This story is by Ellory Shaw and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The smoke detector in Sonya’s kitchen sings its song as Sonya races to her oven to salvage her creation. The dull hum of a broken ballast sounds against the creaks of the old Victorian mansion to create a safe mental place for Sonya to hide in. “Tonight is the night.”
Sonya removes three hung sash windows to clear her house of the thick scent of basted meats. Recollections of memories saturate Sonya’s thoughts, filling her soul with a roller coaster of emotions. The Asheville wind swept waves of salty air through her kitchen, bringing life to the silk drapes as it blows.
“David will be here shortly, I hope he’s hungry.” She observes a moment of sorrow for Hank, her late husband and prays for his forgiveness for dating so soon after his death.
She scrapes the solidified grease of her paneled dining room walls. Her butter knife finds a hole and she visits a flashback of Hank throwing his dinner plate, angry that his peas were not salted to his liking. This memory brings the shakes back to her hands. She loses grip of the butter knife and it falls to the floor. “STUPID!” She yells.
The blood on her neck forms instant vertical lines as her fingernails open her skin. She allows herself a moment to sooth herself. “Good idea Hank, I’ll wear the turtle neck dress tonight.” She sighs in thought of his memory.
“Ding Dong” the doorbell screams, jolting her prematurely from her safe mental place. Self-soothing herself, she heads towards the door. Her insecurities surmount as she judges herself in the mirror with hatred of herself. Fidgeting with Hank’s wedding band, she kisses it softly. Tucking the tarnished bronze safely into her bra nearest her heart, for luck that her and David will seal the deal, tonight. “Third date’s a charm.” She says.
She bites her inner lip to release her anger and swallows the blood. “We are ready.” She says.
The sounds of dead bolts give David a restless premonition. Looking around, he questions his intuition. Grizzled and pale, David’s eyes compliment his veins. With trembling hands, he offers Sonya a bouquet of Angelonia, searching for her reaction to his choice of flower. The scent of death flirts past his nose.
Sonya squints at David, slowly drinking him in.
“David, please come in. You look very handsome tonight.” Her eyes flash an ambiguous twinkle as she curtseys.
Sonya could sense his hesitancy to be in her home. She speculates his nervousness falls on the fact that her late husband, Hank, perished here in her home.
Sonya offers David rosé as they sit down on her dusty cameo. She tips the decanter into a glass and the unmistakable sound of solid meeting liquid breaks the silence. With grace she hands David the wine glass.
The jelly-like clumps sway in his glass like a tugboat in a choppy ocean. Anxiety culminates in his stomach. His interest in an old painting is distracted by the scent of rot. “I believe your wine may have expired.” He says.
“Oh dear, you saw that too? I suppose it may be overaged.” She shrugs and tosses back her clumpy wine with a grin. Her teeth are stained with the red matter and chunks rest at her gum line.
Small talk about the weather is exchanged as she crosses her legs. Her dress collects near her hip exposing her garter. Sonya blushes and runs her hand suggestively from her cheekbone to her kneecap. With every ounce of decency, David averts his eyes but finds his curiosity takes over. Not having been with a woman for years since his divorce has left David hungry for affection.
“I hope you enjoy veal…” She says. “Yes, as a matter of fact I…” Before he could finish she whips around and scolds him. Her voice volcanic, her body leaning forward from the intensity of her wrath. “I wasn’t finished!” David winces and takes a step back. Sonya slowly turns away and finishes her dinner offering. “I hope you enjoy veal, sausage, corned beef and stroganoff.”
“Please, allow me Sonya” as he pulls out her chair. “I apologize for interrupting you, I should have been more considerate, you worked so hard making this dinner for us.” Confusion infiltrates his mind over the earlier twinkle he saw in her eyes. While reflecting on the twinkle, he blames his confusion on an earlier shot of whiskey.
David divides his sausage in two and wipes his running nose on his napkin. “I apologize for the runny nose, I am allergic to dus…” He stops himself. “This sausage is delicious; the casing has a strong snap.” Although full, he continues to eat at her pace, aware not to insult her.
As he chews his corned beef, the tip of his tongue observes a sensation that is out of place. Knowing his manners, he swallows his mouthful. Taking further scrutiny of his meal, he gags at the realization of body hair attached to what he thought was corned beef.
“Something the matter dear?” Sonya asks while pouring more congealed blood into her glass.
He abruptly pushes himself away from the table, causing his chair to fall backwards. “What is this? What are you doing? What’s in this meat?” He asks indignantly.
She watches him with stinging eyes as she begins her slow descend on him, like a feline preparing to pounce its prey. “Sit back down at this table right now.” She says through gritted teeth.
Before he can exhale, Sonya meets him face to face. The weight of her breath upon his neck makes his skin prickle. Losing his footing at the sight of the festering red trails down her neck, David stumbles into her sideboard. The sound of her anxious breath fills the room.
“Hank? You in there my love?” Her expression floods with nostalgia and her chin starts to quiver. “I think it worked my love, you’re home my darling! I’ve missed you oh so very much!” She starts to weep as she pulls out Hank’s old wedding ring from her bra. She clutches David’s hand and slips the ring onto his finger.
David’s legs give out and he collapses onto his back, the chunk of Hank’s remains lodges itself in his throat. Horrific images flash through his mind as to what terror awaits for him.
“How many times must I have to tell you to chew your food, Hank. What am I to do with you, for heaven’s sake.” Sonya scolds as she steps hard onto David’s stomach, propelling the meat from his throat.
Pacing the floor, Sonya cups her ears and sings, finding refuge in her safe place.
Gasping for his breath, David scrambles to get to his feet.
“Hank! Come back! Let the process complete itself, darling! Have a bit more veal!” A long and drawn out wail resonates from Sonya as she acknowledges David’s resistance. Clenching her teeth, her fingernails meet her neck again. Now running full speed at David, blood from her lip streams down her mouth again.
David cringes, helpless as Sonya charges at him.
With links of sausage falling from her grip, she lunges herself onto David.
Wrestling about, David loses his grip on her wrists and screams as chunks of Hank forcibly enter his mouth. Panicking to get free, his flailing legs hit the buffet table, triggering a wall panel to come down. Five duffel bags come tumbling out. Post-mortem gas causes a bag to burst, the contents spew onto David. His pulse reacts at his revelation of human remains.
Sonya howls at the realization that David won’t submit to the reincarnation. The twinkle in her eye conveys her grim intention to put David with the other failed candidates.
“Is this where you want to end up? All the men who refused me my Hank’s return are all here!” Sonya yells, pointing to the duffel bags.
Slipping in the remnants of his deceased predecessors, David tries to get back onto his feet.
Scouring for anything he can use to protect himself, he grabs a silver object laying under the sideboard.
“You will bring me back my Hank!” Sonya groans, bearing her teeth as she springs herself back in the air.
David braces for impact, this time the butter knife meets her sternum. His face a mere centimeter from her oozing cuts.
Sonya weeps softly as her last breaths whispers “I love you Hank.”
David strains to roll her lifeless body off him. Her head lay lifeless facing him.
The light peeking through the Holland cloth curtains provide clear confirmation that the twinkle has left Sonya’s eyes.
He removes the ring from his finger and reads the inscription “Till Death Do Us Part.”