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Free Flash Fiction:

Sweet Tea

By: Jae El Foster

April 7, 2019

Supper was ready, and as she plated it, she knew one of two things was about to happen. Option A: Brian would hate the meal and beat Sharon senseless over it, like he did most nights. Option B: The food would be satisfactory, and Brian would only yell and scream at her instead of beating her.

Sharon was a broken down, physically and emotionally destroyed woman of thirty-seven. Brian had been her husband for twenty years, and he’d been her boyfriend before that. Even then, he’d been cruel to her, and he had long ago convinced her that no one else could ever love her but him. As far as love went, she had at one point loved him, but now, she hated him almost as much as she hated herself. As little a person as she was, she knew that without Brian, she would be nothing.

He’d told her that himself.

No one wanted to be with a plain, beaten down woman with no career skills and four miscarriages under her belt.

That was why tonight, as she stirred a white powder into one of the sweet tea glasses, she was going to kill herself. The poison would only take a minute or two to take effect, and even though she assumed it would be a painful death, she didn’t mind. While she couldn’t live without Brian, she would not live with him any longer.

Sharon carried the glasses to the table and set one at her place setting and one at Brian’s. She averted her eyes from her husband’s eyes as he watched her from his seat. He was smiling. She hated it when he smiled.

Returning to the kitchen, she took two plates of food – one heaping for Brian and one minimal for her. She’d never had much of an appetite before. She didn’t know why her final meal should have been any different. In the dining room, she set Brian’s meal in front of him and carried hers to her seat.

Brian was still smiling, staring her down. It made her blood run cold.

As with all dinners in this household, Sharon never ate until Brian ate. She never drank until he took his first sip. She was anxious for her elixir, but she had to continue on as if this was any other day. As if she wasn’t yearning to chug her poisoned sweet tea.

Finally, Brian looked from her to his plate, and lifted a forkful of mashed potatoes to his lips. As he ate, he moaned in exaggerated delight.

“Is it okay?” Sharon asked him with a timid tone to her voice.

“Best mashed potatoes you’ve made yet.” He was staring at her again. She felt her fear of him surfacing. “The sweet tea looks good too. Is the tea good?”

“I made it just how you like it,” she told him flatly.

“I bet you did.” With a smirk, he took his glass, lifted it in a cheers sort of way, and took a swig.

Finally, Sharon thought, reaching for her glass. Now, she could drink and die.

As she sipped heavily from her glass, she heard Brian laughing at her. He slapped his hand against the table, shaking everything atop it. Midway through her tea, Sharon stopped and looked at her husband.

“You thought you had me, didn’t you?” he asked her, taking another deep swig of his tea. “You thought you could pull one over on me.”

“What are you talking about?” Sharon replied, setting her glass down in front of her.

“Don’t think I didn’t see what you were doing in there,” Brian told her, finishing his glass of tea and then throwing the glass to the wall, letting it shatter. Sharon nearly jumped out of her skin. “I saw you alright. Putting poison in that tea.”

Sharon swallowed and lowered her eyes. Now that he knew she was trying to kill herself, she imagined he would help her finish the job.

“But I wasn’t born yesterday, Sharon,” Brian continued, standing from his seat. “You see, when you went back in for the plates, I switched our glasses.”

With sharpness, Sharon looked at him again.

“That’s right. I took your glass and I gave you mine.” He walked up to her, still smiling. She thought he looked like he was starting to sweat. “I gave you the poison, Sharon.”

Sharon didn’t know how to respond. Brian was about to say something else, but she watched the color drain from his face and heard his stomach gurgle instead.

“I wasn’t trying to kill you,” she finally told him as he dropped to his knees. He was beginning to bleed from his nose and the inner corners of his eyes. “I was trying to kill me!”

Sharon watched her husband as he once again opened his mouth to speak. Instead, he spewed out yellow, mucus-filled foam and a bit more blood. Then, he gripped his chest and his eyes rolled back in his head. The next instant, he tumbled backward onto the floor, where he was dead when his head hit the ground.

At first she was stunned, but then Sharon became angry. She stood from her chair and stepped to her fallen husband, kicking him hard in the side. “You selfish jerk!” she told him, yelling at him for the first time ever. “That was my poison! Mine!” She kicked him again and then once more. “Mine! Mine! Mine!” Through this screaming and kicking, she finally released a rage within her that she’d unknowingly built up for many years, and through that rage, she began to punch Brian and slap him, to claw at him and dig into him, and eventually, she began to rip him apart – a lot more quickly than it took him to rip her apart.


Copyright Jae El Foster, 2019