Last night I was in the mood to write dark fiction. Or, rather, fiction with dark undertones. Here's what I came up with. It's a first draft and is not autobiographical. Except that, yes, I am a little tired of laundry.
Also, it's only partially done.
"Jesus Christ," Tamara said, glancing out her kitchen window at the lawn next door. "What'd you put on that grass? Nitro green dye?"
"It's just fertilizer," Craig said, shrugging. "Expensive, amazing fertilizer. I ordered it online."
"Of course you did." Tamara went back to folding laundry from a plastic basket heaped with clean clothes. She looked at the spots on Caitlyn's pink dress, the one she needed for Mother's Day Brunch that coming Sunday. Tamara would give her left fucking arm if she could wash a load and get every piece of laundry clean the first time.
"It kind of puts yours to shame," Craig said, sipping from his coffee and tapping his nails on the table. His nails were too long for a man's, in Tamara's opinion. But, whatever, he wasn't her husband.
He was just visiting, like he often did on weekday mornings, while the kids played in one of the bedrooms. He worked from home, blogging for several sports sites. He spent more time shopping online and sitting around her house than he did writing though.
Tamara said, "You know what your lawn is like? It's the equivalent of someone who over-whitens his teeth. Then looks ridiculous for trying too hard."
"It's impossible to over-whiten anymore," Craig said. "The whitest, or in this case, the greenest, wins."
A crash reverberated from Caitlyn's room. Tamara waited for the screech, the call, the toddler rushing out with mouth wide open and tears streaming down her face. But she heard only happy whoops.
Tamara exhaled and snapped out a pair of men's work pants. The smell of Cheer was cloying, sickening. She would buy scent-free detergent the next time she was at the store.
"Okay, Craig," she said. "You win." Then she asked, "When does Deb get back from Minnesota?"
His wife traveled constantly. To the midwest, the East Coast, sometimes overseas. It didn't seem to bother Craig much.
"Friday night," he said. His eyes darted in Tamara's direction, then locked back onto his glowing lawn.
She caught his glance. She pursed her lips. What they had was over. It'd been over for months. And he knew it. Never again would Tamara tiptoe across their conjoined yards while their respective spouses were out of town. Never again would she allow those long nails to rake across her naked back.
Yeah. Craig had some good qualities Dave didn't. But he was just a man. Just a disgusting human with gas and zits and bad morning breath.
Tamara's face dropped to the shirt she was holding. That fake-perfumey scent again. Why did Procter & Gamble think the world needed to be ensconced in chemicals that smelled vaguely floral?
Probably because women like Tamara bitched about gas and bad breath.
She felt acid crawling up her esophagus and into her throat and realized that, in her haste to down three cups of strong coffee, she'd forgotten to eat breakfast.
Abandoning her laundry, she went to the cupboard and poured a bowl of bran flakes. It was then that her three kids and Craig's two, all under the age of six, careened into the kitchen and began begging for Pop Tarts. They bounced, whined, negotiated. Pop tarts! Pop tarts! Pop tarts!
Tamara, one hand on her hip and one on her forehead, began to cry...