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by Liz McAdams

Margo studied the frying pan in her hand — heavy cast iron with an ergonomic handle, a gift from her mother-in-law, and now spattered with blood and white flecks. Her husband sprawled across the kitchen floor, a gaping hole where the left side of his head used to be.

A carton of eggs sat waiting on the kitchen counter. They were supposed to have omelettes tonight; something quick and easy because Margo had book club and Dave was going out, somewhere. He said he had something to do over at a buddy’s house. Of course, he was going out to see her.

That was the tipping point, really. How much can one person stand? Days of folding socks and ironing, cooking meals and cleaning floors, only to be greeted with a perfunctory peck on the cheek, and listen to him talk about her. Sure, they worked together, and sometimes carpooled, leaving both earlier and later than was normally required.

Margo was no dummy. She could read between the lines.

Tonight was no different. When she was bent over the stove, preheating the frying pan, and asked about his day, she saw that faraway look in his eyes; his mind elsewhere. Standing in the kitchen, loosening his neck tie, impenetrable distance stretched between them.

So she asked directly, and got the same answer as before. They were just friends.

She didn’t remember swinging the frying pan, the sick wet thud of impact or the whoosh as air rushed from his lungs as he sank to the floor. But here she was now. Her husband stretched across the freshly mopped floor, a mixture of blood, white chunks and yellowish liquid leaking from his head.

Stepping around bodily fluids, Margo went to the sink and washed the frying pan, watching red and white matter spiral down the drain, then returned it to the baker’s rack beside the stove. A gift from her husband a couple of years ago, and very handy for storing all her pots and pans in the tiny kitchen.

It was time to get moving. Book club started in an hour, and tonight’s topic was the latest murder mystery.

She grabbed her purse and wallet, checking to make sure her phone was with her. Locked the house, then headed to the local convenience store. Small store tucked in a suburban strip mall; Margo greeted the clerk by name, and bought a dozen eggs. Made small talk about the weather, then returned home.

Opening the front door, she tripped the alarm, and telephoned the alarm company. Apologized for yet another false alarm, and then, while still on the phone with the representative, walked into the kitchen, carton of eggs in her hand.

She screamed, dropping a dozen eggs on the tile floor.

***

When the police came, Margo sat in the living room, staring into space while the officers stomped around the kitchen, crushing eggshells beneath heavy boots. She listened to hushed conversation. No forced entry, suspect known to victim, probably—

Margo looked up as the young officer walked into the living room and patted her shoulder, offering murmured consolations, and asked if she had family or friends she could stay with tonight.

She shook her head no.

“Why don’t you come down to the station for a bit, maybe talk to somebody there. Terrible shock. Not good to be alone,” the officer said, glancing back into the kitchen, eyeing the full carton of eggs still sitting on the kitchen counter.


Liz McAdams is a writer living in the wilds of Canada with a couple of black cats and a laptop (the wifi’s pretty good in the boonies). Her stories appear on Yellow Mama and Spelk, and are floating around the universe in various forms. Current projects include two novels and a memoir. A true romantic, Liz embraces themes of loss, love, and change — all with a twist of darkness or something else entirely. https://lizmcadams.wordpress.com/.

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