She watched as he ran his fingers along the blade

It had been his idea to move to the country.

‘Fresh air,’ he said. ‘Good for the kids.’

She’d resisted initially, disliking the idea of leaving friends behind. Also, ‘What about our jobs?’ she asked. ‘How will we live?’

‘Cheap in the country.’ He grinned, full of confidence. ‘We’ll grow our own food. What we get for this place-‘ he waved a hand at the not-so-long ago refurbished kitchen ‘-will more than pay for a country cottage and a year to get settled.’

basket of fresh fruit and veg

‘We can’t come back if it doesn’t work,’ she said. The thought was mildly terrifying, but exciting too. A dash for freedom.

Perhaps a new project, the energy it would require, would improve his fluctuating moods. She could hope.

‘Humph.’ He scowled. ‘Who said anything about coming back?’

So here they were, six months in. The property was small, with enough of it to grow veg, run a few chickens, have a goat. The house was a renovator’s delight, and he spent time tarting up bits and pieces, dealing with poor plumbing, learning from YouTube, swearing when it didn’t work. Learning that the heating ‘wouldn’t be up to it’ until they could afford a new system sent shivers down her spine despite the July sunshine. She spent time monitoring the outflow of money which took longer than monitoring the inflow, of which there was none.

The kids loved it.

Eight months in, his mood fluctuations returned. He became increasingly morose.

She questioned him. ‘Are you unhappy we did this?’

And he growled. ‘Unhappy? There’s unhappy and unhappy.’ And slipped outside to tend to yet another task, leaving her bemused and ill at ease.

His mood darkened. She needed him to talk to her – about the bills piling up, about the need to stack wood for winter for some chance of warmth, about the apples lying rotting on the ground no matter how fast she made jellies and purees, about how some of the hens had ceased laying and why were they still feeding them? About it all.

He closed himself off, grunted responses, snapped at the kids, who fled outside to feed the hens and stroke their silky feathers for comfort.

And now, this morning, she found him in the yard. She watched as he ran his fingers along the blade, testing its sharpness.

Her heart faltered. Her head swum with all those horror stories of depressed men on isolated farms … She looked about, frantic. Where were the kids?

He glanced at her, gave her his habitual scowl. She took a step backward.

‘Can’t be doing with it anymore,’ he muttered. ‘Put it off too long.’ He hefted the axe. ‘Time to kill the first chicken.’

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1 thought on “She watched as he ran his fingers along the blade”

  1. Tension build up is terrific. Love the twist at the end.

    My somewhat macabre contribution:


    She watched as he ran his fingers along the blade.
    It was a new knife, one that she had purchased at a local homeware store, and he wanted to make sure it would be sharp enough to do the job for which it was intended.
    “Yep,” he said. “If you can’t cut substantial sides of meat with this, I don’t know what will.”
    Shirley heaved a sigh of relief. Good. She had chosen well. No point in telling Brad what she really needed the knife for – he would probably divorce her on the spot.
    She picked up the knife once more. It was a heavy instrument, but not so cumbersome that she couldn’t manage it on her own.
    “I bought a side of beef the other day,” she informed Brad. “Now, all I have to do is cut it into steaks and freeze them so we can steadily consume them over the next month or so.”
    “Ok,” he replied. “Well, I’ll leave you to get started. I’ve got plenty of other things to do around the house.”
    Shirley dragged the meat from the fridge and began slicing. The knife felt like it was cutting butter and she soon had a couple of dozen good size steaks laying before her on the large chopping board.
    Each one she carefully wrapped in a plastic bag and placed in the freezer, leaving only a couple for the evening meal.
    She was busy cleaning the knife when the powerful image returned, once more overwhelming her senses.
    Head in hands, Shirley felt a kitchen chair beneath her legs saving her from collapsing.
    No. It wasn’t possible. How could this ghastly face keep haunting her daily consciousness. It couldn’t be a nightmare. After all, she was wide awake.
    Ghoul-like, the painted face with blazing, penetrating black eyes, leered and cackled crazily, filthy taunts spewing from its mouth.
    Shirley was convinced it must be real, but had been unable to tell her husband for fear he might think her insane. It appeared to be standing right in front of her – so close she could smell its foul breath.
    Shirley reached for the new knife and blindly struck out, meeting something solid but yielding.
    She opened her eyes to find her kindly neighbour Gail Wilson lying on the floor, blood spilling rapidly from a deep chest wound.
    “My God. My God, what have I done,” she screamed, as her dreadful apparition continued taunting – all the while performing its deathly, crazy dance.

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