Three is a Crowd

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Mellow light streamed into the room from the latticed window as I woke up. I felt a lightness and joy I hadn’t felt for the past fifteen years.

I hummed a little tune as I put a kettle on the hob. By the time the kettle started singing a few minutes later, I had breakfast ready.

I poured the tea in a dainty china teapot, painted with English roses, the one Susan would never let me touch.

“It’s a gift from my dead mother. You’ll just break it.” 

“Don’t take out that dinner service. You’ll drop something and ruin the set.”

“Don’t put your feet up on the table. It’s an antique. You will scratch it.”

Life with Susan had been a series of don’ts. Now I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. 

**********************

Marrying Susan had been a dream come true. Me, a simple farmer and she the daughter of the manor from which I leased the little plot of land I farmed! Some people had accused me of being ambitious when the news broke. The rumours made me laugh. Love, not ambition was the reason behind this leap of class. 

The dream had been shattered by the barbs of reality soon enough. Susan had proved a veritable virago, her tongue sharp enough to flay my soul and bring out the devil lurking under, just as a paring knife peels fruit and leaves it naked. My inability to make ends meet through honest tilling of the soil might have had some hand in the change in her demeanour. The felicity in the marriage soon bowed before the bickerings and bid goodbye, leaving behind two embittered human beings bound together not by love but worldly laws. 

For fifteen years, I listened to her acrimonious admonitions. Her venomous words coated in scathing contempt, finally drove me to look for love outside of the manor house where we had taken up residence after our marriage. The village was no stranger to the caustic tongue of my wife. There were more than a few ladies who pitied me and were ready to become the second Mrs. Angus Whittaker. I wasn’t a fool though. A bit of fun on the side was alright but I wasn’t going to throw up the property that came with Susan.

Then one day I met the charming Mrs. Babbage, the nurse at the Cottage Hospital. She was a widow, buxom and beautiful, with a penchant for the bad boys and man, did she fall for me! How else could I explain the ideas she put into my head, whispered lovingly into my ears, and leaving a mark onto my soul? Ideas that gave me the courage to become the devil Susan had awakened with her constant curses.

It was easy. I spread the rumour in the village that Susan was suffering from a weak heart. It was true, albeit for me. But rumours are like birdsong, welcome into every ear. Who cared if it was Mr. or Mrs Whittaker.

The rumour soon grew into belief. The rest was accomplished by the soft fluffy pillow embroidered with blue forget-me-nots, her favourite, in the dead of night a fortnight earlier. She didn’t struggle much. It was almost as if she had turned all her life force into that tongue of hers, now forever silenced.

*******************

I arranged the tray containing the teapot and the matching cups and saucers on the table. I put toast and cookies, the one she baked at Christmas but never let me have, into the plates from her favourite dinner set. I had sneaked Alice, Mrs Babbage, into the house yesterday and after a memorable night, planned to make her morning memorable by surprising her with breakfast in bed. 

Memorable! That is the word for the night all right. Alice knows things even I didn’t know and I am no blushing schoolboy. There is a nagging sensation that I am forgetting something about the night, but I push it to the back of my mind. A voice broke into my thoughts.

“The Rose tea set? And haven’t I told you not to put more than half a teaspoon of butter on your toast?”

I almost dropped the teapot in astonishment.

This cannot be. She is…

“Dead. I know. Did you think that gives you the licence to be cavalier with my things? Take care of that teapot.”

Then I saw her. A shadow in the corner by her settee, where she used to sit and watch my every move like a venomous spider readying for the kill.

“I smothered you. I saw your coffin buried into the soil with my own eyes. How can you be back?” I stammered, all thoughts of surprising Alice gone from my mind, like chickens leaving their coop early morning. 

“Did you think I was going to lie six feet under and watch you have fun with that hussy in my house and my bed? I am sure she is the one who gave you the idea. On your own, you were good for nothing. Listening to my taunts and living on my money for fifteen years.” I winced. Death hadn’t affected her tart tongue at all.

“I’m not going to leave you to that buxom bitch. I’m your wife and will be forever. You need looking after,” She slyly replied.

“You’re dead.” I sputtered, paling at the prospect of a life with each moment haunted by her.

“And so are you, my love, ” she smiled. “One manifestation was all it took.” 

I remembered it then. My terror at her spectre floating above me in the night, and the pain as my overworked heart stopped and life fled. I ran to the bed to find Alice sleeping peacefully amidst the jumbled up covers and my body lying beside her, irrevocably dead. “What about her?” I croaked.

“I’ll let her be. I did think of scaring her to death, but three is such a crowd.” 

******

Photo Credits: Pexels

This is an entry for the event #Supernatural #UniK-7 being held at Writers Room | Room8.

Read the event guidelines here: UniK-7 event guidelines

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