How it Happens by Helen Chambers

This is how it will happen. Wearing black, I will slip on gloves of the softest, supplest leather, then I’ll soundlessly turn my key in the lock. He never bothers to slip the bolts. The lock will be silent because I had a trial run yesterday while they were out. I oiled the hinges, to be safe. You can’t be too careful.

I’ll step down into the kitchen, onto the flagstone floor which was what sold the property to me in the first place, and creep around the pine table I so lovingly stripped. There may be residual heat from the Aga, so I won’t touch. Pausing only to check that two wineglasses stand next to the sink, and the empty bottle of red I left them on the counter, I will feel my way into the pitch-black hall. The temperature should drop slightly.

 Tracing my hands along the walls on either side, gentle as a lover’s touch, I will reach the bedroom door. There I will wait, breathing calmly to settle myself. Listening carefully, I will grip the brass doorknob and turn it without letting it slip back and click.

I won’t wake them; especially not her. He will sleep on his back, on the far side. I will need to tiptoe round, but a little light creeps in around the curtains. If not, I will need to slide them open a fraction, so I waxed the wooden rail last week. 

Bile might rise in my throat when I see them together. I must be prepared for this. I may wish to cry, and will stop to breathe my calming breaths. But they won’t see me: they won’t hear me. He never will, and she won’t wake now. Not until the dawn light sneaks in and the drug from the wine wears off. Then she will wake in a tangle of blood-soaked sheets and the knife will be on the floor beside her, with her prints on the handle.

I will be long gone, like a shadow at night, and she will carry the guilt and the shame. 

Helen Chambers is a short story and flash fiction writer from North East Essex, UK, who dreams up ideas whilst out walking by the river. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Essex and she won the Fish Short Story prize in 2018. Helen has several publications, many of which you can read on her blog:

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