“It’s him,” she exclaimed a loud, feeling her heart beginning to flutter as she listened to the familiar turn of his key at the front door. Her husband was finally home, and she was terribly excited to see him. He’d been gone for two days, and while he’d been away, she’d been keeping herself busy with making plans for the coming week, cooking and cleaning; she’d even gotten in a little reading. She’d been making a special dinner all day and she was anxious to serve it. She was really hoping he’d like it because she was trying to tell him how she felt about him through the wonder of food. His favorite food. She was also hoping to talk to him as she was starving for good conversation and she had the perfect topic right at the touch of her fingertips, practically ready to spill right out of her.

Her husband opened the door and greeted her as he always did, with a kiss on the cheek, setting down his briefcase by the door.

“Do I smell manicotti?” he asked, taking in a deep whiff of his favorite dish. “What’s the special occasion?” he asked, walking over to the stove where the dish was cooling.

“Oh, nothing special at all,” she answered. “I just saw that I had the ingredients in the cupboard, so I thought I’d surprise you. We’ve also got salad and the garlic toast that you like is just about done.” She grabbed a potholder and opened the oven door. The toast was nicely browned, so she turned off the oven and sat it down next to the manicotti on the top of the stove. “Sit down and I’ll bring it over,” she said.

He washed his hands and then sat down in his usual dining chair anxious to dig in. He hadn’t eaten anything during his busy day, and he could feel his stomach rumbling. His wife fluttered around him, quietly sliding his plate of salad and the basket of the toast in front of him. As he began to eat, his wife began to chatter about her day.

“Oh, and another thing that I did today was read this fascinating article,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about it all day — can’t get it out of my head.”

“Oh,” her husband commented. “Sounds intriguing.”

“I thought so,” she said, “it’s about women and men — women mainly — who when they find out that their husbands, wives, partners — whatever — have been cheating on them, that they take out their revenge on the one that the partner cheated with. Does that make sense?” she asked. “You find out your spouse has been cheating on you and instead of getting mad at the spouse, you totally blame the one they were cheating with and take out your revenge on that person.” She stopped and sat down opposite her husband to begin to eat her own salad. “I mean,” she said between bites. “Does that make any sense to you because it doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”

Her husband thought about it for a moment in between his own bites of bread and salad and said, “Revenge? What do they mean by revenge?”

“The article says they will do things to that person like stalk them, write things on their houses, make threatening phone calls, sometimes they will break into where they live and destroy things — steal things, etc., you know things like that. At least, that’s what most of them do. The article even said that some of them will hurt the other person and sometimes even kill the other person, if you can believe that” she said, her voice almost dropping to a whisper. She noticed that her husband had finished his salad and was ready for the main course. She walked over and took his salad plate, walked over to the stove top, and plated the manicotti. When she put the plate down in front of him at the table she asked, “Wouldn’t you hold the one who cheated responsible for the cheating?” She continued, “I mean, the person whom your partner was cheating with may not even know that person was married, or that he/she was in a relationship with someone else.”

Her husband looked at his warm plate of manicotti and said, “This looks really good.” He took a bit and said, “Yes, it’s definitely in your top five.”

She smiled back at him and went to make a plate for herself. “Well, what do you think of the article?” she asked him. “I’d be interested in your opinion because I was just floored by it.”

Her husband took a sip of the iced tea that had been sitting in front of him since he sat down, made a face and said, “The tea is bitter. You must have forgotten to put the sugar in it again.”

“Oh, I am sorry,” she said, going over to him and picking up the glass. I guess I did forget again. Just too much on my mind today I guess.” She walked over to the cabinet, pulled several sugar packets out of the cabinet, and stirred it into his glass. She walked back over to the table and put the glass back in front of him.

“What has been on your mind today?” He asked, taking another sip of the tea, and nodding to his wife indicated that it was much better now.

“Why, that article that I’ve been talking about of course,” she said. “Haven’t you been listening? I cannot believe anybody would ever think like that. It’s insane. You punish the one who made the promise to you and then broke it. That’s who you punish. Punishing anyone else just doesn’t make any sense.”

Her husband stopped eating long enough to look at his wife. “You’re certainly taking that article to heart, aren’t you?” he said. “I don’t know,” he said slowly. “Maybe the thinking behind it is getting rid of the temptation. You get rid of the temptation and then the spouse will stop cheating. Maybe they want to stay married, or whatever — they like it the way things are — and think that once the threat is gone then everything will go back to normal.”

“Well, that’s just crazy,” she said. “I could never trust that person again and I’d have to leave. I’d have to.”

“So, are you saying,” he questioned, “that you would leave me if you found out that I was cheating?”

She put down the bite of food that she had on her fork ready to put into her mouth, looked over at him and said, “You mean divorce?”

“Of course,” he answered, “What else? Would you divorce me?”

