the short story project


At A Funeral

I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink in a room thick with sorrowed people. Nasty looks from those in the cliché shade were addressed towards my unforgiving attire. His wife was especially cold, alert and scared of my prevailing color, probably wondered things about her husband she’d never know. Those bodies were unaware of who I was, and I was glad. I shouldn’t have been there, but I felt as though I had to pay my respects.

The coffin contained a handsome man that instantly flooded my mind with love and hate. I missed him, I couldn’t help it. Though, I must move on; the deed is done. My gaze caught a peculiar man; though I knew interaction with those at this funeral wouldn’t be in my best interest, there was something about him that made me want to investigate. He stood aloof and appropriately dressed, his eyes flexed over my outlandish presence.

I declared it as an invitation to get my mind out of its unpleasant fog. I curtsied and settled my back against the wall next to him. He instinctively shuffled over to face me.
“I feel like an oddball.” Up close I noticed his eyes were deep with an essence of comfort.
Flirtation was unmistakeable in his smirk, “I can understand why.” He simmered into a level of concern, “Did you know the deceased well?”
“Anthony…” Was my lover, my internal voice spoke, “was a dear friend.”
“Ah, I see. He was also my close friend…” He trailed off and I could tell his true answer would have been more complicated.

The hateful eyes lifted once I began to socialize with someone. Their judgment out of mind, I moved forward with my plan. My heart needed only one thing for this ache, and this funeral took a toll on my mood. I leaned in and lowered my voice, “Do you want to maybe, get out of here? It’s too sad for me.” His face burst in effortless surprise and nodded slowly, “Let’s go.”
The Rio Flamingo was, in its structure, not the most appealing part of my memories with Anthony. A loveable wreck in the center of town, it was the most gritty and convenient place to commit shameful acts. I smiled as I pulled into the parking lot, always welcomed by the half eroded neon sign that stood proud and unmaintained.

The man tensed as we passed the rickety greeting,
“Oh, have you been here before?” His eyes glossed over the sense of comfort I had noticed and became stale of emotion.
“Yes, well a few times. Please don’t take that the wrong way.”
“No, I understand. I’ve been here as well.” His eyes followed room numbers outside the window, “Always the same room.”

My nerves got intensified by the change of atmosphere. I parked the car and cleared my throat, “I’ll go get the room.” He waited for my return, his mind bonded with a world only he could see outside the window.
“One-oh-niine.” I fiddled with the key, “Ah, a corner room, those are nice.”
I tried to maintain a friendly appearance to overshadow my thoughts of guilt and his darkening presence. The door opened into the room with a loud creak. I inhaled the familiar musty smell as I turned on the light. My memories of this motel were vivid in reality.

I lost control over my posture and began to shake. I sat on the edge of the bed with my hands in my lap, unsure if I really wanted to go through with this. My eyes shifted towards his that were filled with remarkable sorrow. He decided in that moment to make his move, lips desperate to fill the void. I gave in and fought to have my emotions dominate his.

I had more reason to be upset than this man. This desperate, pathetic man, he didn’t know what I went through with Anthony. Guilt pressed its leathery hands against my temple and it was about to burst through. I forced myself off to the side and planted my face into the mattress.
“I did a terrible thing…” I muttered for forgiveness.
“Excuse me?”
I knew he didn’t hear so I rotated my head to be audible, “I did a terrible thing.” More confident since it was the second time spoken.
He hunched his back, stroked my leg and looked at me, “What could you have possibly done?” I felt him shake under his palm.
“Dimethylmercury … it kills slowly.” I shuddered, “I put it in his tea three months ago.” I laughed at my joy but recoiled at the sin, “He finally died.”
The man’s face watched mine as I stared back, unsure of why I would reveal my hideous truth.
“Who?” I waited a few beats until I answered, though I was sure he already knew who.
“Anthony. H-He was having another affair, I couldn’t handle it. He was my everything and I was supposed to be the one to set him free from his wife. His betrayal opposed all of that, so I did everything I could to make him love
me, only me, during his final days.” I groaned at my grotesque soul and let my eyes saturate the comforter. “I set him free. I’ve set that fucker free.”

His hand ceased comfort toward my leg but he remained seated, watchful. He cleared his throat and heavily released his lungs. “You know, I think I did more of a terrible deed.”
My exasperated eyes loomed at his leg that thumped up and down, his fingers tore at their dead skin.
“I had him in this room,” His words concise and patient, “this exact room, many times you see.” A twitch escaped him and he lost grip of his voice, “I stabbed his awful cheating heart with my best kitchen knife. I wasn’t his one and only. That…” He chuckled, in a way that consumed my entire body with realization and pure fear, “was not okay.”

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