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In Sickness and in Health

In Sickness and in Health

A woman snaps and kills her abusive husband...or so she thinks.

I never meant to kill him. There was one moment, just a single moment when I genuinely wanted him dead but that isn’t a crime is it? I mean on TV people get whacked over the head all the time. It never seems to do them much harm. They simply pass out for a bit and then they wake up and the show goes on as before.

If I tell you what a bastard he was would that make it more understandable? It started with an argument as most of our evenings did. I was at home when he came in and the first thing he did was complain. It went on and on and I’d worked so hard to try and get the house tidy and he hadn’t even noticed. I was in the kitchen, trying to cut the vegetables for dinner when he careered down the hall, already half cut, slurring his words as he staggered towards me.

“Why aren’t you hot anymore,” he said, a strange grin playing across his face. I put the knife down and picked up the rolling pin next to it, flattening out the pastry and trying to ignore him.

“We’ve got a new secretary at work and she’s so much hotter than you and do you know what? I reckon she’d fuck me if I asked her.”

I gripped the rolling pin tighter, fighting to avoid showing him he’d got to me.

“Maybe if you weren’t such a dried up old witch, I’d fuck you instead.” He drained his drink and continued to lean over my shoulder, the smell of the alcohol on his breath. “Looks shit,” he said, staring at the spread on the table. My brain just snapped. That’s all I can say. Years of him being like this and I’d put up with it but something inside me had had enough. So with the rolling pin in my hand I swung round to face him, picking up speed as I turned.

The rolling pin hit the side of his head with a wet thud. I remember the pastry more than anything. Strange what sticks in your mind isn’t it? The bits of pastry that stuck in his hair made me giggle madly as he fell backwards. I looked at the rolling pin, stained dark with blood and the few strands of his hair that had stuck to it.

He crumpled downwards, legs losing strength and then he slumped to the floor, lying still as blood oozed from his scalp, staining the linoleum underneath him. Panic began to take over as I realised what I’d done. I didn’t call for help. Judge me for that if you want to but as I watched him, I began to smile.

If you’ve never been with someone like him, you’ll never be able to understand but the sense of freedom I felt was overwhelming while it lasted. It was soon replaced by fear, not over what I’d done but over the risk of getting caught. I began to pace up and down, muttering to myself as I tried to think how best to handle the situation from here on in.

Then I thought about Barry. He could help. He would help. He loved me. I left the body where it was and quickly washed my hands in the sink, leaving the rolling pin soaking in the dishwater as I collected my coat and headed out of the front door, not looking back. I tried to walk slowly and calmly down the street, even waving to Mrs Kennedy when she saw me.

I knocked on Barry’s door and waited for him to answer, the façade of calm leaking away as I pictured being tossed into a prison cell.

“Jesus Andrea, what’s the matter?” he asked when he appeared. “You look white as a sheet.”

“Can I come in?” I asked. “I need to talk to you.”

I told him what had happened and watched his expression change. At first he seemed horrified but as I explained and we talked, he began to calm down, that thoughtful expression taking over, the one that meant he was about to come up with an idea, like when we managed our first secret holiday together.

“Go back home,” he said at last.


“Listen. Go back home and discover the body. Scream, shout for help. Call the police. Everything.”


“There’s no way we could get away with it otherwise. He can’t just vanish off the face of the earth. But a mystery attacker. That might just do it.”

So I kissed him goodbye and walked home again, even stopping off at the newsagent to get 20 cigarettes for him. I arrived at the house and unlocked the door, calling out as I did so. “Honey, I’m home.”

Not surprisingly there was no answer. I walked into the kitchen, humming to myself. “I bought you your favourites,” I called out as I leaned round the counter. I blinked in shock at the sight before me. No body, just the stained lino in an otherwise empty kitchen.

I dug my phone out of my pocket and frantically rang Barry. “Have you done it yet?” he asked.

“No, listen, come over quick. I need you.”

“What? What is it?”

“The body. It’s gone.”


“He’s not here. I don’t know where he is.”

“Oh Jesus. Are you sure he was dead when you left him?”

“Well there was blood and he wasn’t moving.”

“You mean you didn’t check his pulse? Listen, get out of the house now. Wait for me in the street. I’m on my way.”

The line went dead just as I heard a noise upstairs. I craned my neck, listening to see if it happened again. Nothing. I ran for the front door just as the bell went. I could see fluorescent yellow jackets through the frosted glass as I pulled open the door.

“Mrs. Andrea Swimmer?”

I looked at the two police officers standing before me and felt my heart began to pound in my chest. What were they doing here?

“Yes. Is there a problem officers?”

“We’ve had a call to a disturbance at this address, raised voices. Can we come in for a moment?”

“May,” I said before I could stop myself.

“Excuse me?”

“May we come in, not ‘can we come in?’”

“Oh I see. May we come in Mrs Swimmer?” He pushed past me before I could reply. Luckily they headed for the living room, sitting down on the sofa and motioning for me to sit opposite in the armchair.

“Is your husband around at all?” one of them asked, pulling out a notepad and pencil.

“He’s popped out.” I tried to keep my voice as calm as possible, not sure if I was succeeding.

“I see. Where to?”

“I…I’m not sure. He just said he was going for a walk.”

The other one leaned forward and gave me a piercing glance. “Has your husband ever hit you Mrs. Swimmer?”

“What? No, of course not. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like you to leave.”

As the three of us stepped into the hall, the front door burst open and Barry ran in, skidding to a halt when he saw the two of them.

“Mr. Swimmer?” one of the officers asked.

To his credit, Barry barely paused for a second before smiling and nodding. “Yes, that’s me but call me David. What seems to be the trouble officers?”

“We had calls to a disturbance here. Someone heard raised voices.”

“That was me, I’m afraid. Had the TV on too loud earlier. Won’t do it again I promise.”

“Oh I see. Well, if you’re both sure?” They turned to look at me, as if to give me one last chance to contradict him. I just nodded and smiled so off they went. Barry waved bye and then turned to me, the smile vanishing from his face as he marched through to the kitchen, me following him like a lost puppy.

“Who the hell called the police?” he asked as he looked at me.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “but I heard something upstairs. I think we should check.”

“I’ll go look,” he replied. “You wait here. And Andrea?”


“I love you.”

He kissed me on the lips and then headed down the hall, climbing the stairs two at a time. I listened to the creak of the floorboards above my head as he walked into our bedroom. There was a moment’s silence and then a huge thud directly above me.

“Barry?” I called up. “What’s happened?”

There was no answer. With my breath caught in my throat I tried again. “Barry?”

Still nothing. With a deep sense of dread I made my way to the bottom of the stairs and looked up. “Barry?”

Silence. Slowly I began to climb the stairs, terror filling me as I reached the landing and saw our bedroom door was closed. My feet moved of their own accord and my hand shook uncontrollably as I pushed it open and went inside. I saw Barry first, sprawled facedown across the bed, not moving. I saw the blood next. A pool of it in the middle of the room, as if someone had stood there bleeding into the carpet. I opened my mouth to cry out but nothing happened.

Then I saw my husband. That was when I was finally able to scream.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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