This story is by Janet Leigh Green and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
The distinct smell of Marie’s favorite perfume rose through the air, and it felt like a huge blanket suffocating me. She stood in front of me, and her mouth moved, but I heard no sound.
Her beauty both intoxicated and intimidated me, she had a way of looking at me that made me nervous. Her icy blue eyes and white blonde hair reminded me of a snow queen; I felt fortunate to call her my wife. A mismatched pair we were; I never understood what she saw in me with my idiosyncrasies and half-filled soul. She seemed perfect for me in the beginning. Her warmth and generosity drew me closer to her, but lately, she replaced those traits with frigid glares and stinginess. I reach for her in the night, and she belittles me with criticisms of my manhood and stamina. I realized the dilemma I created for myself had turned into a giant monster ready to swallow me whole. The crazy thing is, the betrayal Marie is so convinced of remains a blur. Convinced of my infidelity, Marie’s trust in me lessons, as my hatred for her grows.
It took forever to convince Marie to let me go to Vegas. A weekend in Sin City with the guys rolling dice and flipping cards, but Marie made it clear; she thought it would be a night filled with laser lights and stripper poles. My excitement for the trip centered around one thing and one thing only. No Marie.
This will be the best weekend of my life. The sun disappeared below the horizon painting the desert sky a deep shade of purple. The prickly thorns of the cacti looked like middle fingers gesturing me to get the hell out, but my egotistic mind convinced me to shift my new Jaguar convertible into high gear. Armed with a roll of hundred dollar bills and a massive amount of adrenaline rushing through my veins, I pressed the gas pedal to the floorboard and headed out west howling at the full moon.
THUD! The car swerved out of control. “Son of a bitch,” I yelled as I struggled to get the car under control. I made my way over to the shoulder, and my brake lights illuminated something in the road as I looked in the rearview mirror. “What the hell was that?” Panicked and disoriented, I pulled my lanky frame out of the car and made my way to the object in the road. I moved closer squinting in the dim red glow of my tail lights. “Oh, my God, no,” I screamed. I fell to my knees in disbelief as I witnessed her eyes close when she took her last gasp of air.
I run back to the car and circle several times searching for signs of the accident and find nothing. The lights from my car shine through the desert night on the empty road. “I need to get out of here,” I say making up my mind to cover up the death of the girl. She can’t be that important out here in the middle of nowhere alone walking in the middle of the road in the dark.
I popped the trunk and pulled out the yellow blanket I keep in case of emergencies. I spread the blanket out and knelt beside the girl. She’d landed partially on her side, and her mangled face turned toward me, I froze. She looked familiar. I suddenly felt a chill in the warm summer night, as I struggled to roll her in the blanket, and the thought of rigor mortis and decay made my stomach churn. I tucked the blanket around her, but I couldn’t bring myself to cover her face.
“For dead weight, she’s light,” I muttered, grimacing at my insensitivity, as I carried her away from the road, deep into the dark desert night.
When I couldn’t walk any further, I dropped her, and it dawned on me I had no shovel. I stomped my foot down on the hard-packed earth. “How the hell am I going to bury this body?” I turned in circles squinting in the darkness and make my way to a group of prickly plants. “Wow, these are big enough to hide a body,” I said. I placed the body in the middle of a large group of cacti shoving her in as deep as I could, careful to keep her away from the quills. “I would have a frigging bright yellow blanket in case of emergencies,” I said walking around the grove of cacti to get a view from every angle, satisfied there was no hint of the yellow beacon from any direction. I scurried back to my car.
I checked the car one more time for evidence of an accident. No dings or scratches in the dark. I will need to go through a ‘do-it-yourself’ car wash on the way to the hotel for a closer look.
A shiver ran through me as I pulled open the car door, and I began to shake uncontrollably. “Oh God, Oh God! What have I done? I can’t leave that poor girl here, can I?” My knees buckled underneath me, and I slid down the open door and landed in a sobbing heap on the ground.
The soft sound of the song ‘Back In Black’ penetrated my brain in slow increments, bringing me back from the bottomless pit of sorrow that swallowed me whole. Holy shit, holy shit goddamn. I’m ok. I’m fine. Calm down.
I realized it was my cell phone and pulled myself into the car plucking my phone out of the holder. “Hello?”
“Sam? Where are you, dude? We figured you’d be here over an hour ago. You ok?” Rick said.
“Uh, I got a little tied up. But, I’ll be there soon.” I said.
“Ok, well, we’re in the casino. Get your ass here! We are rolling high, and Scott already won 5K!”
