the short story project


T. M. Edmonds

Spilled Coffee

        Eva hurriedly scrubbed her carpet, tears streaming her face. She didn’t want the stain to set and ruin her tan carpet. It truly wasn’t worth the effort if you took a look around her ratty apartment with the dingy wallpaper that was curling in the corners, the patchwork sofa adorning the tiny living room and the multitude of other stains already set into her carpet, but this particular stain had to go. Her daughter, Molly, would be waking up soon and she didn’t feel like explaining to her that sometimes mommies made mistakes; sometimes mommies did bad things. No, she couldn’t engineer an adequate response for her inquisitive five-year-old so early in the morning, so she continued to scrub with haste.

            A few strands of hair escaped her tightly pulled back ponytail, falling into her face. Oddly enough, that is exactly how her life turned out. She used to be the type of mom that would taxi around children when it was her turn for carpool duties, making snacks for seemingly famished young children, and settling disputes between friends. She lived a sad existence now that she couldn’t have imagined just a year prior, but the proof was in her current surroundings. The proof was in this nagging stain.

            Eva sat up on her knees, wiping the sweat that beaded up on her forehead with the back of her gloved hand. The stain was more stubborn than she anticipated. Looking straight ahead at nothing, in particular, she thought back to the cause of it and wept. She was a mess and it was evident in the way she approached life in a disconnected manner. Last night proved she had reached her wit’s end.

            He came in the middle of the night, much like a stranger coming to steal her meager belongings, but his condescending nature was all too familiar and he had already taken from her so much more than any material possession was worth. Her ex-husband, Paul, came rushing to her apartment under the pretense that Molly was ill around 3 am. She had practiced her speech a million times prior to calling him and asking him to rush over, but when he was in her presence, nothing came out.


           “Is Molly okay?” he asked, rushing into her apartment heading in the direction of their daughter’s bedroom.

            “She’s fine. Sleeping, actually,” Eva responded coolly. Paul turned to look at her and his eyes lit up in recognition of what was going on as if a battery were inserted into his back and his brain just started to power up.

           “Eva, you can’t keep doing this. We agreed things would be this way long ago. Stop fighting it!”

            “I didn’t agree Paul. You tricked me with your fancy words I couldn’t understand. And those ridiculous clauses in the prenuptial agreement,” she said. Eva thought of the agreement she signed and shook her head. Paul owned a small coffee franchise in their small town and wanted to protect everything he had acquired. So much so that he included clauses which said Eva would be entitled to nothing if she publicly defamed or embarrassed his business. She didn’t care about the money. It was their daughter she was concerned with. The agreement also stated that in the event they ever divorced, she’d relinquish full custody to him of whatever children they had and she’d have them for one day a week. She hadn’t known that when she stupidly signed, but she was made aware of that during their divorce proceedings. “I was only eighteen!”

            “You were an adult.”

            “You can’t keep doing this to me, Paul.”

            “What are you going to do about it, Eva? You have nothing.”

            “I was afraid you’d say that,” Eva said, pulling a small handgun out of the pocket of her tattered, blue robe. She shot him right in the head without blinking. It was as if she had a conjugal relationship with the gun and it did her bidding faithfully, as it dutifully vowed upon their union. 


            “Mommy,” Molly called, jarring Eva from her thoughts, “are you okay? What happened?” Eva smiled at her daughter pulling Molly close to her side, shielding her from the blood stain on the carpet right near her tiny feet, knowing that their exchanges would soon be nothing, but one consecutive lie after another. She hoped her daughter would someday understand and would maintain her jubilant nature.

            “Yes baby. Mommy is okay. I just, uh, spilled some coffee.”


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