flash fiction: marla

Mon Apr-21st-2014 // Filed under: Flash Fiction

Here’s something I ended up doing for Chuck Wendig’s recent flash fiction challenge. It’s a short piece, obviously; the trick is that the opening line of the story comes from a list of entries submitted by many other people. Dangerdean supplied my opening line (“‘I always told you I’d be back,’ she said, whiskey breath hot against my neck.”); I took it from there.

So, here we go.


“I always told you I’d be back,” she said, whiskey breath hot against my neck. I pissed myself right there in the hallway, feeling like somebody’d just shoved an icicle up my asshole. She laughed, and fingers brushed my cheek.

I bolted, just ran forward blindly until I hit the opposing wall, barely managed to twist myself around so my back slammed against it. My mouth was open and I tried to scream, but nothing came out. I felt like my lungs were seizing; I couldn’t breathe in or out.

The hallway was empty. There was just the front door I’d closed on my way in, and a puddle of piss on my beautiful marble floor.

My pulse hammered in my ears. My vision dimmed. My lungs burned. Finally, air rushed out. I drooled when I exhaled, then breathed in deep. I felt the last drops of urine trickling into my shoe. I wiped my mouth.

“What the fuck,” I whispered. I said her name for the first time in a year. “Marla.”

Marla was dead. She was completely, utterly, entirely fucking dead, and I knew that for a fact because I had throttled the life out of her not fifteen feet from where I was standing, and buried her into the small hole I dug in the bottom of the huge hole they had dug out for the swimming pool. With four feet of concrete and 40,000 gallons of water on top of her lifeless fucking corpse, she had no business sneaking up on me.

“Lee?” I called. “Lee, is that you?”

It wasn’t Lee. It hadn’t been Lee’s voice. Lee didn’t drink, she just smoked pot and worked on her tan, and her voice was two octaves higher, and she wasn’t fucking dead.

Marla had it coming. I was sick of her hard plastic tits and that golden hair she was so proud of and her stretched-out Botox face and the way she laughed at everything that wasn’t funny. The way she fucked the decorator, and the gardener, and my friend Randy, and whoever the fuck else, like it was just a way to pass the time. An affair I could’ve understood. But she was just bored – bored with her girlfriends, bored with her hobbies, bored with me.

I kicked that bitch out a dozen times and she always said she’d be back, and she always was. I always relented. Until I didn’t. You can only push a man so far.

I heard a toilet flush upstairs. I jumped, then felt hope. I didn’t want to move. Right now, with my back against the wall, nothing could creep up on me.

“Lee,” I shouted, “get the fuck down here, right now! Lee!” My voice cracked.

Lee stomped down the stairs, eyes wide. “What? What’s wrong, honey?” She took in my appearance, saw the puddle, the stain on the front of my jeans. She cocked her head, uncertain.

“Has anybody been in here?” I asked.

“Oh my God, Harv. Are you all right? What happened?”

“Are we alone in here?”

She walked up to me, reached for my face, then glanced down. “Harv, are you – I mean, is that pee?” The last word came out as a giggle, then she looked guilty. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry, it’s—”

I slapped her. She rocked back, slowly lifted her hand to her face, stared at me with those blue eyes wide open. She opened her mouth, and I gave her a look, raised my hand, and she closed it again. She backed away, didn’t break eye contact. She slipped her hand into the bowl on the stand by the door, snatched her car keys.

“Lee,” I said, “I’m sorry.” I took a step towards her. My sneaker squished.

“Yeah, you’re sorry, Harv,” she said. “A sorry piece of shit.”

“But I never hit you before,” I said.

“Jesus Christ,” she said, opening the front door, letting a bright beam of sunlight in. “What, you think you get one for free, you unbelievable asshole? Seriously, Harv, fuck your pathetic old man’s bullshit power fantasies, and fuck you.”

“No, listen, you don’t understand—”

She slammed the door.

I bit my lip hard enough to taste blood, took a deep breath. I walked into the den to fix myself a drink. I needed something normal like a drowning man needs air. My hands shook, but I managed to pour the shot without spilling a drop. I raised it to my mouth and made sure I didn’t even glance at the spot on the carpet where she squirmed and wheezed as I squeezed and squeezed.

It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real.

She laughed in my ear, that throaty chuckle I used to live for, and I sprayed vodka.

She ground herself against my back, wrapped her hands around me; I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, alone, my clothes being pulled this way and that by unseen forces.

I stumbled away, smashed the doors open on my way to the patio, felt her tight body pressed against my back. Sunlight glinted on the water.

“Please,” I gasped. “Please don’t.”

Her mouth was on my ear. Her breath was hot. A hand squirmed down and squeezed my limp cock, and it gave me a jolt. I had to run. Past the pool. Over the hedge. I could get to the neighbors. Phil would help me. Phil was good in a crisis.

I slipped.

The water was ice cold, and I went down like a rock.

My face hit the bottom. I held my breath, tried to push up. The horrible weight on my back held me down. Refracted sunlight played on the mosaic created by the Italian tiles. I saw a network of cracks in the tiles, and golden strands of hair floated out from between them.

A hand wound itself in my hair. My lungs burned. Air rushed out, a cloud of bubbles obscuring my vision.

Water rushed in.

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