion after abortion.. after abortion..tubes torn..I wanted art. You wanted your armchair and reruns. I wanted travel. You wanted work. I wanted laughter. You wanted silence. I wanted your love. You wanted theirs… I just wanted a few reasonable things…you wanted everything. And I’m so tired of fighting..I’m so tired,” the grumbling embers ignited into a blazing outcry “ win, Randall. You win.”

Swinging a limp arm she knocked the remaining candles on the chest over before heading towards the door, not bothering to turn and see if anything else had caught fire. The crackling of burn followed her, calling her name, tapping her shoulder, yet still, she had no interest in looking back. Exiting, she closed the door and inserted that key into the keyhole, twisting until the final click of a lock was heard. Cli-clack.

Downstairs, Lucille flipped the pork chops. Though burnt, they smelled delicious, with an aroma that was for some reason, more enticing than the ones she had prepared earlier. She imagined what her garden would have looked like if it were still out back. The purples and violets and saffrons would have rivaled how beautiful the sky was that evening. And they would’ve made a lovely bouquet she could’ve used for a table centerpiece.

The sound of an intense impact ripped her from her land of wonder. Another thud followed along with the sound of a dull bellow. She listened to the vibrations of movement dragging above her head. A long, trill screech was followed by a louder thud that shook the house. Lucille flipped the pig meat again before walking to the table, looking at the torn white papers and the key next to it. The key was then picked up and placed in the right pocket of her robe, the pieces of paper, in the left.

A thick black smog seeped into the kitchen and she only noticed this once breathing became a bit more difficult. She walked across the room to the antique wall telephone. Lucille then lifted the receiver and after coughing for a short spell, dialed 911 and placed it to her ear.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”


“911, what is the nature of your emergency?” The dispatcher repeated.

“My husband’s house is on fire…”

“You said your husband’s house is on fire?”

“Yes..” she coughed.

“Okay, ma’am. Are you in the house?”

“Yes!” She exclaimed.

“Okay, is there anyone else inside the house?”

“He’s upstairs.”

“Okay, I’m going to need you both to get out of the house, do you understand?”


“Now, before you leave, can you give me the address?”

“6366 West Dyer Boulevard.”

“Okay, we’ll have someone there right away, okay ma’am? Now is this a cell phone or a house phone…ma’am?”

Releasing the telephone she heard plastic collide with tile. She turned away. Walked to the front door. Her fingers slipped around the knob and gripped tightly. Open. She floated down steps of cement. Feet bare, they lead her into the middle of the front lawn. Moisture of dew tickling her soles. Tickling her soul.

She now faced the house, her husband’s house. The second story engulfed in the roaring flames of a ravenous blaze and the fervid angst of a broken woman.

..Till death do us part, she thought.

The torrid light ran rampant in the calm of her desolate eyes.

“…You should’ve just signed the papers.”


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