S is for Suicide

Originally published April 22, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge

“Do you have any idea why your boyfriend would want to kill himself?”

It was the third time the detective had asked her that question and Jessica still didn’t hear him. They sat at the cold metal table at the center of the gray interrogation room. A second detective stood by the one-way window.

Jessica wrapped her arms around herself. When she had finally gotten over the shock of seeing Whitmore dead on her floor, a bullet hole in his head, she’d only had enough time to put on a pair of shorts and a tank top before emergency personnel arrived. The police tried to interview her at the scene, but she was too distracted by the men snapping photos and taking samples. Then Bruce behaved so inappropriately. He kept touching her shoulder, squeezing it, telling her everything was going to be OK. Every time he opened his mouth, a film of mucus crept up her throat, tickled the back of her tongue. Stop it! She wanted to shout. Stop acting like the concerned boyfriend. He’s dead. We did this! You. Me.

Jessica wasn’t wearing panties. She didn’t have on a bra. The draft in the room caused her skin to prickle up into goose bumps. Her nipples hardened underneath her shirt, and she felt as if they were pointing out toward the two officers like daggers. I’m not attracted to you, she tried to explain away. I wasn’t fucking when it happened. I didn’t kill him.

She wished they would quit stalling and arrest her for murder. She knew they suspected foul play the second they stepped over Whitmore’s body. She could see it playing out in their scheming minds. She was having a steamy affair with Bruce. Whitmore caught wind of it. She couldn’t keep it a secret any longer; they had to get rid of him. She was the brain, Bruce the brawn. He pulled the trigger. They staged his suicide. Then she assumed the role of the grieving girlfriend.

“Ms. Ryan.” The first detective snapped his finger in front of her face.

“She may still be in shock, Dan. That was a pretty horrific scene,” the detective by the window said.

The good cop, bad cop routine. She was under arrest.

“I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question?”

Dan sighed, shaking his blond hair over his eyes. “Why would Whitmore kill himself? Did he suffer from mental illness?”

Jessica put her fist to her mouth and coughed, but the cough was weak, originating from the front of her mouth instead of deep in her chest. Her tongue convulsed at the back of her throat, and she lightly coughed again, sounding like a child trying to fake sick to get out of going to school. Her lips curled into a smile, and to conceal the imminent laugh, she attempted a truly fake cough, and laughed instead at how pathetic she sounded. Both detectives stared at her quizzically.

“Is something funny?” Dan asked.

“No, no. It’s just—” She crossed her legs, wiped the corners of her lips as if her laugh were crumbs leftover from a dinner long forgotten. “I thought he would kill me,” she finally said.

“Has he ever threatened you?”

“No . . . It was Roger Peacock.”

“The guy in Houston?” the officer by the window asked.

Jessica shook her head. The more she spoke, the more ridiculous she sounded—the more suspicious. “I don’t know why I thought he would kill me. He’s always threatened suicide, though subtly. He would say things like if I ever left him, he would go back to that dark place he was in after his last girlfriend.”

“Layla?” Dan interrupted.

Jessica blinked.

“His final text to you said, ‘Just like Layla.’ I’m assuming Layla is the last girlfriend.”

Jessica nodded. “He admitted that he tried to kill himself then. But it didn’t work. I guess, I just assumed that if he ever had his heart broken again, he would give up hurting himself and hurt the woman who hurt him. He’s never said that to me directly, though.”

“Why do you think you hurt him?” Dan asked.

“I didn’t love him the way he wanted me to.”

“Meaning you cheated,” the man by the window said.

“Excuse me?”

“The man you were with. I assume you two are involved.” He approached the table, pressed his palms down on the metal. He peered down at Jessica over the rim of his glasses.

“I . . . we . . .” She shivered underneath her thin clothing. She could feel her pointy, perky breasts trying to pierce through the cotton fabric of her t-shirt. She wanted to cover herself, but she feared any further gestures to hide her suspicious mannerisms would make her look guiltier.

“Look,” Dan said, “we’re not gonna judge you for what you might have been doing with the radio DJ.”

“I thought his name sounded familiar! My brother-in-law listens to him all the time. Saved his marriage.”

“Jake,” Dan snapped. Jessica could only assume that he was the older and more experienced of the two. He turned back to Jessica. “I don’t care if you were screwing him, sucking him, or watching a movie. All I care about is the dead man on your doorstep and how he got there.”

“We just want to get to the bottom of this. That’s all,” Jake said, recovering the serious tone in his voice.

