Sunflower Skins

January 18, 2011

Assignment 4: Spontaneous Combustion

Filed under: prose — Tags: — Sunflower Skins @ 12:31 pm

Like my experiments this past summer, the latest assignment from my writing group required the following: title, first line, last line. Two hours to write. No changes.

Five Minutes Before the Miracle



Saturday afternoon she drove to the bakery in the shopping centre. Forward. Drive. He was napping. Perfect opportunity. Now, at least, or she would never again have the nerve.

Dreaming. Sleep. Pleasantries.

Saturday afternoon she drove to the bakery in the shopping centre and selected the most delectable dessert for her most disagreeable husband. Strawberry shortcake. A perfectly round, perfectly tiny cake, a perfect opportunity to inject a surprise from within. Your gut.

Dreaming. Sleep. Gorging pleasantries.

Saturday afternoon—the last day of their marriage, only she knew for certain that this had to be the end—she drove to the bakery in the shopping centre and dodged all the other housewives. She, the only one desperate enough for a cure. They barely noticed her against the grain.

Her dreams. Sleep. Maybe she could finally rest.

Forward, face forward, face the wheel. She sat in her car, the bakery box in her lap. Thin off-white cardboard. A caricature etched on the lid. A mockery of her life.

A single tear falls.

Dreams. Come back.

She sat in her car, retracing the motions. Imagining. Dreaming. Of how sweet life could be.

She removed the syringe from her purse, uncapped it, and injected the serum into the soft sponge. A few crumbs fell onto her slacks. Truth serum. Reveal your secrets.

It would be a miracle if she could pull this off. And even if she didn’t in the end, it would still be a change. Rethink all your concepts. Rethink. Everything.

Saturday afternoon is the least likely day for a ghastly crime. Pleasantries.

She rubbed her sore neck and looked in the rear-view mirror. Hollow eyes return. Bring back life. Bring me back my own life.

The shortcake looked exactly the same. So did she. No bruises shew; no love grew. But there was a change. She drove home.

Saturday afternoon she drove home to poison her husband.

Dreaming. Sleep. Lazyboy.

You are so fucking lazy.

She parked in the garage and sat there, weighing her options. The life ahead seemed so heavy. She did not want to be dragged around anymore. She left the car and entered the house.

Dreaming. Sleep. Would you trade one nightmare for another?

She waited patiently until he awoke. Didn’t want to ruin the dream. Would he realize? He returned her gaze, but his, too—hollow.

“Today I drove to the shopping centre and bought you a dessert.”

Suspicious? Not a chance.

Forward. Drive. Five more minutes and it will all be over.

“I thought you could use a treat.”

“Well, ain’t you sweet.”

I know.

“There is something inside,” she said.

“Yeah, I think you got us these once,” he said, blubbering. He cannot remember. We had these at our wedding. Expectations?

Why can’t you remember something sweet and good?

“There’s cream’r something, right?”

“Yes,” she said, watching him lick icing off a finger. Inside. Nevermore. “There is something else inside.”

“O yeah?” He paused, mouth open, cake dangling over gaping jaws. Teeth. Wound. “What’s that?”

“A little extra something I injected.” Truth serum.

He returned her gaze, but his, too—hollow. “And what’s that?” Ask and I shall tell thee.


“I don’t believe you,” he said, swallowing the entire cake in one greedy mouthful, “I think you’re just trying to make up for last night.” Nasty fuck. “But I’ll get you, y’know. I’ll get you.” A slight sting in the aftertaste, a bitter undertone. She really wanted to reassure him, to convince him that there was a centre he’d never considered. The unseen heart.

“It’s really something,” she said, so passionately.

“It’s… really… something…” he said.


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