“Come on, Randy, what did you expect me to do? Pretend to be the happy housewife?” I stepped behind the coffee table as he approached.
“So what are you saying?” He came closer and leaned over the table. “That you were never happy, huh?”
I put my hands up. “No, it’s just-”
“Just what? Am I not good enough for you?”
“No! Just let me finish!” I stumbled and landed on the couch as he closed the gap between us. “Listen, it’s just that lately I’ve felt… like I’m always walking on eggshells.”
He sank on the couch beside me, wrapping his arm around my shoulders. Randy pulled me in close and kissed my hair.
“It doesn’t have to feel that way. As long as you do what I say, Annabelle. Then life will be easier.”
“Do what you say?” I slid away and stood. “You’re saying you control me?”
Randy smiled and fiddled with the ring on his finger. “That’s what this means. You’re my wife, and you’re going to act like it.”
“I’m your wife, not your possession.” I slipped my ring off, clenching it in my fist. “This is a bond, not a chain. And if being your wife means being your object, then this means nothing.”
I dropped the ring on the table, and it clanged on the hardwood, bouncing off onto the floor at his feet. He plucked it from the carpet, rising to his feet.
“So that’s it? You’ve decided you want out?” He rounded the table and towered over me. “You’re gonna leave me?”
I placed my hands on his chest and took a step back, giving myself room to breathe. I took one more, letting my hands fall as he glared.
“If all I’m going to be is your prize, then I can’t be your wife.” I turned my back to him and started toward the door. “Goodbye, Randall.”
At first, I heard his footsteps retreat, and my shoulders relaxed. I closed in on the exit as Randy shuffled in the kitchen.
I am free.
The air chilled as the ground shook with each of his steps. Before I could turn, his arms coiled around me.
“‘Til death do us part, Belle.”
I gasped as the blade sliced into my neck. His weight brought me to the floor as ragged, choking breaths escaped. I clamped my hand over my throat as blood streamed from the fresh wound. Randy ripped my hand away and clenched it in his own, bringing the bloodied knife above us.
I squeezed my eyes shut as I choked, but no second searing slash ever came. Instead, I heard a faint grunt followed by choking gulps of air. My eyes fluttered open and landed on his faltering grin as the knife jutted from his chest. His iron vice stiffened as his chest rose and fell.
“‘Til death do us part.”