It was thundering. The sound was ominous and reflected his mood. The scent of rain was in the air, the stage set perfectly for an argument. He stood at the window, swirling brandy around in his glass while staring pensively at the coming storm.

She pleaded with him from the couch, the sound resembling the screech of a monkey in a cage. She’d been ranting in the same manner for ages. He found he could no longer bear to listen. The fire crackled merrily in the hearth; he heard it in those silent seconds between whining spells. There were too few of those quiet moments, too few peaceful interludes.

It was always something new, another issue to bicker over. His house knew no semblance of tranquility since her invitation to share his life. He walked to the fire to warm his suddenly chill hands. The howling of her voice, like the wind outside, rose to new heights.

She came to stand beside him. Her bony hands took hold of his shoulders to shake him, her long fingernails biting into his skin. He wasn’t even aware of her sentiments. They all blurred together in a never-ending cacophony of sound.

He’d had enough. Throwing his glass into the fire he turned to face her. One hand reached out to grasp the fire poker.

She backed away slowly, the fear of God in her eyes as he raised the sheath of metal above his head, a warning to her of things to come if she continued on her chosen path. Her tone changed quickly enough from whining petulance to shrill begging. Begging for the calm he so desperately desired before, for him to stop and think about things.

Of what things he couldn’t fathom. He’d had time to think already, of all the terrible acts he wished to perform upon her. Those were his dreams as he lay in bed, the first thoughts to cross his mind in the morning when he woke; the thousand ways he could make it so that he never had to hear her voice again.

The fire poker hadn’t been his first choice, but one had to improvise with the circumstances.

Her words hummed together like a drone of bees in his ear. He heard nothing, the crackle of fire, the wind and the rain on the window pane were no longer there.

Her eyes were wide, her voice tremulous as she finally began to see that there was no way out for her. He held the poker higher, one thought echoing through his mind:


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