“The bottom line is he killed himself, and he did it in front of my door to make me suffer for it.” Jessica shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t blame him.”

—Nortina

R is for Ring

Originally published April 21, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge.

“What was that?” Bruce swatted at his ear.

“What was what?” Jessica pressed her lips against his forehead, shingling his brown hair with her fingers.

“I don’t know. It sounded like a fly, or something.”

“Am I making you nervous?” Jessica kissed him on the lips. Then down to his chin. Then underneath his chin, and lower on his neck, near his throat.

“Not at all.” He reclined onto the pillows propped up on the headboard as Jessica moved further down. She kissed his collarbone, then his bare chest. She traced her tongue around the sharpened outlines of his abs. His abdomen convulsed as he chuckled under her light touch. She migrated down to his navel, biting the skin on the outer edges. When she reached the thin trail of pubic hair just below his navel, he suddenly shot up.

“There it is again. That buzzing.”

Jessica searched the bedroom, and her eyes immediately fell on her phone lying on the edge of her nightstand. Bruce picked up the vibrating phone and looked at the picture displayed on the screen. “Is this him?”

Jessica nodded.

“He looks kind of weird. I mean, he has his hands in his pockets. He’s leaning to the left but his head is cocked to the right. He’s smiling, but it’s like he’s trying to show all of his teeth at the same time. Almost like he’s sneering at you.” Bruce leaned his head to the right and bared his teeth to demonstrate.

Jessica snatched the phone from him. “You look like a washed-up rapper.” She tossed it across the floor, and it landed where the door was cracked open.

Jessica climbed onto Bruce’s lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I don’t want to think about him. He’s history.” She sighed loudly, her breath ruffling through his hair. “You have experience with stealing girlfriends.” She arched her back. “Steal me.”

Bruce quickly flipped her over and positioned himself on top. “Alright,” he whispered. He sucked on her neck, and she wrapped her legs around his waist as he thrust his hips into her.

Jessica felt as if she would melt, her body like jelly underneath her skin. Two years of built up resentment, dissatisfaction, force appeasement to a tormented love gushed from her pores and onto the sheets in an ocean of sweat. Bruce kissed the tops of her breasts, and she remembered what she had always desired in a relationship. Someone to kiss her, comfort her when she was down, whether that was by lending a shoulder for her to cry on, or through unbridled sex. He intertwined his fingers with hers and pressed her hands on either side of her into the mattress, and she remembered she just wanted to be with someone who made her feel comfortable being herself, whether that meant watching her favorite black and white Alfred Hitchcock movies with her, going bowling just to order the chili cheese fries from the concession stand and using the bumpers to cheat, or dancing under arches of water shot from rusted fountains in the city park with giggling, half-naked two-year olds. He pressed deeper into her, quicker in pace, and she remembered how much she loved to fight. Why have sex in the morning when they could wrestle? Pin each other to the ground; winner got to take a shower first, loser cooked breakfast.

She never had any of that with Whitmore. Whitmore had a plan. He had seen too many movies, read too many blogs. He believed relationships were all about romance, love, working toward marriage. He never allowed them to grow into friends before he began planning a wedding and a family. He’d convinced her that pursuing a friendship wasted time. No one could wait that long. He was so eager to settle down, he never learned her middle name, or her favorite type of food, or what she enjoyed doing in her free time. He missed getting to know her.

She dug her nails into Bruce’s back and released a buoyant moan. She didn’t know what the future held for them, but she wanted him to help her rediscover her passion, the fire that burned within her whenever she became involved with a man who asked for nothing but her company.

Suddenly, there was a loud, piercing bang. It echoed off the walls, rang in Jessica’s ears, ricochet within her skull. Bruce pulled out of her and sprang from the bed so fast he nearly hurt her.

“That sounded like a gun shot. It sounded like it came from your living room?”

“No one else is here. My door makes a lot of noise. I would’ve heard if someone was inside.” Feeling vulnerable, Jessica crossed her arms over her exposed breasts, placing a hand on the opposite shoulder.

“Maybe it was outside your door?” Bruce said.

“There’ve been some break-ins. It could be my neighbor.”

“Stay here. I’ll check it out.”

“Be careful.”

Bruce stepped into his jeans and walked around the corner. Jessica scooted to the edge of the bed, wrapping the bed sheets around her shoulders. She heard Bruce open the door. She heard a heavy thump. Then she heard him gasp. Seconds later, he was standing in the doorway, his lips pressed together. He refused to make eye contact with her.

