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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shrewdness (03/07/05)

TITLE: The Perfect Brew
By Joanne Malley


Harold bought me that nifty, new gadget—the microwave.

Certainly, more time saving implements would be invented in the 1960s and I knew Harold would want to purchase them for me. It was his generosity that initially attracted me. We also had two black and white televisions; so naturally, every woman on the block envied me.

In my gourmet kitchen, I prepared his Saturday lunch. He delighted in carved turkey and Swiss, so I surprised him today. A specially brewed iced tea, in a tall frosted glass, also awaited him.

With a sharp knife, I carefully sliced a wedge of lemon. As I squeezed it into his glass, my eye stung when it caught a stream of bitter juice. The smell of fresh citrus encircled me. I could inhale that scent all day.

He never tasted this blend of iced tea before—it contained a secret ingredient. I’ll never reveal the exact blend. After all, a chef never divulges an entire recipe. I added plenty of honey and stirred it to perfection.

The kitchen door swung open and I heard his footsteps shuffle on the floor.

I turned to place his lunch on the table. Our eyes met.

“What’s that look?” Harold asked. “You’re cracking the most unusual grin.”

“Oh, I don’t know, darling. Happy to see you…I guess,” I replied.

I planted a kiss on his cheek; my lips lingered longer than usual. A smudge of crimson lipstick remained.

“Enjoy your lunch, darling.”

“Looks terrific, Vivian. I’m starved,” Harold said.

I turned from him and went to the sink. A chill ran up my spine. I was cold to the bone. My body shivered despite my heavy sweater. Odd. The kitchen window was tightly sealed. Hopefully, Harold wasn’t affected by the frigidness in the air.

He devoured every bite of his lunch and remarked about the tea.

“Great iced tea, Viv. Excessively sweet for my taste, but still delicious,” Harold remarked.

My eyes never left him and I watched him closely.

Newspaper in hand, he remained in the kitchen chair and sat for a while, engrossed in reading.

He finally looked up—my crimson kiss of death still on his face. That same chill ran up my spine again. He tried to speak. A befuddled look glazed over his eyes. He reached out to grab my hand, but I stepped back. He became a bit spasmodic and looked at me helplessly. He mumbled and then slumped over his plate.

It was done.

I made the perfect brew. He finished every drop.

Harold would never know the special ingredient, nor would anyone else. Succinylcholine chloride. It worked like a charm—very soluble in water. Undetectable in the human body. A bit bitter, but the excess honey took care of that.

My previous husband was never the wiser either.

I went to the living room. The fire was burning and I listened to it crackle. Harold must have started it before lunch. I retrieved the book I was reading, “The Black Widow.” Clara, the main character, was cunning, just like those hairy spiders. I connected with her. I never felt bad—never knew remorse. Good thing. It gets in the way of my plans. However, deep inside, for a fleeting moment, I’ve sensed my actions could be wrong.

I sat back in his favorite chair, entranced by the fire.

In time, an envelope from Chesterfield Insurance would arrive. I continued to immerse myself in the comfort of leather and thought of my inheritance. The sweet smell of green was still fresh in my mind.

I got up from Harold’s chair and stared out the window. I thought about what I’d just done.

Exactly, what does God forgive; how does He forgive? I wondered.

Would I forever cling to the web I’ve spun?

The ambulance will soon be here. It’s time for my recurring role as the grieving widow. I’m quite convincing. It’ll be another unexplained death thanks to my drug of choice.

John Porter lives down the street. His wife passed away six months ago. Pity. Perhaps, he needs some company—a little comfort from a female caller…

God help us both.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gave me the creeps! I guess that's what it was supposed to do. Nice job, not so nice character.(: What was the name of that stuff again.hahah (Only kidding)(:
Lynda Lee Schab 03/14/05
This WAS creepy - and deliciously so! Great writing!
Blessings, Lynda
Lynne Cox03/15/05
Yikes! Very well-written, his last lunch was nicely detailed. Loved the "kiss of death" on his cheek.
Debbie OConnor03/15/05
YIKES! Quite a fascinating, vivid and frightening tale you told. Great work.
Linda Germain 03/15/05
Well written! I was hoping she would forget and take a sip too, but then there would never be a chance to repent. Nice to be reminded how shrewdness can go either way: good/evil. Good job. ~LG~
donna robinson03/20/05
hmmm chilling read!
Sally Hanan03/21/05
I guess your brew was too perfect for the challenge!!