Flash Fiction Challenge: Victory After Death
My first-ever short story, so constructive critiques are welcome.
Disclaimer: I usually write young adult/middle grade fiction. This, while mild, is definitely adult.
– Victory After Death –
The body is starting to smell. I don’t know how long it’s been — one day, maybe two. The whole time I’ve been sitting here on my bed. I keep flashing back to the accident. Thing is, that’s really frustrating since I can’t exactly remember the accident anymore. Just what happened before. And what happened after.
Maya gave me that I’ll-despise-you-forever-if-you-don’t-come-with-me-Deter stare and, as per usual, I caved. Only for her, I lied to myself.
Bars, clubs. Never my thing. I didn’t even like to drink. Nevertheless, I was behind the wheel, headed straight to the lush’s paradise uptown.
Thirty minutes in — that’s when it started getting iffy. Maya asked me to dance. I hated dancing. I danced anyway. Blackness. The warm burn of alcohol. Blackness. The men’s room. Vomit in the sink. More blackness.
And then bright, hot light. Followed by a blow to my head. Followed by pain.
Followed by being dragged.
“What? Ow!” I complained. Now fully awake, I wiped my eyes and looked up. Maya stood over me next to the driver’s side of a pickup. She crouched down and extended her hand.
“We gotta get out of here. Deter, come on.”
I clasped my hand around her forearm. Standing had the oh-so-pleasant side effect of nausea, but the truck provided a good place for leaning.
She pulled me relentlessly. Everything about her radiated urgency. Panic. She must have been screaming, but I couldn’t hear her. Her eyes were wide, and she kept looking past me.
I turned my head. Two cars. Or rather, one truck and what was left of a car on the side of a back road.
And then I was standing over the the antique Honda. There was Maya’s husband in the driver’s seat. The crash had spared most of his face, but not much below that. And her little boy in the back seat –
What had we done?
Maya was screaming in my ear, tugging my arm. I’d been tuning her out, but now I understood. We ran.
I heard a diesel engine roar round the bend in the road as we hit the woods. Fate wasn’t completely unforgiving. And we were close to home. When we reached the halfway point between our houses, Maya and I parted ways with a look that said no words need be exchanged.
At home, I took the longest shower of my life. My heart wouldn’t slow. I couldn’t bring my thoughts under control. What vindictive bit of karma had brought the hammer down? Vehicular manslaughter was bad enough. Why did it have to be her husband? An obvious motive.
The kid dead too? I was looking at life in a ten-by-ten cell. What life? My life was over. My career. All because Maya had to get her way. She had to have everything. The perfect family. The doting lover.
God, what kind of person was I? Selfish. Selfish. Her kid, Caden. He was only four. I wanted kids someday. I always said I didn’t, but it was capital B. S. Maya had taken away my chance.
No, I had. Because no matter what happened, I would do what she asked. My choice, but I’d never make another.
What was her idiot husband doing dragging the kid out that late anyway?
I hear a knock at the door and hide in the closet. I’m such a sorry excuse for a human being. Run from the accident. Hide in the closet. A real hero, I am. The barely detectable trembling starts in my hands and migrates across my body. Yes, sir. Adrenaline. I’ll have another, please.
Click. Someone’s got a key. I hear my name and slink farther back in the closet. Then there are footsteps. A gasp. Words of denial.
It’s the slap that lures me out of my hiding place. I peer across the room. I see who’s there and it all comes back to me like a twenty-pound bag of ice full-force to the cheek.
Maya making a call with a phone that wasn’t hers. Maya pilfering keys from inside a gas tank lid. Maya holding the steering wheel with one hand and checking some GPS app on her phone with the other. Maya swerving into a pair of oncoming headlights.
Maya here in my bedroom.
“You stupid bastard, Deter,” she says. “There wasn’t any evidence. We would have been fine. We would’ve been free.” She takes out her phone, places a finger over it. She’s about to dial when she looks back down. Then I see what I’ve been waiting for. I see her break.
Her screeches are more like a tantrum than wails of mourning. She drops herself down on the bed, and the crying subsides. When she composes herself, she holds up her phone again and dials.
“Yes,” she says, “I need to report a suicide.”
As I look into the eyes of my corpse, I remember the confession I left in my back pocket. I’ve finally won. Finally, Maya hasn’t gotten everything she wanted. And she’s wrong.
Only in death would I truly be free.