VEUX Magazine ~ ISSUE 17 : STORYTELLERS SHORT STORY CONTEST
For this contest, we had to choose one prompt to begin our story with... I went with:
Breaking Point - ©2014 CLF
I put down the knife and took a step back. I couldn't envision a better way to live than to finally accept who I genuinely am. A tiny smile danced across my lips as my eyes found their target. He looked a little less than thrilled by the fierceness in my gaze.
"Something wrong?" I asked. The taunt was nothing more than a game to me now. He would feel every ounce of fear he had once placed into me. It was my turn to fight back.
"I… uhh… no. Chelsea, don't do this." He puffed out a tiny breath and reached for his chest. Yeah, his heart issue was going to give him some issues tonight. Good.
"Don't do what, Ty?" The innocence that would normally be firmly in place has slipped beyond correction. He can see the evil that was lurking within.
"What are you going to do?" His breath is coming in short pants. At any moment, he could either pass out or wet his pants. Either would be the icing on the cake for me.
"I'm going to finish making dinner and we're going to eat. In peace. You're going to do the dishes after and then come to bed. We are going to have a nice meal together and then find a way to live our lives as happy as possible without a problem from now on."
His eyes widen in panic. "But… b-"
"No need to stammer over words. Come. Bring that knife I was about to hack you up with and cut the chicken."
"Well, come on. The chicken isn't going to cut itself. Chop chop." I giggled at my own joke and waited for him to move. It was my turn to have the power.
Dinner was pleasant, but quiet. Ty chewed his meal slowly and with his eyes cast down at his plate. He barely ate any of it.
"How is your food? I tried a new spice blend on the chicken."
"It's really good," he answers without looking up.
I put my fork down and ducked my head until I caught his line of sight. "Come on, let's talk about this. Why do you seem like a kicked puppy? You're not smiling, not talking. This is so not like you at all."
His head shoots up and his eyes follow. "Are you serious?"
"Dead." I internally choke down the giggle that almost escaped with my meaningful response.
"I'm gonna get out of here. This is ridiculous." He stood, tossed his napkin on the table, and stalked to the door. Trying the handle, he realized something new was amiss. Turning around, he stifled a yelp as he saw me placidly waiting behind him.
"Unlock the door, you crazy bitch." The spittle of his anger trickled across the breath of space between us and landed on my bare shoulder before he turned to yank on the door again.
"Sorry, can't. I had our security company lock us down about thirty minutes ago. We've been feeling uncomfortable lately and there've been a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Right?"
"There haven't been any break-ins. What do you mean we?"
"Oh no? Huh. When I called the security company, I let them know how brave and strong you are while protecting us." My adoring smile must have been a tad bit late.
"Just let me leave. I won't bother you ever again." Desperation had crept into his voice. Apparently my new demeanor wasn't settling well with him still.
Instead of playing cat-and-mouse all night with my husband, I decided to have the mercy he never afforded me. I took a large step back and dropped the façade. My warm smile was replaced with the flat features he deserved.
"Ty, you do realize that you have used me as a punching bag and general negativity receptacle for the last fifteen years, right? You know you have done me wrong over and over again and I continue to take your crap. You know I deserve better than that."
He stops fussing with the door and simply nods and says, "Yes." Staring at the hardwood floor, he doesn't move a muscle or offer other words, not even an apology. Of course.
"People like you don't change unless they have to." I steadied my stance and then added, "and you will either change and vow to make this work or leave here as a very unfortunate incident. Either way, I am going to be able to sleep at night. Finally."
"Wha.. what do you mean?" His eyes locked onto mine. They were pleading and confused.
"I mean, we are going to sit there," I pointed to our cozy living room, "and talk this out, write down a plan, and make it work. Or I will kill you when you sleep." My final simple sentence made my point.
He held up his hands in defeat. "You can forgive me?"
Without answering, I hold my hand out to him. A huge sigh of relief leaves him as he takes my hand and walks with me to the living room.
The paramedics wheeled him out as I sat quietly on the steps the next morning.
Fear is a funny thing. I suffered for years at the hands of the person that vowed to love and honor me. He broke my heart and my body more times than I could count, but he never broke my spirit. It just turned out that he was a horrible bully and the one time I showed I wasn't going to take it anymore, his own heart gave up on him. That probably worked out best for both of us. All of the vile things I had plotted out in my head would have surely ended me up in jail.
Finding my inner strength was all it took to reach my happily ever after.
And... naturally I couldn't just write one, so I wrote another!
(which won and was featured in the April 2014 issue of VEUX magazine!)
