AMNESIA

AMNESIA

“Yesterday I killed a man.”

            I looked at the blonde woman who sat opposite me. Her hair was tightly twisted into a chignon, her complexion was icy white and her blue eyes just as cold. She was so prim and proper and her voice so smooth and controlled, I didn’t think anything could rattle her.

            “What?”

            “Yesterday I killed a man.”

            I glanced around the counseling room at old lamps, faded green walls, dusty curtains and the wavy glass of cheap windows in search of words that hid behind crooked pictures and inside unused wall sockets. I couldn’t sit here staring with my mouth gaping open like a sink hole. I had to say something.  It was my job to speak to people.

            “What?”  It was the only word I could manage.

I tried to still my sweaty hands but the movement raced through my entire body and turned me into a jiggling disaster, instead of the trained and experienced counselor I was supposed to be.

            “I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said, her voice slick as an ice rink. She twisted her long neatly manicured fingers at the level of her heart.  “He wouldn’t give me money for new clothes. He didn’t want me to go to work. He barely let me out of the house. I was his prisoner. I couldn’t take it anymore. So I killed him.”

            “How?” The word was a scratchy whisper so I tried it again, more clear and confident. “How did you kill him?”

            “Poison in his bedtime tea and a pillow over his face till he stopped breathing.”

            Her mouth puckered into a tiny smile, and her hunched shoulders relaxed.

            “Tell me more,” I prodded.

            I should call the police, but my first job was to address her emotional needs and she didn’t look like she was about to run away.

            “Tell me more.”

            She sat up straight and put her hands in her lap. Her composure scared me more than her confession.

            “You know,” she said, “you can’t survive a marriage when you’re not permitted to be the woman you were meant to be.” She licked her lips. Her raspberry colored lip gloss reflected the sunlight. “He wouldn’t listen to reason. He thought I was his china doll that he could keep on a shelf in his sacred study that he locked when he was at work. He took me out on certain occasions to show me off to his boss and colleagues at the law firm. He told me how to dress for those dinners and how to wear my hair. And when I tried to interject any of my own thoughts or ideas into a conversation, he cut me off. He angled his broad body in front of me to cut me out.”

            “That sounds a bit conflicting,” I said. “How can he cut you out and show you off at the same time?”

            Her smile tightened. “Amazing, huh? But he did it. I was to be seen but not heard.”

            “How long have you and . . . . By the way what was your husband’s name?”

            She shrugged one shoulder. “Doesn’t matter. We’ve been married five years.”

            “Any children?” I couldn’t bear the thought that some child would come home while this woman was talking to me and find her father dead.

            “No children.”

            “Go on.”

            She took a deep breath.

            “None of it matters now. It’s over, and I can get on with my life.”

            I swallowed the lump that swelled in my throat.

            “Where is the . . . umm, body now?”

            “That’s why I’m here,” she said. “I don’t know where I put it. I know he was dead, and I know I moved him out of the house, but I can’t remember what I did with him. I looked all over the yard and in the basement, but I can’t find him. I came here so you can help me get my memory back.” Then the ice queen crumbled. Her shoulders slouched like a deflated balloon and she covered her face with shaky hands. “I don’t know where the body is.”

GOING UNDERGROUND by Daniel Kuttner

GOING UNDERGROUND by Daniel Kuttner

SATURDAY HAIKU by Judie Maré

SATURDAY HAIKU by Judie Maré