(WP) Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

(WP) Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

The house felt too empty without her inside of it. She and her daughter hadn’t lived together in years, but she’d come over for a visit just last week. She’d been acting odd; so much so that her mother was worried; that was her job. She was the parent. She’d be dead before she stopped worrying about her child.

She could still feel Ellie’s ghost lingering all around her, and the hole in her chest seemed to widen; she fell to her knees, using the coffee table to catch herself before she face planted. What was she supposed to do now? She’d done everything in her power to help her daughter get out of her husband Ted’s clutches, including moving her halfway across the country; anything to keep her safe.

And she’d failed. That bitter pill was so hard to swallow that she was considering ending it as well. What did she have to live for anymore? Her Eleanor, her little Ellie elephant, was gone, the flame of her life snuffed out before her time, all because that piece of human garbage had lost control of her, and had vowed that if he couldn’t have her, none would, not even the woman who had brought her into this world.

The unfairness of it all made her dizzy. There was one thought in her head that was loudly drowning out the others: It should’ve  been her, instead. A parent should’ve never had to bury their child; it felt like the universe itself had failed her. Ellie had been what was called ‘a miracle baby’. She had been conceived right before her father passed away from a car accident, and when Jane had discovered she was pregnant, she’d been happy, hopeful; she’d had a small piece of her late husband, growing inside of her those nine months.

She touched her cheeks and found them wet, her eyes leaking rivers of crystalline tears.

 This was all too much. Hadn’t she been dealt enough loss in her life?

She wiped at her cheeks and stood, her legs shaking; it seemed to take every bit of energy she had just to get up. But she couldn’t give up; it would be an insult to Ellie’s memory if she gave in to the darkness that had returned, once again, to haunt her.

Ted’s face appeared in her mind, and she heard a high-pitched, painful keen, a senseless wail of rage and grief.

Where was it coming from?

 Her throat hurt, and then she realized that it was her. It was coming from her.

She curled up on the couch, haunted by her daughter and the man that had ended her life.

**

When she awoke, she wasn’t sure just how much time had passed. She was curled up in a ball, and the sun was beginning to set. She had slept fitfully, dreaming of running to her daughter, but it was as if she were running through syrup; she just couldn’t reach her. And laughter, Ted’s deep, mocking laughter.

“Did you really think that she wouldn’t come back to me? I love her. She’s not yours anymore. She’s mine, and was mine from the moment she said yes to marrying me. Bye bye, Mommy dearest.”

The words echoed in her head, and she clenched her jaw, wishing she could block it all out. But then it came to her. Now she knew what she had to do, even if it ended her life.

**

She pulled up to the prison in a car she’d borrowed from a friend; it would not do for her vehicle to be recognized. It had taken several weeks to plan, but now she was ready. She wasn’t exactly a Christian woman, but didn’t The Bible say something about an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? She hadn’t paid much attention in the few church services she’d been made to attend as a  teenager.

She was dressed immaculately, in a long-sleeved pink shell, accented with a gold chain that wrapped around the waist, wide-legged trousers that were adorned with black and white stripes, and the highest pair of heels she had. If she was going away after today, she wanted to look her best. And she also wanted to haunt him; she knew she looked just like Ellie, only older. Bitterness rose up in her throat and she swallowed, hard. None of that mattered now, for she was about to make it right.

She walked up to the visitor’s desk, which was covered in bulletproof glass.

“Name, ma’am?” The female guard asked, her voice muffled.

“Jane Sparks.”

“Who are you here to see, Miss Sparks?”

“Ted Rawlins.”

“Hmm, he doesn’t have many visitors. Of course, I’ll have to see ID and search your things. Do you have a bag or anything with you?”

She slapped her ID on the desk and slid it through the window, smiling.

 "After you verify that, I can give you my bag.“

"You’re awfully cooperative, Miss Sparks. I appreciate that, ma’am.”

“Oh, the pleasure is all mine.”

**

Jane stood in front of Ted’s cell, where a guard unlocked the door, cuffing him as he escorted him to the table in the visiting room; Jane followed, saying nothing, though her heart pounded in her chest. She’d prepared for this, practiced for weeks. She wasn’t exactly afraid; sweat gathered on the nape of her neck, in her hairline, on her forehead. This was something different: anticipation. It burned and seared inside of her chest, a cold blue flame fanned by hatred and pain.

“It’s nice to see you, Ted,” Jane drawled, taking a close examination of her former son-in-law when he sat with a thud at the table. She noticed, with a secret burst of glee, that he had remained handcuffed. That was good; he would have no way of fighting her back.

“I wish I could say the same, Jane. You been thinking about me, since I killed your daughter? Oh well, it was her fault, after all. She tried to leave me. She was mine. And then, well.” He shrugged, a smirk slowly unfurling on his face, reminding Jane of a poisonous flower. “Then she was dead.”

It took all of Jane’s self-control not to lunge for him, not to strangle him with her own bare hands. But what she had in mind was much more painful, anyway. She just had to get through this conversation; she only had an hour, and she could hear the clock ticking behind her.

“Why did you do it, Ted? She was leaving you. She was beginning to get her life back in order. Why couldn’t you just move on?”

“I loved her.” Her voice was toneless, robotic. “And then you stole her away from me. Poisoned her against me. We were in love.”

“You were abusive.”

“I don’t think you know the difference. After all, Ellie told me–”

“Don’t you say her name.”

Before she was even finished with the sentence, he spoke over her. “Ellie told me that your husband died before she was born. How do you even know what love is?”

**

She didn’t remember much of it, only in flashes: pulling out the knife, leaning forward and slashing Ted’s throat from ear to ear, and blood, so much blood, splattering all over her clothing. The weak, sputtering gurgle that emerged from his mouth, blood bubbling on his lips, and the shock in his eyes.

But he should’ve known better. Every mama bear had claws.