An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories
THEY say that when a woman marries she leaves her parents to be joined with her husband in sickness and in health till death do them part. They become one in mind and in soul, hearts joined.
So damn true these words, I pondered tearfully as I sat on the cold cement floor. Grey brick walls, a small cell reeking of urine, stale air drifting in through a tiny grilled space near the roof, the only way out a heavy iron door bolted in place.
My head ached terribly, my tears flowed uncontrollably, the pain in my heart pressed against my lungs, I felt I would choke.
“Why did I do it, why did my anger get the better of me, why, why?”
I thought of my beloved son, Shawn, chubby face, tear stained cheeks, struggling with outstretched arms to get to me when I was handcuffed by police outside our house that morning. He was only four. And baby Sheena wriggling in Gertrude’s grasp. Gertrude holding her tightly stopping Shawn from running towards me.
As the police vehicle left, my heart was wrenched in grief. “Please, my babies need me, please,” I begged. The policemen looked through the windows as if something outside had caught their attention.
Buildings and vehicles rolled by. My thoughts were with my children. How would they endure life without me, particularly now their Dad was gone.
Jim was once my whole life. Half Oro, half German. Handsome. Brilliant. At age 27 already a partner with Schauss and Partners law firm he joined after graduating from university. We’d had a lavish wedding at the Botanical Gardens in Port Moresby and moved into a big house on Touaguba Hill.
Jim made sure I had everything I wanted. He was kind and respectful, took me on holidays overseas, showered me with gifts, he was my world.
Our life was made complete when Shawn was born on 15 December 2006, an adorable fair-skinned boy with a chubby face and thick curly hair. He took after Jim.
Baby Sheena was born two years later, a pretty little thing. They were adorable and Jim spent most of his free time with them and showered them with all sorts of dolls and toys. We donated four bags of them to the Cheshire Homes last Christmas. As for me, I couldn’t ask for more.
But two months ago, Jim’s behaviour changed. He was moody and worked late into the night and even on weekends. He was defensive when I enquired why the job demanded more of his time. He was often tired and seemed less interested playing with the kids, at times speaking harshly to them.
This Saturday, Shawn was up early, had breakfast and rushed into our bedroom with a balloon which he playfully pushed into Jim’s face. Jim woke up and roughly shoved Shawn aside. He went to the bathroom and I heard the shower.
Then his mobile phone rang in his jacket and I reached into the pocket and took it. There were 15 missed calls from the same number and an unread message from an hour before.
’Honey, the pains are much worse, I am taken to St Marys. I called you several times but you must be asleep. Come to St Marys. Love. Stella.’
Was that message intended for my husband?
I scrolled to the Outbox. Jim’s message was sent at 3:00am to Stella or whoever the bitch was.
‘How are you, darling. How’s the pain? Let me know if you are going to hospital. You know I can’t come at this time, it might be suspicious. Can’t wait to hold our baby in my arms. Be with you forever. Love, Jim.’
I took a deep breath and tears welled up in my eyes. Shawn tugged at my blouse, holding his balloon up to me. I perched myself on the arm of the sofa and blew it up.
Jim came out of the shower and quickly dressed, muttered that he was off to the office and trotted down the stairs.
“You liar, damn sickening liar,” I thought. “Liar, liar,” I screamed as my anger got the better of me. I hurled the ashtray across the room, smashed the photo frame into the glass cabinet and punched the wall.
Then I let out a shrill peal of laughter like a mad woman, folded my fists and walked to the kitchen. ‘No, Jim, I am not your fool, you will surely pay.’ I pulled from the drawer a long silver handled knife.
I drove straight to St Mary’s Clinic. The staff knew me well. Nurse Joyce, a polite young lady, was at the counter. I nodded to her and headed straight down the corridor towards Maternity. I pushed open the glass door and looked around.
Jim was standing at the Labour Ward entrance, pacing up and down, his back to me. An elderly Asian lady dozed on the sofa near the window.
I slowly approached Jim, right hand in my coat pocket. “So you lied to me, right,” I said in a shaky voice as Jim turned around, surprised. In one swift action, the knife was in his chest, twisting and turning as I drove deeper.
He lifted his hands and let out a gurgling sound his eyes wide with panic as blood spewed everywhere. He slumped down his hands on the knife handle lodged in his chest.
I turned around to walk out. The Asian woman was now wide awake, eyes as wide as saucers, but she made no noise. I calmly walked out and drove home and headed shakily to the bathroom, closing the door behind me.
A police siren was coming closer. I took off my coat, changed my blood-stained tee-shirt and headed downstairs.Gertrude was answering the door as I approached. “Are you Mrs Dawson.” I was told they were arresting me for the death of my husband, Jim Dawson. I felt empty, weak, alone.
Revenge had come at a price I could not bear.