The curtains are sheer enough to see their silhouettes but little else. I remember when we picked them out. I only wanted something to cover the large windows but Marla had very specific requirements. They had to go perfectly with the walls and furniture. That’s how she approached every aspect of her life: the perfect accessories to create the perfect image.
I stopped being the perfect accessory a year ago. It took her three months to find my replacement. Her new wife couldn’t be more different from me: tall to my short, fair to my dark, sweet and simple-minded to my direct and intellectual. And, of course, she’s much younger. Our life wasn’t very exciting or perfect after seventeen years. It was time for a change. I only wish I had seen it coming. I could have prepared. Lesson learned. I’m a planner, now.
It’s a cold night but I won’t be here much longer. My spot in the bushes across the street protects me pretty well from the wind and, really, that’s the worst part. The wind and the damp ground that I’m kneeling on seep into my bones. I’ll need to take a long, hot bath when I get home to completely get rid of the chill. Three minutes to show time.
Valentine’s Day was never a big deal for us but I guess the new Mrs. Hughes feels differently. I wonder which one of them had set up the candles and spread the white and red rose petals on the bed in the master suite. I was surprised and, if I’m honest, hurt to think that Marla would have done something so romantic. She was never like that with me. I must not inspire that sort of lust and desire.
I only had a few minutes to get my own surprise set up and check out the rest of the house. Not much had been changed since I moved out. The biggest difference was that all of the photos of me and Marla had been replaced with ones of the new couple. It took an incredible amount of will power not to destroy the large wedding portrait hung over the fireplace in the living room. They do look good together, I’ll give them that.
Their shadows are moving slowly in the flickering light and I imagine there’s a cozy fire burning. As they lean in for a kiss, there’s a flash and a ground-shaking boom. The force of the explosion knocks me onto my behind and I’m momentarily stunned. A few seconds later, neighbors are streaming into the street. As I prepare to escape through the dark yards, I notice a scrap of white against the black ground. As soon as my hand touches it, I know exactly what it is and bring the soft petal to my nose. It still smells sweet. Happy Valentine’s Day, Marla.