She looked a little surprised that he’d come right out and ask that question, but since he did, she felt like she had to answer.

“Yes. Yes, I think I would,” she said.

“Then divorce would open up a completely different set of problems,” he replied.

“Problems?” she asked. “You mean splitting the assets — money.”

“That’s what divorce is,” he answered. “You split up, you divide the money, the assets, and everything else and you go your separate ways.”

She thought about what he said for a moment and continued eating. “I’ve seen enough murder mysteries on television to know that some of them would rather kill the spouse than divorce the spouse. That way you get to keep all the money and assets for yourself.” She paused for a moment and said, “but you’ve got to be willing to get your hands dirty.”

“Well, Yes,” he said, agreeing with her. “And I think it would be really hard to pull off these days — murdering your spouse I mean,” he told her. “DNA evidence has really made it a lot harder to kill someone and get away with it. “He looked over at the top of the stove. “Is there any more bread?” he asked.

She nodded at him. “Of course.” She took the empty basket from him and walked back into the kitchen. She filled the basket with the last two pieces of bread, wiped her hands on the dish cloth sitting next to the oven, and walked the basket back to her husband.

“You’d have to be quite clever to get away with it these days I would think,” she told him while sitting back down at the table. “It would take a lot of planning to get it right,” she said. “You make one mistake and it’s over.”

Her husband looked over at her and laughed. “Should I be worried?” he asked with a little chuckle in his voice.

She laughed at that and said, “You know me. I can’t even kill a spider if it’s crawling across my own kitchen floor.” She paused for a moment and said, “but if I was going to kill someone, I think the only way to get could get away with it is by poison.”

“Poison?” her husband asked. “What do you know about poisoning someone?”

She laughed again and said, “Well, I don’t, of course — I just know there are drugs out there that act as a poison if given in large enough doses. Unless the coroner knows to look for something, sometimes those drugs go unnoticed. It happens,” she told him matter-of-factly. “And I know there are slow-acting drugs that if given in small enough doses over a long enough period of time, then they are practically impossible to detect. You know, like putting it in someone’s coffee every morning. Something like that.”

“How do you know about those types of drugs?” he asked. “Television?”

“Well, yes,” she answered. “And books, magazines, and the like.” And you also hear about things like this one the news from time-to-time.

“I remember watching something once that had the wife killing her husband who happened to have a heart condition. She gaslighted him into believing that he hadn’t taken his heart medication and he took three or four times the normal dose that day and died.”

“Like you and your blood pressure medicine?” She laughed and looked over at her husband’s shocked face. “You should see the look you’re giving me right now.” She laughed again. “You’d think that you’d know if your spouse wanted to kill you or not. I would think there would be signs somewhere along the road that they wanted you dead.”

“You’d think,” he said, wiping his mouth with his napkin. “But then again, I don’t spend any time thinking about things like that I suppose, but I do think that was a delicious dinner. Thank you.”

She seemed pleased. “You’re welcome,” she said. “It was nice to sit down to a good meal and have a good conversation at the end of the day. Thank you for sharing that magazine with me, by the way. I really enjoyed the articles — it gave me the idea for tonight.”

He stood up from the table and looked at her strangely. “What magazine?” Then he remembered and nodded his head toward her. “Oh, you mean the magazine that I brought from work the other day?”

“Yes,” she said. “You said someone that you work with brought it in to share?”

“That’s the one,” he said. “Speaking of sharing, someone else in the office made brownies today and I brought you one because I know you’ll eat anything chocolate.”

He walked over to his briefcase, opened it, and removed a small tinfoil wrapped package and handed it to her.

She opened the package and saw one chocolate brownie that had powdered sugar sprinkled on top. “Thank you,” she said. “It looks delicious.” But when she noticed there was only one brownie in the package, she asked, “Only one? Would you like to split it with me?”

“No,” he answered. “I couldn’t eat a thing. I just happened to see it on my desk at work.”

“Well, that was sweet of you to think of me,” she said, taking the brownie between her fingers. and before taking a bite, “You were at the office today?” she asked. “I thought you were coming home right from the airport.”

“No,” he said. “There was something that I needed to do at the office.”

For a split second, a look of doubt spread across her face, then almost immediately disappeared. “Oh, okay,” she said. She put the brownie up to her mouth and took a bite. She chewed and swallowed and then seemed almost relieved that it tasted perfectly normal — not like the tea that she’d served her husband at dinner. Not at all like the tea she’d served her husband. She turned away from him and laughed silently to herself remembering her words from dinner. “You would think that you’d know if your spouse wanted you dead.” She laughed again to herself.

“You would think,” she said aloud this time.

“What did you say?” her husband asked as he was walking away from her.

“Oh, nothing,” she answered quietly. “Nothing at all.”

Robin is a writer/photographer who lives in Montana and happily gets to travel the state to photograph the beauty and document the stories.

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