1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Contest Winner! Congrats to @Sethypoo98 for "Dinner for Two", contest #171

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Apr 11, 2015.

    Short Story Contest # 171
    Theme: "Sliced Bread" courtesy of @lustrousonion.

    @Sethypoo98's winning story was well written. The ending made it less predictable, the last line great.

    The other stories were well written. The quality of the writing of all these short stories has been excellent for months.

    Thanks to everyone for your participation.

    The next theme is "Dream Home", a submissions thread to be up soon.

    _________________________________
    "Dinner for Two" (1,068 words)

    Amanda slumped, utterly exhausted, on the battered couch of her cramped but tidy living room. She’d been working for hours- cleaning, vacuuming , dusting, sweeping, and cooking- so that her husband would have a comfortable place to return to after a day of grueling labor. The sunlight that shined through the living room window was beginning to fade into the pale, eerie light of dusk, foreshadowing the arrival of her beloved spouse. With this in mind, Amanda heaved her weary body off of the couch with great effort and made her way back to the kitchen to make final preparations for dinner.

    In the kitchen there were various pots and pans cooking a plethora of vegetables, meats, and desserts. One by one, Amanda ladled them into decorative serving dishes that she reserved for parties and other special occasions. As she moved the dishes over to the table, Amanda noticed an obstruction that had previously averted her gaze- a small .38 revolver that she kept for protection in their occasionally dangerous South Boston neighborhood. Glancing at it with disdain, for she detested violence, Amanda stuffed the revolver into the waistband in the back of the sweatpants she was wearing- she would put it away later. She replaced this nefarious object with the much more pleasant options of mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, steak, roast chicken, and, last but not least, a warm loaf of bread.

    At nearly the exact moment that Amanda set the final plate in its place on the table, she heard the front door creak conspicuously open, followed by the sounds of her husband’s heavy boots passing through it into the living room. Moving quickly to greet him, Amanda saw that he was still wearing his tool belt and was covered with concrete dust from what she assumed was another job demolishing old, soon-to-be-replaced buildings in the distant housing projects.

    “Welcome home, John!” exclaimed Amanda, smiling. “I hope you had a wonderful day! Dinner’s on the table!”

    John pushed by her without a word, loping sluggishly through the kitchen and into the bathroom. After a moment, the sound of a running shower filled the air. With a disappointed sigh, Amanda walked, her head hung in defeat, back into the kitchen and sat in her spot waiting once more for her beloved husband to return.

    After several minutes, John finally made his way to the table, his skin now devoid of the gray concrete dust, and sat down with a careless groan.

    “What would you like, dear?” asked Amanda enthusiastically, her wide smile remaining plastered on her face. “I made your favorite- steak, mashed potatoes, chicken…everything you like!”

    Surveying the spread with a skeptical stare, John let out a long, critical sigh to show just how utterly enthused he was.

    “You forgot to slice the bread, Amanda.”

    “Oh, of course.” Amanda enthusiasm was shifting gradually into nervous compliance. “I’ll just go grab a knife and-“

    “You don’t get it, Amanda!” Interjected John impatiently. “It’s not just about the bread. I’ve been out busting my ass for ten straight hours! You’ve been sitting in this house for that entire time and you don’t even have the ounce of intelligence or willpower that it would take to slice the fucking bread? I’d like to at least have dinner completely prepared for me by the time I get home!”

    Amanda, her façade of joyfulness beginning to crumble, stammered for a reply.

    “I-I-I… well, I just…I just thought that maybe…”

    “Maybe what, Amanda? Maybe I’d like to swing a fucking sledgehammer for ten hours and then come home and have to slice my own bread, too? Why do you think I married you if you can’t even do this one simple task? It’s pathetic!”

    Amanda was beginning to break down. A tear had already begun to roll down her pale cheek. As she stood up to go to the bathroom in anticipation of a fountain of tears and running makeup, John mirrored her on the other side of the table and kept looking at her with his furious blue eyes.

    “Don’t you fucking move, you dumb whore! I would like to eat dinner with my wife, even if she is incompetent! Now you stay put and I’ll cut the damn bread myself.”

    Amanda sat down again, lost in the pool of despair that was this life she had fallen into. John, infuriated beyond reason, moved with sharp, angry, forceful movements to the end of the table where the unsliced loaf of bread lay. He drew a long, crude pocket knife and began to fumble with it, trying to get it open with motor skills that had been made inefficient by his rage.

    “I’m out of the house for the entire god damned day, and all you can do is sit around and just play fucking solitaire or some stupid shit like that for hours and hours and hours. Well I’m sick of it. You are such a stupid, incompetent, dogfaced, shit-for-brains, lazy-“

    His sentence was cut short by the bullet that cut through his chest. John fell backwards onto the ground beside the table with a thump, and Amanda was left gasping in shock and holding the .38 revolver shakily in her right hand, its barrel still smoking. For a moment she sat there terrified of what she had done and what she had become, fearful of the future and what it held for her. And then her terror was replaced by a feeling of absolute freedom, of hope, of new beginnings and new opportunities- of a better life away from this cesspool of violence and abuse. And then she ran.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    When the police arrived, they found John lying dead in a pool of his own blood on the floor. A small .38 revolver was sitting next to the heaps of food on the table, and one of the shells inside was lacking its bullet. The perpetrator was, as one might expect, nowhere to be found. The inspectors moved like curious tourists throughout the room, snapping pictures of the food and the gun and the body.

    The chief inspector surveyed the scene like a watchful lion, his gaze moving slowly over each object, digesting every detail of what lay before him. After about fifteen minutes of solemn observation, the officer put his cap on, turned around to leave, and made a final decisive conclusion.

    “Poor bastard didn’t even have time to slice the bread.”
     
  2. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Congrats! I also thought the last line was excellent.
     

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