Jibe

To Jibe means to agree, as one definition. In sailing it’s also the opposite of ‘tack’ in which you go across the wind rather than jibe, go with the wind. This piece was submitted to the PWP, Professional Writers of Prescott group of which I am a member. Will be part of 2018 Anthology. Late in the process, a request was made for more short stories that could fit on one page (<450 words), a printing accommodation.

JIBE

He was reasonably sure that his look of concern and husbandly demeanor was convincing. Her doctor was going on about the test they were running, and he hung on the doctor’s every word, nodding at this suggestion, pursing his lips at this medical conclusion. But he already knew the outcome or the hoped-for one.

A quarter tablet every three days he was told. The poison would build up doing its damage slowly, inexorably. Any greater dose and she would still be dead, but the molecules would pool in her organs and be detected. He had been assured, promised, that it would be undetectable, untraceable but more importantly, effective. And it seemingly was, he still had two tablets left.

The doctor went on. The liver, the kidneys, both were failing. Time was short, treatment options exhausted. Needed to find a cause. But the faithful husband knew there would be no discovery, couldn’t be any discovery; ever.

It was late. She was sedated. He told the nurse he needed to go home for a few hours but would return to his wife’s bedside that night. Would someone be here to let him into the hospital? Yes, the guard in the emergency lobby would let him in. Gratitude exuded from the obviously exhausted husband.

He showered and pulled on a pair of slacks and a tee-shirt. He had skipped lunch and dinner to make a showing at his wife’s bedside; his stomach rumbled a bit. He could grab something out of the fridge before returning his vigil, unless, of course, they called.

He was particular in what he ate: she was not. It showed. She had let herself go, at least to his standards. He was still trim at sixty-seven, an enviable physique, a well-maintained body. She was ‘relaxed’ she would say.

He thought of the kitchen as two camps in a war zone; his was a Spartan’s field, hers was a Bacchus’ trough. He opened the refrigerator door and pulled a glass carafe of power drink. He closed the door and gulped down the whole container, almost greedily, eyes closed. When he opened his eyes to watch the last drops slip from its lip to his, he noticed a small note stuck to the bottom.

Her handwriting, ’Sorry dear.’ A moment’s pause. A cramp, a churning and nausea. His eyes opened wide. He dropped the carafe and spun through to the living room, then to his office at the further end of the house. He yanked open the desk drawer, and an empty bottle rattled around like the tail of a snake. And another note, ‘Sorry dear.’

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