The last house in the neighborhood had turned off its lights hours ago. The neighborhood parents had tucked the young ones into bed, and the children dreamed and rested up for another day of learning and life. The world was quiet—the sort of silence that surrounds and consumes. The crickets that had once serenaded the world during the summer had long since vanished. It was November now. Everything was dying.
While the world slept, Sadie sat in the lonely living room armchair, knees pulled up to her chest, arms hanging over each side. She let the bloody hammer slip from her fingers and fall to the floor—the noise was a stranger to the night’s peacefulness. Sadie sucked in her breath and closed her eyes. It was all finally over.
She left the hammer where it lay and shuffled to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of whiskey. Her hands shook as she retrieved a glass from the cupboard and prepared to pour the drink. On second thought, she put the glass aside and drank deeply from the bottle instead. It burned as it went down, but she did not seem to notice—her nerves were too shot. Bottle in hand, Sadie walked out onto the back porch to sit in the cool autumn air. Tomorrow this would be all over the news and she would be hauled away in handcuffs. But tonight there was time for one last drink.
Sadie took a seat on the concrete steps and looked up at the heavens above. The sky was cloudless and clear—a perfect night to see the stars one last time. A cool, nightly breeze brushed her skin, and so she took another sip of the whiskey. It warmed her insides like a friendly hug—and after all these years she did suppose that it had been her only faithful friend. It never judged her or guilted her over her decisions. It had always been there, and this time was no different.
The stars in the sky began to dance as she felt the effects of her liquid friend begin to fill her brain. It must have been barely over freezing outside, but she felt so very warm. Everything was dying, but the cold couldn’t catch her.
The children must have been warm, she thought to herself, remembering how she had left them in their beds. That must have been nice. Everyone deserves to be warm.
She thought about what the neighbors would say when the police showed up to her door and escorted her from the premises. She imagined their wagging tongues gossiping behind covered mouths and closed doors as they watched her be carted away. Would they even be able to guess what she had done? No, they wouldn’t, Sadie decided with a crooked grin as she took another sip. The neighbors would find out when it hit the papers and the 6 o’clock news just like everybody else. Sadie could almost hear them now—they would claim that she had always seemed a little odd, even though they had casually waved to her on the sidewalk the day before. They waved to her because she looked like one of them on the outside—they knew nothing of what she felt on the inside. They would go on and on about the poor loss of innocent life. They would claim to be her closest friends in exchange for a dance in the limelight.
Friends. Sadie scoffed. They never saw her pain or thought about how tiresome it was to be a single mother raising two children under eight and working a 50-hour work week. They waved to her on the sidewalk because that’s all that they were obligated to do. They never offered to make a casserole or clean the house or take the children for a night. Nobody lifted a finger to help. But if they wanted their 15 minutes of fame, let them have it. It wasn’t anything that Sadie had to worry about anymore.
There were a lot of things that Sadie wouldn’t have to worry about anymore.
She ran her fingers through her sandy blonde hair. Sadie was tired. So very tired. She hoped people would understand. She tried to be a good mother, honestly she did. But it was all just too much. She finished off the whiskey and sat the empty glass bottle down on the concrete steps. Sadie did not know the exact time, but she knew that it was hours after midnight. Before long, the sun would rise and warm up the earth and bring everything back to life. The neighborhood would wake up, the parents would go off to work, and the children would board the bus and be off for another day of school. She supposed she should call the police before it came. Until then, she was content to sit and see the sun rise, one last time.
Everything else could wait.
Nikole Darnell is a 2017 graduate of Ball State University where she graduated Cum Laude with a major in English and concentration in Creative Writing. She is currently the editor of The Validation and former lead prose editor of The Broken Plate.