Monday, January 11, 2010

Entry #116

The Moth Incident
by Beth A. Ostrander


When people saw them together, they always uttered the same things, “She's so lucky to have him. She doesn't even have to work.” She knew people said these things, saw her social phobias as a way to be standoffish, an excuse, but she didn't care.

At home, she hurried to serve him, iron his shirts, make the house immaculate for his arrival, and cook meals only he would enjoy and if he didn't, she would cry silently while doing the dishes. Crisp linens, a clean bed, even fluffed pillows.

Yet, daily she kept a small secret. When she dusted, a dead moth sat on the windowsill in the kitchen and almost subconsciously, she left it there. A year passed and one day while he corrected her for not contributing to the household enough, he mentioned the moth. In this shiny, clean, well-run house, the moth was what he had noticed most.

All the pressure, the fake smiles; the part of her brain that kept her in check snapped. As he turned to go into his television room with a bottle of his expensive beer, she held the heavy cast iron skillet in her hand and knew on contact she had killed him. Pure adrenalin helped her move his body to the backyard by the line of the forest. When the first bird landed and began pecking at his bloody head, she said quietly, “Take it all...until there's nothing left.”

28 comments:

Bernita said...

Vivid and brutal.

wrath999 said...

Enjoyed this tale. She snapping in the end makes it scary

Tessa said...

Compulsively readable. The dead moth as a metaphor, perhaps? Definitely a winner - very well done!

Aniket said...

That's one meal she'd have loved to cook for the birds. ;)

I love dark and gory. I love this.

onipar... said...

HA, love it! The dead moth part reminds me a bit of Raymond Carver's writing, and the ending of Roald Dahl, specifically "Lamb to the Slaughter." Meant as high praise of course. :-) Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Lena said...

I don't like dark prose usually, but still enjoyed reading yours. Very vivid.

Meghan said...

Chilling!

Tara said...

I felt her frustration throughout. Nice work.

SzélsőFa said...

it is strange, but quite human, that a meticulous woman just plain leaves the former abuser, the man of the house, to the will of the birds. I find it very realistic. great job, Beth.

I would like to ask whether the moth (the type of the animal) was chosen on purpose (as an acronym) or was it just a subconscious decision, or something else? if no answer is available, I accept that decision, too :)
peace.

Four Dinners said...

I think I was helping her hit him in my head!

Top class work!

pjd said...

Should I be worried that my wife recently insisted on cooking in a cast-iron skillet? If I see a moth on the windowsill...

Her last words are ideal. Poetic justice.

austere said...

Just perfect.
Bravo!

laughingwolf said...

bang on, beth... love it!

Laurel said...

Awp. This reminds me, too, of a short story I read in high school the name of which escapes me. The wife offs him with a lamb shank and then feeds the lamb to the police.

The moth was a great detail. The symbol of rebellion brewing for a year. It's always the quiet ones you gotta watch out for!

Deb Smythe said...

Another man bites the dust. Sorry, couldn't help the pun.

Loved the moth!

Kartik said...

Laurel, I was thinking of the exact same story while reading this! Hailing frequencies open!!!

illyriataylor said...

FINALLY a piece on domestic abuse. You painted this picture to perfection.

Chris Eldin said...

Gripping and very well written. I'm glad you entered this one Beth! Haven't seen you for ages!

catvibe said...

Geeze, you're writing about my ex-husband here. The moth is a diabolical detail, just brilliant. I wonder if she'd be better off divorcing him and taking him for all of his money. But then it wouldn't be quite the fun story of revenge you've got here. Nice excellent writing.

Craig said...

The woman's sheer insanity is what really came across for me in this one. She is meticulous yet leaves the moth out so the husband to say something so she has an excuse to kill him. So who is really the victim here? I'd say the husband. Good job.

Laurel said...

Kartik: grin

Kurt Hendricks said...

Great job of character development in such a small story.

McKoala said...

I like the intensity of the emotion n this one.


Laurel, that's a Roald Dahl story!

JaneyV said...

Beth you did an awesome job depicting the prison of living with a control freak. I love the fact that she left the moth there - hidden - a tiny act of rebellion to relieve the constant pressure to please and serve.

He forced her to remove it and she blew a gasket. All control freaks should learn some physics - their life expectancy might just shoot up!

Beth said...

Thank you for all the comments. I always find that to be the best part of these contests.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ouch! Bad boy for never saying Thank You. :-)

Well done.

Terri said...

I think I shall send the link for this story to my hubby for him to read... ;-)
Am I terrible for hoping she gets away with it? (But oh Puh-lease let her get some help!!!)

Aerin said...

Craig - I agree she's insane, but I would hardly think that makes the husband the pitiable party.


my caveat

Something I Would Keep

The social phobias reference almost seems throw-a-way, but it's crucial to understanding the rest of the piece; I like the subtlety

Something I Might Tweak

The one line she says - so important, since it's the time we discover her voice - seems a little careless for such detailed insanity