What You Didn’t See Coming (Short Story)

October is the month of Halloween, ghosts, pumpkins and just general… autumn depression. So here we have a story that fits the mood.

„Your wife is sleeping with my husband.“

Granted, these weren’t the words I had planned to start out with. I don’t even think these words were anywhere in the speech I had prepared and said out loud in the mirror several times. But right there, sitting in your office — all glass and metal and tasteful, fancy black-leather furniture — these were the words I opened with.

Your wife is sleeping with my husband.

I found out only the week before through a hotel matchbook in a jacket pocket — the classic, isn’t it? A jacket I was throwing in the wash with a couple of my blouses. For work, he said. He’d need it for work, which he’d been coming home late from these last few months. He was up for a promotion, he’d say, and I’d leave a plate of home-cooked dinner for him in the oven, ready to be heated up. Because I was his wife and that’s what wives do for their husbands.

You were sitting across from me in that office, in a comfortable black leather chair that swiveled as you assessed me. I immediately felt a tad uncomfortable and only barely resisted touching my hair to check that my bun was still in place. You pressed your lips together right after the words had come out of my mouth and then you sighed.

„I was wondering when you’d show up,“ you said then.

If you’d ask me now — which you won’t, of course — I’d say that this was the moment I first had the thought. Until then, you’d been a victim, like myself. Unbeknownst to you, I thought, you were wronged by the person you treasured most in life.

But at that moment, I realized that wasn’t true.

„Well,“ I said, „what are you planning on doing about it?“

I had come here, to your office, to enlist your help. You and I, we were kindred spirits. Surely you’d have already thought of a plan to end the affair. Surely, you were about to confront your wife with your knowledge and demand she stop it. You had known about it for however much longer than I and even I already had considered several options.

But you laughed. You didn’t even deign my question with an answer, you only shook your head.

„My wife,“ you said, after several bursts of laughter, „does as she pleases.“

You got up then and opened the door motioning for me to leave. If you asked me now — which we already established you won’t — I’d say that this was the moment the thought manifested.

If only you hadn’t thrown me out of your office so callously. None of this would have had to happen.
I came home that day to a message on the answering machine.

„I’m sorry hun, but I’ll have to stay late again. This project is breaking my back, I tell you. Don’t wait up for me.“

He used to say he loved me at the end of every message. He also used to call my cell phone to tell me he was late. How had I not seen this earlier?

I deleted the message and sat in the kitchen until it got dark. I don’t remember what I did or what I thought about. I only remember thinking that this kitchen table was a wedding gift of his parents and that, surely, I would have to give it up when we divorced.

I wondered if you’d sat at your kitchen table the same way when you found out. And then I realized that you weren’t like me. You didn’t care.

When my husband came home that night, there was no dinner plate in the oven to be heated up. He didn’t ask for one, either.


Right now, as I am remembering that day in your office, everything is already done. Even if I wanted to spare you I couldn’t.

It’s a beautiful night. Especially out here at the cabin my husband and I bought only a year after we were married. We were going to take our kids here once a year to show them the treasures of nature. We’d always wanted kids, but he was always saying things like, „Now is not a good time.“ and „Work is really busy right now.“ He kept promising „next year“ as if having children weren’t a time sensitive issue. I guess it’s too hard to leave your wife when you have kids.

I have to admit, I was amazed by how easy it was to borrow your car. I’ve driven it past the cabin out of immediate sight. But of course, still close enough for CSI to find its tracks. My husband’s car is at the cabin right now, your wife’s heels still left in the passenger’s seat. It appears as though getting inside was more important than where her shoes end up. They have all weekend. And yet, they couldn’t wait 30 seconds.

I can’t remember the last time 30 seconds seemed too long to wait. Can you?

I’m afraid it’ll take longer than 30 seconds for the venom to get into their bloodstreams. Of course, based on their activities, time of death may vary. But it is inevitable nonetheless.

I’m sure you read that report on your desk about the neurotoxins contained in the drug your company is testing? Borrowed that, too, I admit. Interesting read. Especially for someone who once planned a career in drug development before she got married and planned on having kids that never came.

Anyway, those neurotoxins are what cause the headaches in most of your test subjects. Chances of 1 in 100? Terrible for the marketability of your product. But I’m telling you, for me, those neurotoxins are a fine thing.

With just the right dose, you can kill a man right away.

Or you can make him suffer.

I’m told that by the end, it feels like a bomb inside your skull. In slow motion.

I’d ask you if that was true, but by now you’re probably already gone.

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One thought on “What You Didn’t See Coming (Short Story)

  1. Pingback: October Roundup: Of All The Things I Haven’t Done | Words I Weave

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