They were woven with tasteful white lace. You could tell they were new because the bands were still taut and springy. The crotch covered with brightly coloured butterflies, wings outspread, floating over a baby blue field.
I found the panties in the back pocket of James’s work khakis, crumpled up inside the laundry hamper. It was a Sunday. He was out day-drinking at some microbrewery.
So, this is your special project. The one that’s been keeping you at the office so late.
I was irate. I wanted to hammer his watches into bits. Pour all his fancy whisky down the toilet. Set his Audi on fire.
I’d given all my best years to James. Spending Christmas with his alcoholic mom and politically stunted brothers. Doing his laundry and nursing his hangovers. I’d been a loyal girlfriend, fiancée, wife. Soon to be mother.
It’s not like I’d never been tempted, either. Like I haven’t had my opportunities over the years, ones I’d passed by with the nonchalance of passing a street busker. At this point, who knows what opportunities I’d get? Now that I was six months pregnant there was hardly any choice. Like it not, I was tethered to James for life.
Still, I wanted him to suffer. After careful contemplation I threw the panties into my bedside drawer. Then I loaded up the washing machine with the rest of our dirty clothes. I pictured them spinning around and around as I lounged on top of the bedcovers, listening to Nina Simone.
It was dark when James stumbled back home, perfumed with IPAs and menthol cigarettes.
“In here,” I yelled from the bedroom. “How was your day?”
“Hoppy. So much beer.”
I could hear him in the hallway, struggling to take off his boots. The telltale thrashing and swearing.
When he appeared in the doorway I was laying there on the bed – wrapped in my silk nightgown like a piece of candy – and as he took me in his eyes sparkled with desire.
“Still thirsty?” I said.
“Could do another.”
James unbuttoned his shirt with surprising dexterity. Next went his belt, then his underwear – completely oblivious to how unattractive he looked wearing nothing but socks.
He mounted the bed and slid his body towards me like a seal. Immediately he went for my breasts, then he began to migrate down to my belly, his beard prickling its way past my navel to deliver some half-hearted foreplay.
Eventually he found his way on top and initiated his awkward, drunken collisions – undoubtedly thinking of that girl from work. I did my best to feign engagement, even reciprocation, to which he seemed innately oblivious. The inebriated aloofness which I used to find so endearing now just came off like blatant solipsism. I felt like a corpse he was trying to bring back to life.
While James was out I went to the cemetery and stole flowers from the grave of a child. Afterwards, I headed to the market and bought chicken feet, mug wort, and cat’s claw. I had remnants of wormwood at home. There was just one more ingredient I needed for this to work.
The next moment I grabbed James’s back – pulling his body towards mine – and as I did I dug my fingernails deep into his white skin.
Hope you like it rough baby.
Numbed by lust and beer James barely reacted to the blood I drew, continuing his incessant crusade towards orgasm. Thankfully, it wasn’t long until he collapsed, and without missing a beat James rolled over on his side, surrendering to the sleep of the drunk.
After I was sure he’d passed out, I opened my bedside drawer and fished out the panties. Then I lowered the covers and wiped the crotch against the fresh scratches on his back, smearing the butterflies in James’s blood.
This should be enough, I thought as I rose out of bed. Careful not to disturb my sleeping husband.
The next day I read the local paper cover to cover. A young woman who plummeted down an empty elevator shaft in the middle of the night. Another one who drowned in the river. A building that went up in flames. Freak accidents – meaningless and unforeseeable. The Devil worked in mysterious ways.
James came home at six o’clock that day, quiet and dismal.
“Hey there. Thought you said you were working late tonight.”
“Change of plans,” he said, avoiding eye contact.
“I made your favourite. Lamb stew.”
We ate in silence, James looking downcast, eating practically nothing. I devoured the meal and got up to rinse my bowl before he’d even taken his second bite.
“Honey, could you take the clean laundry out when you’re done eating? I complete forgot about it last night.”
He glanced up at me then, and as he did, I thought I saw a tear shimmer in the corner of his eye.
“Alright,” he said, coughing to clear the lump in his throat. “You got it.”
George Oleksandrovych was born in Kiev, Ukraine, but has lived in Vancouver, Canada for most of his life. He has previously been published in East of the Web, Rejection Letters, Idle Ink, Fairlight Books, and others. He does his best writing after everyone else has gone to sleep. Check out his work at georgenev.blogspot.com.
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