A short story written by Siobahn Harris 2/12/2018
Examining a pair of black slacks hanging neatly from a wire hanger, Mark’s face twisted into a scowl. Funeral pants, he thought. Sliding them off the hanger, he slipped into them and then plopped down onto the edge of his bed. With his head in his hands, his dark curly hair tumbled through his fingers. His stomach turned thinking about the date he was preparing for with Sarah. She said he should dress fancy but wearing the pants he only ever wore to funerals seemed a bit too fitting, considering he was planning on breaking up with her tonight.
Sliding off the bed Mark let out a groan as he snatched a dark blue button up shirt out of his tiny closet. His feet made a scuffing sound as he made his way into the hallway. Standing in front of the long mirror that hung at the end of his hall, his shoulders dropped, “Check you out. You’re an asshole.”
His eyes dropped to the chunky silver watch his father bought him last Christmas. That was a great day, he thought. The snow had fallen heavy the night before, everyone gathered around the fireplace to open presents, it was like looking at a Christmas card. That was the year he had finally taken Sarah to meet his family and they loved her right away. His eyes closed tightly as he let out a sigh, “Let’s just get this over with.”
The walk from the back of his house to the front door seemed like forever. His face grew hot with every step but then he thought, maybe it won’t be so bad, we’ve grown distant so maybe she feels the same way.
Mark coasted his old Jeep into Sarah’s driveway much like an undercover cop that didn’t want to be spotted. On the drive over, he took every side street with the hopes of stalling a bit but all he did was turn a five-minute drive into ten-minutes. He was, however, thankful for the old tourist group who took their time crossing the road in front of him but now he was kind of wishing there was more of them. As he sat in his rusty old Jeep, his eyes scanned the outside of her house. She had a large beautiful two-story house that was left to her by her grandparents. Mark chuckled as the word, spoiled, popped into his head.
Making his way up the flower lined walk, Mark stopped. His head dropped to the yellow blooms at his feet, “Weeds.” Sarah was the only person he knew that purposely grew dandelions. She said something about them being her good luck charm.
He remembered how on their second date he quickly grabbed a handful of the glorified weeds and gave them to her. In the light of her porch, he could see they were dandelions and was immediately embarrassed. He came up with a lie about how he saved her garden from the “ugly plant” but she pointed out that she only planted dandelions. It became one of those cute stories they told everyone.
His stomach began doing flips as he held his hand up to the doorbell. It’s for the best, he felt his finger press the small lit button that lie in center of a Victorian themed doorbell cover. Mark hoped there was a small chance that she wouldn’t be home but just as the knot in his stomach began to release the door swung open.
Standing there looking more beautiful than normal was Sarah. Her short red dress wafted in the wind of the opening door. Her long sandy hair snuggled up against the side of her head in a perfectly messy bun with a lock of it over her eye. In that moment, Mark’s eyes caressed every inch of her and he began to wonder why he was doing this.
Stop it, man! the voice inside finally spoke up. You only want her now because you are breaking up with her. You don’t love her, she deserves better than that. His eyes locked onto a weird metal and plastic item in her hand. It looked to Mark like a hair brush made of knives.
Sarah’s gorgeous smile quickly melted into concern, “You’re early!”
Mark couldn’t stop looking at the thing she was gripping, “What the hell is that?”
“It’s only 5 o’clock, baby, we said 7.” Sarah leaned in and kissed him. Holding up the strange object, she said, “This? You bought me this.”
“I think I would remember buying you the worst hairbrush in the world!”
“Hairbru.. what? Oh stop! It’s a meat tenderizer. A Jaccard to be exact.” Sarah turned and walked into the house and Mark followed closing the door behind them.
“And I bought you that?”
“Well, yeah, sort of. Remember that gift card you got me for my birthday?”
“This is what I bought! I thought it would be nice for our fancy dinner if I used it for the first time. But baby, you’re way early! Nothing is really done yet.”
“That’s okay. Would you like some help?” Mark started making his way into the kitchen, but Sarah quickly stepped in front of him.
“No, no. This is supposed to be romantic. I wanted to do it all. You can sit here and keep me company while I work, how’s that?” Sarah grabbed one of the high back dinning room chairs and gave the cushioned seat a quick pat. Her large brown eyes held a tint of red in the light of the dining room.
Mark plopped down into the floral print chair as Sarah made her way into the kitchen. His chair was facing the kitchen but from his angle all he could see was her shadow dancing around in the florescent light above her.
Sarah’s voice called out, “Sweetie, is there something on your mind? I mean, showing up early is great but this early isn’t like you.”
She was right, if anything, Mark was more known for being a little late. He knew that showing up this early might be an issue, but he couldn’t wait anymore. If he could he would have showed up at 11am to get this over with.
His eyes dropped to his hands that were fiddling with the lacey white tablecloth. With a sigh he said, “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I just.. well, I needed to talk to you about something, but it can wait until afte..”
Sarah came bouncing out of the kitchen with the Jaccard still in her hand, now slightly pink from the meat she was beating into submission. Her face was lit up as if she was expecting some wonderful news. Mark’s heart sunk. They had been together four years, he knew exactly what she was expecting.
“I, uh, I know we’ve been together a long time.”
“Yes… Going on five years now, baby.” A huge smile crossed her face and her legs seem to be having trouble staying still.
“Right,” Mark’s head dropped to his feet, “Look, I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I think that we should…” Lifting his head his eyes locked onto hers. The voice inside spoke up again, like a band-aid. “I think we need to break up.”
Mark’s eyes widened as he watched Sarah’s reaction, or more like, no reaction. She stood there gawking at him. Her plush crimson lips gaping. Her arms hanging like two deflated balloons weeks after a party ended.
Mark thought it best to continue, “Sarah, I think you’re wonderful and that’s why this needs to happen. I’m not in love with you but I know you will find a great guy who will be! I don’t want to hold you back from the wonderful life you could have.”
Mark’s gaze fell back to his feet as his words kept pouring out, but they seemed lost on Sarah whose eyes looked glossy and began to widen. The more he spoke the more tense she became. Her chest began to rise and fall faster and faster, and her once hanging mouth slowly curled into a snarl.
“…so, I just think this is for the best, don’t you?” Mark lifted his head to see Sarah standing over him panting. Her right arm was lifted over her head tightly gripping the Jaccard he bought her. Her unblinking eyes were wider than he had ever seen but somehow vacant. Before he could realize what was happening, Sarah slammed the Jaccard down onto his face. Blood sprayed across her already red dress leaving a dark pattern. Mark let out a gurgly scream. His hands trembled uncontrollably as he reached up towards his face. Sarah watched a thick flow of blood pour out from under the meat tenderizer still pressed deep into his left eye and cheek. Her fingers tightened down on the tool and she snatched it out of his face, yanking his head towards her. She quickly lifted her arm again and slammed the Jaccard down onto his face again with a squishing thud. Sarah’s hand kept lifting and slamming down onto Mark’s face, head, and the hand that strained to block the blows. The room around them, decorated for a romantic candlelit dinner, now painted in a bright red. Mark’s screams faded into watery groans and choking sounds as his still twitching hands dropped to his sides. The room fell silent.
Sarah’s arms dropped to her sides as she stared at, what used to be, Mark’s face but now just a tangle pile of flesh, blood, and hair. Her eyes fluttered, and she shook her head as she reached down and fluffed her blood-soaked dress. She slowly made her way back into the kitchen. Under the bright light, her eyes locked onto the tool still in her hand, red and dripping. She grabbed a long dark curl that was tangled in the blades and pulled it out, dropping it onto the floor. Turning back to her dinner, she began tenderizing the meat again.