The Wedding Ring

The butcher knife rode down a one way street right into his heart. I played the part of the driver.
I tried, I swear to God, I did. I tried jamming pen into paper, but nothing changed. I scribbled my name in a box labeled, “Petitioner”, but the world didn’t shake when I was done. The bloodstained stuffed bear I found under his empty bottle of Jack Daniels didn’t disappear. Neither did the child’s scream in my head, nor the scars on my chest, nor the weights on my lips wrestling any smiles I’d try to let grow on them.
He used his second-to-last breath to stare at me in confusion.
“Why, Jules?” his eyes said. Mine responded with tears. My hand grew hot and wet with blood, but I didn’t move. I thought about the white beaches in Hawaii when we were young—before the doctor and before Kayla. He always knew the best places to go—where the sunset would look the prettiest, where the drinks were perfect, exactly when to kiss me. He always knew every little thing.
He seemed to miss the big ones, though. Until the call from the doctor. The call that painted the word “STERILE” in big letters right across his forehead. Then he only knew the quickest way to open a cheap bottle of whiskey.
God, what am I doing?
He used his last breath to glare at me in anger.
“You’re a shitty wife,” I remember him saying last week. “You’ve always been a piece of shit wife.”
I covered my face in shame. He’s right. Kayla was walking proof of that. Walking, singing, crying proof of my mistake. Why did she have to be so beautiful?
“You’re right, Robert.” I began to withdraw the knife from his chest.
“And you’re a shit mother, too.”
The knife shot right back—it went as deep as I could get it.
“Not anymore!” I yelled at the corpse. “Not anymore.”
He died with that glare on his face. I sobbed by his bed for twenty minutes, yelling at him—at both of us—in my head for getting ourselves into this stupid mess. Poor Kayla. I am a shit mother, aren’t I?
“Mommy?”
There she is now. She walked into our bedroom. My heart melted at the bruise on her face. I could clearly see the wedding ring painted in purple on it. The wedding ring Igave that bastard five years ago. I handed him the weapon.
“Did daddy hurt you, mommy?”
“Yes, but he can’t anymore, honey. He’s not your daddy anymore. He never was.”
“His eyes are still looking at me.”
I threw my hands around her, burying her face in my chest, and blocking her view, only realizing too late that I had smeared blood all over her pajamas.
“We’ll be all right now,” I said blankly. “We’ll be all right.”
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