“Can you apply for a leave next week for a few days?” She asked hopefully.
“Why?” He answered curtly.
She bit her lip. She never believed their perfect story would end up into mono-syllable conversations. Although, annoyed by his stern reply, she said, “Just like that. It’s that we have been to someplace out of town for a long time. We sure need a break.”
“Hmm… I need to check on my calendar. I will let you know tomorrow.”
Maurice went back to the kitchen, to prepare dinner. They ate quietly, not a single word spoken.
Alan got up to leave the room, when she reminded him, “Do check your calendar”.
He nodded and went to bed.
In the morning, before leaving for work, she left him a note on the table, reminding him to let her know about his plans next week. In the afternoon he sent her a text stating that he could take two days off and that she plans for someplace close by. She began searching for places where they could spend their small holiday. She came across a link that read, “COTTAGES ON RENT... PERFECT DESTINATION FOR SMALL TRIPS… CONTACT US…”
This seems perfect. She thought. It’s even close by. After pondering enough, she clicked on the link and booked a cottage for their stay.
She texted him immediately, that the booking was done and that she was pretty excited about it.
It was a beautiful cottage. The living area had a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling. There were two nicely done rooms. The wall cabinets had fine collection of scotch and wine bottles stacked up.
“Honey! I am going to freshen up, see if you can arrange for something to eat.” She said, tying her hair into a bun.
He returned her a disgusted face and exclaimed, “Where on earth am I going to find food in this barren land!” He scoffed and continued, “This is your amazing trip.” And left.
He came back after sometime with some food he managed to find nearby. He was lost in his thoughts. He was unable to understand why everyone in the shops looked at him with shock. He took out a bottle of fine scotch and lit his cigarette. He closed his eyes and took a deep smoke. The moment he released the smoke, he felt a gush of wind swirling around him. He emptied the glass, ignored the wind and continued smoking. He was guilty of misbehaving. But how wasn’t sure how to make up to his wife who was trying to mend the bonds of their cracked marriage. He decided to apologize the next morning to her. He carried the glass and the bottle of scotch to the other room. He sat on the arm chair and lit another cigarette. He had emptied about half the bottle. Every time he released the smoke, he felt he was seeing himself in the smoke. He thought he might have drank too much. He kept the bottle away. But he kept seeing himself in the smoke.
He rushed to the room, where his wife had locked herself up. Before he could even knock, she opened the door and threw her arms around him.
“Honey I was so scared. I felt I heard a man screaming. So I rushed to check if you were okay.” She was breathing heavily and tried to sink in some air. He held her tight, and said “Love, I am very sorry for what I did earlier in the evening. I promise this won’t be repeated. Let’s go in the room.”
There in the other room was Alan’s smoking charred body resting in the arm chair. The scream wasn’t a lie. But to Maurice’s innocence, she trusted the man who held her in his arms. Or was he a man at all??