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One Simple Decision

The candle flickered, swaying back and forth, back and forth. The open window sent a breeze through the room, causing Mary Maloney to shiver. She cradled a blanket over her frail body, and snuggled close to the couch to keep warm. Normally, she would have gone to close the window but, today she was lost in thought. She stared into the picture, directly into the eyes of Patrick, her dead husband. She missed him dearly, his love, his smile, his laugh. She remembered one time when she was sick, Patrick took the whole day off just to be with her. He tucked her tightly into her soft, warm bed and brought her homemade hot chocolate. She was crying now, looking closely at his mischievous smile, she hugged the thin paper. Then she realized that was the same smile he had on his face the day he told her about his affair. Her mood changed instantly, her anger boiled like a volcano ready to explode at any given moment. With each second that ticked by she got more upset and angry. She threw the blanket across the room and jumped off the couch, still clutching the photo. She tore it to microscopic pieces and threw it into the fire. She watched her husband’s smile turn to ashes, and then she sobbed, holding herself tightly.

“Mom! I’m home!” Jean Maloney yelled. No one answered. She walked to the kitchen to grab a snack, when she spotted her mother curled up in a ball like a rollie pollie. She was quivering back and forth on the shaggy carpet floor. “Mom?” she yelled beginning to get worried.

Jean Maloney was Mary’s only child. Yet, she looked nothing like her. She had deep masculine features and hair as black as the midnight sky without the moon, just like her father. She was seventeen and still living at home. Although she didn’t need the money, she worked at Quincy’s, a restaurant downtown.

Mary Maloney jumped at the sound of Jean’s voice. She checked her watch 5:34, she wasn’t expected Jean until 6 o’clock. She leaped up from off the floor, and rushed to hug her daughter. “How was work?” she asked as if nothing happened.

“It was fine. But, are you okay?” she asks concerned. “I saw you on the floor, and I just didn’t know what to do…” She was crying now. “You scared me.”
***

Mary had always been careful about what she did around Jean. She hardly ever looked at pictures of her husband, afraid that she would breakdown. When Jean would ask about her father, she would give short responses. “He died.”

“I know that,” Jean would reply, “But, how?”

“I don’t know, I found him on the ground dead.”
Jean knew there was more to the story but, she never pushed beyond that simple explanation. She was terrified by what she would find out. To her, lies were easier to accept than the truth.
***
Jean kept on crying. Mary just stared at her, she made no attempt to comfort her, she simply stood there. Seconds passed by, every second added to a minute. When it seemed like a life time passed by, Jean asked, “What happened?”
What happened? What happened? Mary pondered these thoughts trying to come up with a reasonable explanation. But, the truth kept on popping up. She remembered holding the frozen lamb leg, and how the cold ice melted in her hand. She could still see his lifeless body lying on the ground, his head smashed in slightly. She couldn’t tell Jean the truth…nor could she? Her breathing started to quicken, and her hands were wet with sweat. She started to fidget, unable to keep still. She began to open her mouth but nothing came out, so instead she reached for the freezer door. And pulled out a leg of lamb. “Honey how does lamb sound for dinner? Mary asked her curious daughter with a devilish smile, “And we can talk after dinner.”
“Alright, and you promise to tell me everything?”
“Yes, everything.” Mary spent the most time a woman has ever taken to cook a piece of lamb, making extra sure that the meat was properly prepared. Once dinner was over Jean decided it was time to talk. But, Mary still couldn’t find the words to say, all she could mutter was one word, lamb.
“Yeah Mom, the lamb was excellent,” Jean said, “But what does that…” Mary cut her daughter off before she could finish.
“I KILLED YOUR FATHER! HE WAS CHEATING. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? HUH? HUH? SO I JUST TOOK THE LAMB, HIT HIM ACROSS THE HEAD AND KILLED HIM. THE POLICE! HAH I LAUGH AT THEM, IDOITS ALL OF THEM. THEY NEVER FOUND OUT.” Mary shouted all in one breathe.
Jean’s thoughts swirled around in her head like a monstrous tornado sucking up every piece of information she could get. She was silent for a while, then spoke slowly, “I understand.” Then she walked to her room calmly and stayed there for the rest of the night.
Mary laid in her bed unable to sleep. No matter how matter how many times she tossed and turned, she couldn’t get comfortable. She couldn’t excuse her thoughts either. Would Jean turn her in to the police? Would there relationship ever been the same? When the clock struck 3 o’clock, Mary gave up on sleeping, and went for a walk.

The next morning Mary made her daughter her favorite breakfast, cinnamon rolls and orange juice. Mary had planned on giving her daughter breakfast in bed but, Jean wouldn’t answer the door. Mary figured Jean needed some space to think, and waited at the kitchen table for her to come out. At noon, Jean still hadn’t come out of her room, and Mary was beginning to worry. She knocked again, still no answer. This time she jiggled the doorknob but, it was locked. Every thirty minutes and she knocked but, Jean never answered. Finally, Mary ran to the garage to grab a hammer, ready to knock the door down. She pounded the hammer deep into door and it fell over in three hits. She pushed the remaining door pieces into the hallway, and walked into Jean’s room. On the floor laid Jean in a pool of blood. A knife was clutched in her hand.
Mary crumbled to the floor; she hugged her daughter not caring about the blood covering her body. Tears were escaping from her eyes. She screamed Jean’s name but, she knew no one would hear her. Jean’s death was so unexpected. Mary was having a hard time accepting it. But, she knew in a few hours, she would have call the police to take the body away but, until then she would cry.





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