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by Santino Prinzi

Mae hated making bread, but she made it for her husband every morning. She would knead the dough in the bowl he bought her for their first wedding anniversary and ever since expected fresh bread made every morning. It was fun, at first, but Mae could never make it right. Try again, he’d laugh.

He didn’t laugh anymore.

The dough was ready to be left to rise when Mae could hear him coming down the stairs. He was awake earlier than usual. The bread wouldn’t be ready. Mae grasped the edges of the bowl. She saw him open the kitchen door in the reflection of the window.

“No bread?”

He was advancing. Mae gritted her teeth; months of planning down the drain. Her mother would be so ashamed of her if she could see her now — how she’d broken her promise.

“Think I’m stupid, do you?” He stood behind her, his breath caressing the back of her neck. “I kno–”

He was on the floor, silent. He wasn’t breathing. Thick blood oozed from his head like a slow motion ripple. Shattered pieces of bowl lay scattered across the tiles.

“Deal with the problem, get rid of it, make sure it doesn’t come back,” Mae whispered to herself. This was not how she had planned her morning to go but it would have to do.

***

It was a Friday afternoon in the autumn of ‘72 and Mae did not want school to finish. She walked the long way home and, when she stopped at her front door, she could hear nothing. She let herself in.

It had been a long time since Mae had experienced the calm feeling that stilled the house in that moment. She could hear her Mum bustling around in the kitchen. It sounded like she was chopping some meat — Mae hoped it was beef. She’d barely dropped her rucksack when her Mum strode into the room waving a meat cleaver. The bright blood smiled from the blade’s edge.

“Hi, Mum.”

“Hi, sweetie, how was your day?”

“It was okay. Where’s Dad?”

“He’s not going to bother us again.” Her Mum knelt eye level with Mae. “Mae, listen to me: don’t you let anyone treat you how Daddy treated me, okay? Deal with the problem, get rid of it, make sure it doesn’t come back. Promise me you’ll do this.”

“Yes, Mum.”

***

Mae rested the mop and bucket against the kitchen wall. She dipped her rubber gloved hands into the steaming sink. Raising the meat cleaver from the water she inspected it closely in the morning light before resting it on the drying rack.


Santino Prinzi is an undergraduate student at Bath Spa University studying English Literature with Creative Writing. His flash fiction and prose poetry has been published or is forthcoming in the 2015 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology LandmarksFlash Fiction Magazine, FlashFlood JournalUnbroken Literary Journal, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and others. You can check him out at https://tinoprinzi.wordpress.com/ or follow him on Twitter: @tinoprinzi.

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