“You need to call the police.” His voice was short and weighted.

“Why? What is it? What happened?”

“Just—” He bent over and picked up her phone from the floor. “Call the police.”

Jessica was about to dial 9-1-1 when she saw a series of incoming texts from Whitmore.

I need to see you. Are you home?

I’m in the parking lot.

Why won’t you answer the phone?

I want to make us work. What do I have to do to make us work?

I want to marry you Jessica Ryan. That’s what I came to ask you.

So this is it? You’re done with me?

I don’t understand what I could’ve done.

Goodbye, Jessica. It’s obvious you don’t love me as much as I love you.

Just like Layla . . .

 Jessica slowly looked up at Bruce. “What did you see?”

“You shouldn’t go up there.”

Jessica dropped her phone and pushed past Bruce. She sprinted to the living room, and as if she had collided with an invisible brick wall that had suddenly risen from her floorboards, she collapsed to her knees. In front of her, face down, half his body inside across the threshold, lay Whitmore, blood spilling from his right temple. There was a smear of red on the front of her door, midway and on down to the bottom, from where his head hit and slid down as his body fell underneath him. Poking out from underneath his chest was the gun he used to end his life.

Jessica wanted to cry. She wanted to scream, but she couldn’t find her voice, and she realized that all fluids related to Whitmore, tears included, had been purged from her body while she had sex with Bruce. The only word she could muster out of her mouth was, “Oh.”

Behind her, Bruce spoke into the phone. “Yes, I need an ambulance. A man is dead.”

—Nortina

Depressed Deek

“Oh, I just wish I was dead!” a woman blurted.

I broke away from Grandma and followed the voice. Sitting on the plush, velvet cough against the wall left of Grandma, a stumpy old woman clad in a purple blouse and skirt matched so well with the fabric of the couch that if it had not been for her gray hair and pale white skin, I might not have seen her. She folded her arms over her chest, poked out her bottom lip—also painted purple—and said again, “I just wanna be dead!”

“Winifred, why would you wanna say a thing like that?” Grandma purred.

“Here we go again.” The woman with the eight-year-old hairstyle spun in her chair and turned her back to Winifred. “She says this all the time.”

“Such a damper,” said the older gentlemen sitting on the other side of Grandma beside the record player—the music gone silent again—in an armchair identical to hers. He lowered his head and with his middle finger, scratched the age spot on his bald crown. “You wanna die so much, why don’t you marry Millie? She seems to have mastered the skill of killing spouses.”

Grandma chuckled, but the tears still lingering in the corners of her eyes told me she didn’t appreciate his joke.

“Two broads marrying, humph.” The last of our group sat away from us, giving us only his profile. A newspaper lay open in his lap, and he flipped through the pages as he spoke. “Shit’s legal now, humph. And I thought we were done for when they let the races marry.”

“Then you’d love to hear about my husband Lindell.” Grandma stuck out her tongue. “Don’t mind him,” she said to me. “He used be in the KKK.”

“Marcos is his roommate,” Baldy added, then he yelled out, “Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it, Frank!”

“Stop all that cursing, Thomas,” Grandma swatted at his mouth, and he dodged the back of her hand.

“I was in the navy for thirty years! The sailor talk is bred in me.”

“Why won’t the Lord just take me now!” The wrinkles in the jowls hanging from Winifred’s jaw deepened as she shook her head.

“Oh, shut up, Winifred!” Thomas and Frank said in unison.

“You stop talking all that craziness, you hear?” Grandma added.

“I don’t have nobody,” Winifred continued. “You got all these husbands, I never even had one. Your granddaughter comes to visit you every week, I ain’t seen my niece since she put me in here. I just wanna die!”

Grandma slowly stood to her feet, her knees making a soft popping sound as she straightened up. She went over and sat next to Winifred on the couch. “Life’s too precious to want to end it before it’s time.” She put her arm around Winifred’s shoulders. “You know, I had a husband who killed himself.”

“Really?” I asked. Grandma nodded, though her attention was focus on Winifred, as if the rest of us weren’t even there. It was just the two of them in conversation now. This story was reserved only for Winifred.

D“Deek was a sweet man. I wasn’t smitten by him or anything, but I was happy. He was a great friend.” She looked up at the ceiling and wiped her eyes. “I remember that really bad blizzard of ’58. We sat by the fireplace talking for hours about everything we ever wanted to do in life, until we got soot on our faces.”

“Why did he kill himself?” Winifred asked.