“Oh, okay, I’ll be there soon, probably an hour or so,” ending the call completely distraught.
I made it to the hotel in less than an hour; I remembered nothing after the phone call from Rick, it’s as if my mind shut down. I stood alone in the elevator waiting for the doors to open on my floor and everything came rushing back in a bone-crushing wave of despair. What am I going to tell Marie? Someone is going to find her, that damn yellow blanket is going to be a screaming beacon, look over here! Oh no, did I wash the car? I can’t remember. Is the valet going to notice something? Oh shit!
The elevator doors opened, and I stepped onto my floor, as fractured thoughts of holding the water sprayer over the front grill of my car flicker through my mind. I felt a small sense of relief. “I did wash it. I remember! I’ll be ok.” I muttered to myself as I looked at room numbers.
I gambled and drowned myself in alcohol, somehow making it through the weekend.
I barely paid attention to the desolate highway in front of me, my eyes strayed to the right, searching the shoulder of the road for the spot, the place on the lonely road that changed my life forever and catapulted me into an insurmountable cavern of despair. I never found it, nor did I see anything resembling a bright yellow blanket. I felt some consolation; surely the body was hidden well, tucked tight into the cacti. I can’t see it, so no one else can see it either, right? I thought, desperately trying to convince myself that everything was ok. I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head, wanting to rid my brain of the nightmare, but I saw her face when I closed my eyes. That face was oddly familiar to me. Did I know her? I can’t shake the feeling that I knew her from somewhere.
At breakfast one morning not long after I returned from my weekend getaway Marie asked, “Are you alright, Sam?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Why do you ask?”
“You have been distant and quiet since you got back from your Vegas Trip. Did something happen there?”
I paused a beat too long before asking, “No, why, do you think something happened?”
Marie gave me her I don’t believe you, and you will tell me the truth glare, but her attention shifted to the television above the bar.
Marie’s face paled to an almost translucent white, “Oh, my God.”
“Wha –,” my words died in my throat. On the television screen was the girl from my trip. The girl I killed. I swallowed the glob of dread hanging in my esophagus. “Marie, do you know her?”
Her head snapped around so fast; I thought her neck might break. “Are you trying to be funny Sam? We both know her.” Her focus turned to me, “Is this what you’re so distracted about Sam? They are saying she is missing, did you do something to her?”
I looked from Marie to the TV; the girl’s picture mocked me silently, while recognition flooded over me. “Oh no.”
My mind flashed back to a trip we took to Vegas a few years ago; we stayed in a hotel owned by Marie’s family. Memories flooded my brain, the girl’s face flashed in my mind from that long-ago day. What was her name? I can’t remember. She looks different, older now, that’s why I didn’t recognize her, I thought. I felt an attraction to her right off; I remember that well enough.
I knew Marie’s feelings for me were those of revulsion, so I welcomed the attention from the young girl. Her smile lit up the room as we approached the front desk, the smile only for me, as she checked us in.
“Sam, did you see her during your trip to Vegas?” Marie moved in front of me blocking my view of the screen, jolting me out of my reverie.
“No, well not in the way you mean,” I said, still distracted by memory.
“How then? In what way?” Her eyes filled with tears. Marie didn’t cry often, so this rare show of emotion brought me all the way back to the present.
“I killed her,” I said the words matter of fact; I just spit them out as if I were commenting on the weather.
Marie’s jaw dropped; no sound came from her for a long beat, then she busted out laughing. I blinked and stepped back. “What’s so funny?”
“Oh Sam, that is rich. So, you want me to believe that you actually killed someone and it just so happens to be the girl you had an affair with? What happened?”
“I told you over and over; there was no affair. I killed that girl. I ran her over with my car.”
Marie lost all composure, as new tears glistened in her eyes, but from ridiculing laughter.
“What is so funny Marie?” Hate burned through me.
She moved side so that I could see the screen one more time.
“Read the caption, Sam,” she smirked. “How could you not realize the girl was alive? Did you even feel for a pulse? Look at her? You obviously didn’t do a lot of damage; she’s walking around for God’s sake. Idiot!”
‘MISSING GIRL FOUND!’ The caption scrolled underneath footage of the girl getting out of a police car wrapped in a bright yellow blanket.
Waves of relief washed over me, the deep crevice of despair where I resided closed, leaving me whole. I knew the girl never saw me, and Marie couldn’t stand the embarrassment of a scandal, as her husband, I am off limits. I felt the weight lift from my shoulders and turned to Marie. “I think it’s time we work on our marriage, my dear.”