Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Valentine (05/16/05)
TITLE: A Fine Chocolate Line
By Lynda Lee Schab
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Twenty-three. That's how many Valentine's Days have come and gone since Gerald and I have been married.
Zero. That's the number of Valentine's Days we've spent together. On February twelve, something invariably comes up that takes Gerald out of town for a few days, leaving me to celebrate the holiday alone. Sometimes it's work. Sometimes it's a fishing trip with his buddies. But Gerald hasn't been home on Valentine's Day in twenty-three years.
Not that I'm a sucker for romance; I'm not. I prefer a ball game myself to roses and candlelight, although I do appreciate a good bottle of wine. But that's beside the point. Married people should be together on "love" day, plain and simple.
It's ironic, really. Every time before he left, Gerald would place a heart-shaped box of his favorite chocolates on the kitchen counter. Maybe that was my darling husband's way of saying he didn't truly forget this special day. The funny thing is, I'm allergic to chocolate and if I ate just one piece, I would meet my Maker. I wouldn't be surprised if Gerald was simply too ignorant to remember this seemingly unimportant tidbit of information even after twenty-three years of marriage. More likely, however, he was brilliant enough to know my weak will and was hoping the chocolates would be gone when he returned, and me along with them.
The first few years, I was naïve enough to believe Gerald's excuses but after six or seven years, the obvious was staring me in the eyeballs - my husband was cheating on me. Not that I could imagine anyone else wanting Gerald, but facts were facts.
I first began plotting my attack last February fifteen, the day Gerald returned from his "fishing trip." Spotting the chocolates still sitting on the counter, he plucked a couple out of the package and popped them in his mouth, probably figuring he might as well finish something off, even if it couldn't be me. From that moment on I planned my revenge to give Gerald a taste of his own medicine, so to speak.
I have to say I was pretty sneaky. I watched enough "Murder She Wrote" in my time to make a darn good private eye. So on February twelve when Gerald announced he would be leaving on a business trip, I put on my detective shoes and discovered he had registered two people for two nights in a condo in Crimeny, Texas. The fact that he used his very own name surprised me but it did make him easier to track.
I packaged the chocolates carefully, in a heart-shaped box. Upon close inspection you could see the needle marks, evidence of the poison I'd injected into each piece, but I wasn't worried; it was Gerald after all. I had watched him mindlessly pop chocolates into his mouth without so much as a glance. I anonymously shipped them off to the hotel, sat back and waited.
I was prepared for the phone call. I was prepared for the death. What I was not prepared for was for the call to be from my dear husband himself and for the death to be of his mother. I listened to Gerald explain how his mother had been locked up in a loony bin since he was ten. Every year on her birthday - February fourteen - he paid her a visit and signed her out on a pre-approved three-day leave from the asylum. Gerald had been so ashamed of his mother that he never breathed a word to me in all these years.
Today Gerald is home for the first Valentine's Day in twenty-four years. He brought me chocolates again. I sometimes wonder what made Gerald choose last year to pass by the chocolates he loved so much and allow his mother eat them all. Maybe Gerald wasn't as dumb as I thought.
Yes, love and hate walk a fine line. These days I find myself hovering more on love's side. But if Gerald misses another Valentine's Day, I may just find myself unable to resist crossing over again. I never was much good at resisting temptation.
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