Grandma inhaled deeply, raising her shoulders. When she exhaled, her entire body shrank, and she all but disappeared behind Winifred into the purple couch. “His mother was an awful woman. She gave him a hard time. I don’t think she liked me much. Eighteen-years-old and already widowed three times. I was getting a reputation around our little town. Most men thought I was some kind of witch. Deek was the only one who spoke to me after Carl died.

“I think he knew I wasn’t in love with him like I was with Andrew and Carl. I did love him, though. Maybe I just didn’t tell him enough.” She hung her head and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I should have been there.” Tear drops fell to her thighs, soaking the thin fabric of her dress. “I was at my parents’ house when he did it. Mama had asked me to go to the store and buy her some white beans for her three bean chili.” She titled back her head and whipped her hair off her face, blinking away tears. “When I got home later that afternoon, I found him hanging from the ceiling fan.”

“You poor girl,” Winifred said.

“Of course, his mother blamed me. Wouldn’t even let me go to his funeral. Me. His wife.”

“Funerals bring out the ugliness in people,” Thomas muttered. “Happened at my wife’s funeral.”

Grandma shook her head. “This woman was already ugly.”

“But you eventually moved on, right?” Winifred asked.

“I eventually remarried, yes,” Grandma said, “but it still haunts me all these years later. I just wish I knew what I could’ve done to prevent it.” One of Winifred’s gray curls stuck out behind her ear, and Grandma twirled it around her finger and tucked it down. “Take it from someone who’s been married twenty-six times and watched each of her husbands die. Death is never easy. Sometimes I’m just as lonely as you feel. But look around you.” She spread her arms, welcoming the rest of us in. “You have family here, and I’ll lend you my granddaughter every once in a while,” she said and winked.

“How bout lending her a husband,” Thomas joked. We all laughed, even Winifred and grumpy, old Frank, and the heaviness of the air finally lifted.

 —Nortina


The A to Z Challenge is in full throttle! Have you joined yet? Come back to read more from 26 Husbands–26 Unusual Deaths. And be sure to check out more “D” posts from other A to Z bloggers.

Literary Lion: Peak

The edge of the blade
felt like ice on his skin.
It cooled the hot blood
pouring from his wrist,
spilling into the bath water,
turning it crimson.

—Nortina


The feline has growled, and this fortnight’s Literary Lion prompt is:

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Attempted #frapalymo

Night is like a silent sea
reflected in the sky.
I raise my arms above my head,
into the ocean I dive.
Stars adorn the barren floor. 
The moon illuminates the waves
that push me back onto the shore,
expels me from my grave.

—Nortina


frapalymoThis poem is written as part of #frapalymo which Bee will be translating into English for us at The Bee Writes…  Today’s prompt is on the classical side. It is the first line, “night is like a silent sea,” from the poem, “The Night-Flower,” by Joseph von Eichendorff. As the original German poem looks to have a rhyme scheme, I decided to embrace the classical theme altogether and give my poem a rhyme scheme as well.

Aftermath

“What did you see?” the police officer asked, scribbling into his notepad.

“I used to joke about suicide. I would say, ‘If there’s no convincing you out of it, go ahead and kill yourself. Just don’t take the rest of us with you.’ I recognize how insensitive I was being, now.” I turned my head away as the paramedics wheeled the body on the stretcher passed me.

“So you didn’t see anyone push her?”

“I wish someone had. A girl that young. What would drive her to jump in front of a speeding train like that?”

“Your guess is as good as mine ma’am.”

“I can only hope she found peace.”

“Some witnesses say they saw her sleeping on the bench. When she jumped, her eyes were still closed.”

“A death as violent as being run over by a train. I pray she was still asleep. I pray she was having dreams of paradise and didn’t feel a thing.”

word count: 159

—Nortina


This week’s photo was too much of a coincidence for me not to give you guys a part two to last week’s installment. I hope you enjoyed!

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 100-150 words (give or take 25 words) using the provided photo prompt as inspiration.

Click on the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own!

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No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 25

She had reached
her breaking point.

Her blood boiling,
anticipating her to end it.

Then the temperature cooled.

The wind blew her
hair across her face,

wrapped her shawl
around her shoulders.

White flakes of frozen
dust fell from the sky.

Standing center
of the intersection,

her arms outstretched,
she lifted her head,

stuck out her tongue.
She didn’t see the car

skidding on the frozen road.

—Nortina

Copyright by Jason Benjamin
Copyright by Jason Benjamin