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The Drop

by Ed Aymar

It was the type of gesture Mark probably didn’t even realize he had done, a harmless squeeze of her ass. But it made Sharon so angry that, suddenly, she could barely see and she paused, leaning halfway out of bed, as if in the middle of a fall.

“I’m getting some water,” Sharon said, her voice thick, and she swung her feet to the floor and padded downstairs to the kitchen, leaving the lights off.

She had found out a month ago about his affair. She hadn’t told Mark she knew; her nature wasn’t confrontational. She wondered if he knew that about her, and if that had made his lies easier. Sharon had long suspected Mark might have come close to betraying her. His willingness to flirt had always quietly aggravated her but she had never thought he crossed the line, actually felt another woman’s flesh.

The note Sharon had accidentally found made it clear that he had. I need to see you again the woman had written and, when Sharon read that, something in her broke and bled.

The kitchen floor was cold under her feet. Sharon stood still, gazing through the window in the kitchen door, at the blackness beyond. Ever since she had read that note she had a habit of coming down here and staring into the night, letting her emotions float away. It made her feel like she was slowly dying. It made her feel good.

She opened the refrigerator, blinking in the sudden white light, and took out a pitcher of water. She filled a glass and drank and thought about the note and the woman who had written it — this was all Sharon ever thought about now, crazily, obsessively — and wondered how long the affair had lasted.

She wondered when Mark had first slept with this woman, and how often. She wondered where they liked to meet: a cheap motel, a nice hotel, perhaps this house when Sharon was at work.

She wondered if he loved the woman, or if it was just sex, or if it was sex nudging toward love. She wondered if the woman was single or married or had children. She wondered if the woman was beautiful. She wondered what the woman thought of her.

Somewhere distant, she wondered if her imagination was getting the best of her.

She had spent her last few weeks at work — she was a clerk for the Sheriff’s office — fighting back hot tears, sometimes silently shedding them in a tiny bathroom stall. Two days ago, a small dog had run up to her barking outside of a store and she had kicked it in the stomach.

And last night she and Mark had been leaving a restaurant and he had touched her arm and she fiercely pulled away. Mark seemed surprised but hadn’t broached the matter further, as if he suspected she suspected, but preferred to allow this impasse. He was content to ignore her distance and her silence. Her pain.

Sharon trudged back upstairs. It was only when she felt water slosh over her hand that she realized she was still holding the pitcher. This had been happening to her as well, an absence of thought, a moment lost, like staring into that black night and disappearing inside it.

Mark lay reposed, scratching himself loudly.

Why? That single word was the single question she wanted to ask.

“Hey,” Mark asked, snapping his fingers and reaching for the water with his free hand, “plan to share?”

Again, it was the kind of thing Mark probably didn’t realize he had done, a careless gesture, but Sharon drove the heavy glass pitcher down into his face.

And then she did it again before he could fight back, and again and again, until finally the thick glass seemed to explode in her hands. She listened to herself, crying like a terrified infant.

Mark’s face had dissolved beneath her, and her nightgown was wet, and her hands were wet, and blood and water ran down crevices of the pillow and seeped into the sheets.

A lake was a half-hour away. She could take his body and the bed sheets and pillow and dump it all in the water, weight it with stones and report him missing. Sharon was surprised to discover that she was growing calm, as if these were plans she had already made.

She imagined the policemen interviewing her and practiced lying, conjuring different expressions: worry, fear, panic, feeling her face contort (although, actually, her face didn’t move at all). She wondered where her emotions were. Her feelings seemed remote, as if they were regarding her from above, unsure of which should be the first to descend.

Later, the police would pull Sharon over after watching her car swerve across the road. And when they questioned her, after finding Mark’s body wrapped in a bloody bed sheet and tucked inside the trunk, they would ask her why.

And Sharon would stare down at the interrogation table, into its scarred wood, and her nails would dig into her palms.

But in the present moment, Sharon knew that whatever she was going to do, she had to do it soon. She reached back to Mark’s body with one arm and set the broken pitcher on the floor with the other, and a drop of blood plopped into the center of a small pool of water, stretching to the edges, discoloring everything in its path.

Copyright © 2008 by Ed Aymar

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