women. writers.

Flash Fiction: "Sacrifice" by Rebecca Nugara

In order to wash your hands, to really thoroughly wash your hands, you first need a good quality soap. Then it’s mostly a matter of technique. You must lather the soap and get the soap to water ratio exactly right. Once you have a nice consistency, it’s all about being meticulous; no grain of soil can remain in the lines of the palm and nothing under the fingernails either. It’s really rather therapeutic, especially the reward for getting it just right. The rewards definitely outweigh the sacrifice.

***

She smiled to herself as she wiped her hands dry over the kitchen sink.

     “What are you smiling at?” he grunted from his seat.

     “Oh, nothing, it’s a rather charming day, don’t you think?” He rolled his eyes and continued to read his morning paper. “Do you think you’ll be late again tonight?”

     “I can’t be sure.”

     “Well, do you know when you’ll be getting home?”

     “I’ll get home when I get home, alright?”

     She sighed and shook her head as she hung the hand towel on its rack—making sure it was
folded exactly in half—and removed her apron, placing it straight into the washing machine. She came back into the kitchen to find her husband putting on his jacket and picking up his briefcase.

     “I shouldn’t be too late,” he gave her a kiss on the cheek and, with that, he was in the garage. She looked down at the newspaper strewn across the table and the coffee mug without a coaster, leaving a ring mark on her perfectly polished wooden tabletop. Now, this wouldn’t do.

     A woman’s home was a reflection of her self-respect. She couldn’t understand women who would let their houses get to such a state. She wouldn’t be found dead in some of her neighbors’ houses. They didn’t understand how she had the time. She was a homemaker. It was her full-time job. Ask her and she could tell you the exact method to clean anything thoroughly; she was nothing if not thorough.

     Every day, she made the bed she shared with her husband, cleaned the shower her husband
had used, washed the clothes they had worn the day before, and dusted every surface.

     The house was completely clean and everything was prepared when she heard the garage
door open, announcing her husband’s arrival two hours late.

     “Sorry I was so late, darling.”

     “I kept your dinner warm for you.”

     “Ah, what would I do without you?” He sat at the table and filled his face with her special
recipe. “Aren’t you eating?”

     She just smiled at him, “I already ate,” she answered as she watched him eat in delight. It wasn’t long after he had finished eating and was watching his nightly programs that, from the kitchen sink, she heard him knock over his glass. She heard it shatter and a few coughs before the silence was restored.

     She hummed as she hung up her apron and made towards the lounge, flicking the
television off and switching on the light. She hummed some more as she cleaned up the broken glass and the vomit. She continued humming as she closed her husband’s glassy dead eyes. He had such beautiful eyes, she reflected. Such a pity.

     Still humming, she used the old shovel to dig a deep hole. Through most of the night, she dug,
humming to a tune only she could hear. It was moments like these she thanked the
heavens she lived in such a quiet neighborhood. Once the hole was dug she dragged her
husband into it and started filling it up. Once it was full she retrieved a small envelope of
seeds from her pocket and planted and watered them. She stood for a moment, admiring
her new flower bed before retreating back inside.

     She threw her shoes away and her clothes into the washing machine before showering
and going to bed.

     She woke early the next morning and ate breakfast and cleaned the dishes. And then came
that fateful time.

     In order to wash your hands, to really thoroughly wash your hands, you first need a
good soap. Then it’s mostly a matter of technique. You must lather the soap and get the
soap-to-water ratio exactly right. Once you have a nice consistency, it’s all about being
meticulous; no grain of soil can remain on the palm, and nothing under the fingernails either.

     She looked out the window at all the flower beds around her yard in various stages of
growth and smiled to herself. It was really rather therapeutic, especially the reward for getting it just right.

     She wiped her hands and turned around to look at the table: no strewn newspaper and no
ring marks from the coffee mug.

     Oh yes, the rewards definitely outweighed the sacrifice.

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