Success and Happiness ©2014 CL Foster
I put down the knife and took a step back. I couldn't envision a better way to live than to finally accept who I genuinely am.
I tilted my head to admire my handiwork and then turned to pick up my cellphone to dial my mother. "Dinner at my place tonight at six?"
"Sounds perfect! See you then."
My closest friends had gathered with me to make the announcement. As my friends, they had known for years what I loved and supported all of my decisions and knew I needed them tonight.
Precisely at six, my doorbell rings. Opening the door, I can't help but hide my nervousness under a ridiculously huge smile.
"Leanna, you look positively radiant. That smile is to die for," mother gushes as she hugs me.
"I am in the greatest of moods, mom. Come in. I invited some friends to join us, I hope you don't mind."
"Oh, of course not, babe. The more the merrier. Plus, it's your house."
Taking her hand, I led her to the kitchen as my best friend busied herself setting the table.
As we entered the kitchen, mom immediately gushes about the food. "My word, it smells divine in here." She eyeballs the assortment of hors d'oeuvres I have laid out on the island.
"Try some," I offered. She immediately reached for the Bruschetta, as I assumed she would. The dreamy sigh that left her lips when she bit into the food made all of my nervousness vanish. Even if she didn't accept my choice, at least I knew it was, at that moment, pleasing to the only person that truly mattered.
"This is incredible, Leanna," my mother said in the most unladylike fashion, around a mouthful of food.
"I'm glad you like it," I answered with a tiny chuckle. "What about the grape leaves? You should try those next. Also, there's some baked Brie, some spicy shrimp with peanut sauce, and figs," I added as I pointed to the other side of the island.
"My goodness, child. You are going to make me fat," she huffed as she traipsed to the other side.
I handed her a small plate. "Help yourself. Dinner will be ready in about eight minutes."
"Who did you hire to make all of this incredible food? I really must hire them for my next event." Her eyes sparkled as she bit into the Brie and then sighed contently. "So perfect."
Ignoring her question, I went to the oven to check on dinner and then walked into the other room.
"Well? What is her reaction?" My friend Miles was almost more excited than I was.
"She is oohing and aahing over the appetizers as we speak." If there were a smiling contest, I would have won gold in that very moment. "Showtime, guys." We all headed into the dining room and my mother was escorted to her head-of-the-table seat.
"You all look so lovely. With this incredible food and such beautiful attire, I would say there is a celebration happening. Did I miss someone's birthday?"
"No, mom. You didn't miss any birthdays. I invited you here tonight to make a small announcement." I had to pause as the words snagged in my throat and anxiety took over for a few heartbeats. I shook it off, looked into my mother's eyes and said, "I am dropping out of law school." I knew that bomb would take a few minutes to sink in before she freaked out. I continued straight into the point. "I have never felt connected to it as you and dad have and while I love the justice system, it's not where my heart is."
She clasped her hands firmly in her lap. That was her steadying action. Boiling under the surface, but trying to appear calm was her strong suit. "And do you have other plans or do you plan to just live off of your inheritance and good looks?"
Miles stifled a laugh and Ruth smacked him for it.
I smiled and walked into the kitchen. Reappearing a moment later with dinner, my mom's favorite lobster ravioli in saffron cream sauce. I placed her plate in front of her as she looked at me with an annoyed grimace.
"This, mom. This is what I plan to do."
"Cook? You're going to sustain your life on making dinner? So a housewife, then?"
I rolled my eyes before I could stop myself. "Try the food, mom. Tell me if a housewife cooks like this."
She looked at me again before gingerly picking up her fork to take the first taste. As soon as it hit her lips, I knew I had her. Closing her eyes, she simply leaned back in the chair and savored the bite so slowly, it almost appeared as if she had fallen asleep.
When she finished, as everyone else sat on the edge of their seats, she asked, "Appetizers? All yours as well?"
She paused briefly before standing to hug me. "You are brilliant. This is incredible."
Tears burst from my eyes as I hugged my mother back. "Really?"
"Yes, of course. I'm so sorry I judged you. Dropping out of school is a big deal, but you can definitely do this. So proud of you."
"Thank you," I managed through tears. "I have started my own catering company actually." I reached under her placement and produced the card.
"Well, I know someone that will hire you for all occasions," she smiled and hugged me again before adding, "Can I finish my food now before it gets cold?"
Everyone at the table let out a happy sigh and agreed. "Yes please. Where is mine?" Miles asked first.
"I plated them all at once. Yours is in the kitchen. I don't have wait staff yet, so get to it." I sent a wink at my friend as he scrambled to gather plates for everyone else.
My mother raised her glass to toast. "To success… and happiness."
We all joined her, "Success and happiness!"