by Malcolm Twigg

It would be so easy - and so much tidier than the other way, so many loose ends to tie up, bickering over who had what, the house to sell, another home to find that was anywhere near affordable and half decent. The recriminations from his family as well - it would be bound to be her fault. No. She couldn't face that, it would be all too ... messy. She visualised life without Harry and found the prospect tantalising. But it would have to be on her own terms, and divorce could never be that, not with everything and everyone against her, as would be the case. She couldn't have coped. Of that much she was certain.
Funny, she had never really thought of herself as a murderer. That was something that other people became. Evil people. And she wasn't evil. She didn't think so, anyway. Harry was. He didn't even like the cats, and that was sufficient indication in her mind. He always made everything so untidy as well - and she couldn't abide mess. Clothes left where they had dropped. Why, she had even found a dirty sock behind the toilet the other day! That reminded her, she really must get some foot-powder and start dusting his socks again. He never would. But no. She wouldn't have to now, would she? She was forgetting.
Harry hadn't always been evil, of course. Not in the early days. But 20 years of swilling beer had made him fat, and that wasn't nice. She couldn't stand things that weren't nice. And the language. The coarseness had titillated her once, had appealed to the rougher side of her dormant sexuality, but that had inevitably passed with the reality of life with Harry, with his cigarettes and his beer and his silly laugh.
She couldn't quite remember when it had all started to go wrong. A long time before her problem certainly, and afterwards she couldn't bear him near her, so his nights at the Club had become longer and longer. And he wasn't capable when he came back, so that was all right.
She suspected that he's had other women, and good luck to them, vile creatures. Of course, he'd always protested his innocence - but she knew!
What really did upset her, even more than his untidiness, was his vindictiveness. And he knew it, the pig. He waited until she was out of the room and she swore that he deliberately moved the ornaments she had spent hours carefully arranging, just so. Only a fraction, mind, because she had measured, but it spoilt it, and she had to start all over again because ... someone else had touched them. And clean them too! As if she didn't have enough to do. That was really, really, wicked. And he always swore at her, saying he hadn't touched them at all. And then he cleared off to the Club, coming back reeking of drink and smoke and dropping ash all over the carpet and trying to force himself on her and failing and ... she caught her breath, the tea towel screwed into a tight ball between her spasmed fingers, her face alive with uncontrolled emotion.
Keep calm. Don't let it show. It wouldn't do. Take another tablet. There. That's better. It was all stored away in her memory, just waiting for the day of reckoning. He didn't know, of course. Nor their friends. Oh yes, they knew about her problem, of course, but that was over years ago and no-one ever mentioned it now. But she kept her secrets very well. That was something she had learned to do.
Their friends knew that things weren't quite right, but on the surface they were just another middle-aged couple too used to each others' company - Marjory had said as much only the other day! If you could call Harry company, that is. Oh, she was always careful not to let too much slip to Harry. I wouldn't do to let him know about her plans so she played it cool, just remaining civil enough to let things tick over but sufficiently withdrawn and aloof to keep him on his mettle. Yes, she knew how to handle Harry all right. When he was there.
All she had to do was to hint at her problem coming back. Just hint, that's all. That brought him to heel quick enough. It was almost like the old days then. She remembered when ... when what? What was it she was thinking about? Harry? Harry. Yes. She was going to kill Harry. That was it! He'd almost got away with it again that time! Tears ran down her face unnoticed. Dear, sweet Harry, who was never there, the pig! She wiped away her tears in surprise. Had he made her cry again? But he wasn't here now, was he?
She knew how she was going to do it this time. It wouldn't be like before. This time it would work. Of course, Harry didn't know about the other times. Well, it wouldn't have done would it? He would have sent her away again. That's why she had to hide herself behind a mask of innocence. Bide her time. Bide her time.
It needed very careful planning, but she knew how it could be done. She was amazed that she hadn't thought of it before. The preparation was the tricky bit, she had almost fallen herself, but it had to be believable, and she congratulated herself on how well it had worked. Harry even thought it had been his fault, so he felt bound to do something about it.
It was the decorating! The paint that had mysteriously got splashed all over the wall paper. She hugged herself in glee and chuckled. It was a pity she's only been able to reach one length of paper over the top of the banisters, two would have been better, it would given more time, but the paint had made such an awful mess that he'd have to take the paper off. She'd make him. It would bring her problem back having to look at that mess. He thought he'd splashed it, that was the joke! He always was such a messy painter. She was forever telling him.
She wouldn't be able to do anything while the paper was coming off, though. She's have to shut herself away for that. All that mess. Beads of sweat broke out on her forehead at the thought and she clutched the teatowel closer to her thin chest. Better not to think about it. Think about something nice. Stew and Dumplings. That was nice. She could smell it cooking now. She'd have to go down to see to it soon. It was Harry's favourite. And her's. She'd loved it ever since she was a little girl. Her mother had made it specially for her ... she missed her mother.
Tears started from the corner of her eyes. She was all alone now. No-one to look after her. She sat hunched on the top stair, rocking gently, and the tears flowed more freely down her face. It had been easy, but she hadn't thought it would make so much mess, or noise. They must had heard it next door. Nosy lot!
She wiped away her tears with the crumpled teatowel. Harry! Get up Harry! Come on, your tea'll be ready soon. But he just lay there at the bottom of the stairs staring at her over his shoulder, all funny, not saying a word. He must have hurt his leg because it was bent crooked, all wrong, and the step ladder was lying across it. But he didn't cry out. He was brave!
The freshly pasted wallpaper slowly peeled off the wall right at the top of the stair well and curled its way down. Ooh Harry. Quickly. The paper's coming off. Hurry up!
She sat on the top step hugging herself and gently rocking to and fro, watching the wallpaper inch further down the wall. It reached the plank lying skewed against the banisters and stopped, collapsing softly around itself. As it settled in gentle folds, she jerked her head back to the bottom of the stairs.
"Harry! No!"
Her scream reverberated around the narrow confines of the stair well and she stood rigid, hands entwined in her hair. She screamed again and made to run down the stairs to her dead husband, but she felt her legs slide from beneath her. From the corner of her eye, she glimpsed the loaded paste brush skid from underneath her feet to flop down the stairs. The stair well turned frantic, agonising cartwheels as she bounced heavily from stair to stair, breaking her flailing arms like matchwood and cutting off her final shriek of fear and remorse as her neck snapped and her broken body came to rest on top of Harry, sprawled in a last grotesque embrace.
It had been much too easy.

ENDS © M Twigg

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