Good Old Bessie

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A house isn't a home until something sinister happens...

Submitted: November 02, 2011

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Submitted: November 02, 2011

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The smell is getting worse.

It hits me as soon as I get up, and grows stronger with every step I take towards the kitchen. I try to ignore it.

 “Morning, Walter,” I mumble as I trudge through the living room. He doesn’t move an inch.

He hasn’t moved from that damned armchair for five days now. He just parks there watching the same television channel in exactly the same position, day in and day out.

“You want something to eat?” I ask him from the kitchen. I’ve stopped expecting him to say anything. He’s been giving me the silent treatment ever since we had that horrible row, but I don’t care; he can suit himself.

I make myself bangers and scrambled eggs in silence. Walter’s not eating my food either. He just sits there in his armchair and ignores me. As I butter a slice of toast, I think I hear his voice for the first time in almost a week.

“Somebody’s going to notice pretty soon,” he says to me through the plywood wall.

The butter knife slips from my hand and lands with a clink on the kitchen floor. ‘That’s not possible. Walter’s not–‘

I stop the thought before it can fully breach my conscious. ‘Walter’s not speaking to me’; that’s a good replacement. Very slowly, I walk into the living room, and as I enter the stench hits me again. Walter is still sitting there in his favourite armchair, but now his cold, blank eyes are staring in my direction.

“You’ve never been good at keeping secrets,” he says; “You’ve never been good at anything, have you Bessie?”

I hate that name. I have told Walter almost every day for the twenty years that we have been married that I hate that name. My name is Bethany, not Beth or Betty or Annie, or Bessie. Bessie is a cow’s name.

“Do I look like a cow to you?”

His eyes don’t leave my face for a second as his mouth stretches into an uneven smile. He likes this joke. He gives me the same reply he’s given me every day for the twenty years that we have been married.

“Of course not, Honey,” he says, still smiling, “saying that would be unfair to cows everywhere.”

“Walter...” I begin. For the first time I’m not sure he’s joking with me. My hands are very quickly growing clammy with sweat. So is my face. As if on cue, Walter continues.

“I’m just playing with you, Darling. I’d never say that to you.” He is speaking incredibly slowly, as if sleepy or inebriated. “Granted, you are on the larger side of life, and you do have those awful buck teeth. Come to think of it, your face does remind me of some animal or another. What was it you called me, a sadistic pig? Well, I should give you a nickname too then, shouldn’t I?”

He is taunting me, the same way he does every other time he gets angry. How is he still taunting me? I ask him to stop, but he doesn’t. Walter doesn’t ever know when to stop. Tears are welling up in my eyes, but I cannot tell if I am crying or if it’s because of the horrible, choking stink around him.

I’m shouting now. “Shut up!” I yell. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” until my face is inches from his and I am screaming right into those empty eyes.

I grab hold of the carving knife and slash Walter across the face, cutting him off mid-sentence.

The gash barely bleeds at all, and he just sits there, still staring at me, silently.

I am calm now. In the absence of the carving knife, the foul brown liquid that has been collecting inside Walter for the past five days is oozing out.

I gag, and quickly replace the knife into the wound in his chest.

“That’s disgusting, Walter,” I spit as I walk towards the bathroom. I’ve got to get this blood off my hands.


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