“Daddy!!” His youngest, four year old Anneliese, ran toward Jayce with her outstretched arms and her unconditional love. He swooped her up and planted a plethora of kisses all over her beaming face.
As he put her down, she took his hand and led him to the breakfast table. Before Jayce took a seat, his eldest, Dawson, pushed his chair away from the table and got up and walked away, without a syllable uttered. His contempt sat thick in the air.
Jayce’s beautiful wife Kendra looked her husband in the eyes and smiled, then glanced away.
“How are you, honey?” Jayce asked patiently.
She let out a small sigh, cleared her throat and replied with, “I’m okay, Jayce. How are you?”
There was neither interest nor warmth in her words. Everything was fake. Like clock work. And everybody knew it, save little Anneliese.
“Ugh I’m tired, so tired. Been working around the clock on that Hudson account. Longest 24 hours of my life. I missed you, and I missed my little Annie”. With these words, he tickled his daughter until tears of joy streamed down her elated face.
Kendra smiled at her husband. It was the kind of smile that was pregnant with doubt and heartache. She excused herself and made her way to the bathroom down the hall, her cell as she called it, where she spent a lot of her time when her husband was home.
She locked the door and slunk to the cold tile, clutching her mouth in her attempt at muffling her sobs. The mascara ran down her sullen face as wave after wave of anger and sadness washed over her. She felt so removed, so alone, so neglected.
Jayce knocked on the door. “Honey, I’m going to lay down for a much needed nap. Annie is watching cartoons. Love you.”
She waited until she heard the closing of their bedroom door before pulling herself up. With handfuls of tissues dabbing at her face, she reached for a little bottle of white pills. Dumping what seemed like half the contents into her hand, she washed them down with a long swig from a whisky mickey, hidden under the sink.
Moments later, Kendra ever so quietly entered their bedroom and closed the door behind her. She slowly approached her side of the bed and from the top drawer of her night table, she withdrew a sharpened butcher knife.
Clutched in her right hand, the blade pointing down and her hand remaining by her side, she tiptoed to the opposite side of the bed, the side where her sleeping husband was lain. She stood there, watching his chest rise then lower. His mouth was slightly open, and his right arm twitched.
Her heart raced. Sweat pooled in her eyebrows. She began to shake. She felt overcome with something she’d never known before….