Monster

He couldn’t face it. He couldn’t admit to himself what I’d become… No… What I was. I’d been like this before I met him. I thought (for some fleeting seconds) he would love me despite the fact I was the very thing he was fighting against. I was seduced by ‘love conquers all.’ It didn’t matter that I’d given up my life’s work to marry him. That I’d traded it all away to be a wife.

My life’s work was in fact the very bane of his existence. The joy I had in my work meant nothing to him. I represented everything he’d sworn to fight against.

This is why I hate honesty. Rather, I hate heroic honesty. You feel in order to live up to the world’s standards, you first have to live up to your own. Honesty. It forces you to grow a conscience, to be aware of your own faults. At least being truly honest does.

My husband, forever the fucking saint.

No. In that moment, when he walked in, paying witness to all, a part of me knew. I knew the instant he laid eyes on me that he was shocked. Disgusted and disappointed that I, the love of his life, was in the middle of killing a man. Myself, I was surprised to say the least. I could account for every situation, most all of them included some form of law enforcement. Yet low and behold, my husband walks in, gun in hand and ready to blow me away.

I froze. My mind was racing. You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes before you die? It’s actually your brain’s response to the sudden rush of adrenaline. The fight or flight response, you know? It’s not always your life. It could be anything. I saw my wedding. I saw my marriage falling apart, crumbling to the floor in ashes. In that instant, I did the one thing that had always worked in the past. I smiled at him.

“Hello, dear. Welcome back.” I stepped forward a smile on my lips and fear clutching at my heart.

But he didn’t step forward. He backed away from me. I saw it in his eyes. He didn’t see his loving wife, the mother of his children. A monster, an evil boogeyman thought of only in dreams. He was starring his worst and wildest dreams in the face.

My face fell. The breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding in come out in a ragged chuckle. Cold crept over me, and the fear melted and hardened in my heart. I set my face in a hard stare, my trademark, my challenge. This look that I was feared for was the same one I was currently showing to my husband. My lover.

My eyes whispered to him. I dare you. He dropped his eyes to the floor. He pulled his gun and leveled it at me. His face, when he looked back up, was a mask of pure concentration and fearless. His eyes gave away his inner thoughts. He was tormented. Fool, you left yourself wide open. As he fell to his knees, clutching his gut, he stared at me in shock.

“Why?”

You forced my hand. I cocked the gun, pulled back the hammer, and pulled the trigger. I didn’t realize I’d been crying until I felt the tears fall off my chin. I touched one gently, amazed. I hadn’t cried when my own mother been raped, tortured, and begging for death. Bitch had it coming though. I remember laughing after seeing after seeing her head jerk back in recoil.

Now, a mere stranger, one who shared a name with me, made me weep. This is why honesty is worthless.

*****

After I cleaned up and had the body moved, I felt numb. For the first time in many years I was at a loss. I had no clue what I was going to do. How do I tell my kids? What do I tell them? My mind whirled.

I vaguely recalled that my husband was still alive when he should have been taken care of. I searched my thoughts and one of them floated to the surface. A subordinate of mine was supposed to have taken care of it. I searched for a name, but none came to mind. From what his superiors told me, he was well worth his salt. And yet he hesitated when it mattered most.

Weakness. Failure. My rage flared in that instance. I kept the thought at the forefront of my mind and found my strength renewed. Had he had done what was asked, I would not currently be in this mess. For the life of me, I could not remember his name. That… piece of dog shit was the blight of my existence now. He would pay for my grief. Granted, he did nothing. That was the fucking problem.

First thing, I’d find him and have him dealt with personally I can be at ease with my thoughts. I could sleep for the night.

—Kathryn Wells