The Tornado

This one’s based on a first sentence prompt. One of the places mentioned in the story is the Whiteshell, which is a massive provincial park in Manitoba, Canada. There’s lots of nice camping and many people have cottages there too. Tornadoes in general are a rare thing in Manitoba (they happen, but there’s a lot of uninhabited wilderness), but I remember one day reading that one passed through cottage country. It gave me an idea, and this prompt was what finally turned it into a story. Enjoy!

The Tornado

Jeremy was dead. Kathleen let out a ragged whimper and slid to the cold kitchen floor. Her legs had given out and her arms fell to her sides. Even the pistol was suddenly too heavy and she set it down beside her. Her left eye was swelling shut and she could taste blood in her mouth. There was a new hole, too, where just this morning there had been a tooth.

And on the opposite end of the kitchen, by the old yellow fridge, there lay Jeremy. His eyes were half lidded and his mouth hung slack. His left hand–the one with his Rolex–lay on his chest, limp and covering the hole the bullet had punched through his heart. His right hand lay on the ground where his blood was pooling. Kathleen could actually see the blood spreading, little red tides pushing farther and farther from the well.

It would reach her foot soon. She had lost her right flip-flop somewhere, probably in the fight, and she didn’t want the blood to touch her. But, she wouldn’t move. Not yet. For now, Kathleen just sat as she did, with her back to the cupboards under the sink, and she breathed. She breathed and she cried.

It was finally over.

Outside the storm was subsiding too. She could still hear the wind but it was distant now, and she couldn’t believe how much light was spilling in through the windows. Just half an hour ago it was nearly black as night. Who ever heard of a tornado hitting the Whiteshell anyway? The realtor failed to mention that possibility when Kathleen and Jeremy had bought the place.

She got on her knees and then climbed to her feet with a groan. Her legs were weak and she had to support herself with the kitchen counter.

“Fuck,” she hissed when she almost fell. Then she looked at Jeremy again, still laying as he had fallen. “Fuck you, Jeremy.”

Her words were muffled and it hurt her to talk. Kathleen brought her hand up to her face and she felt that not just her eye had swollen. Her cheek was puffy too and she could barely stand poking at it with her finger. Now that she thought about it, her ribs were sore too. Jeremy was a big guy, and though he wasn’t any kind of athlete he had worked out. He could swing those hams with some real force.

Kathleen looked around the kitchen. There was a mess of plates and food on the floor, but that was due to the fight. The tornado, thankfully, had passed them by. Just by, judging by the terrible keening wind. She glanced outside and saw scattered branches and trash all over the field, and a few downed trees further on. She turned back to the kitchen.

What was she supposed to do now?

Call the police, probably. Or maybe straight to emergency? A shooting death was probably beyond Officer Friendly.

Instead she sat down at the kitchen table and took a cigarette out of the pack. The closest police station was some twenty minutes down the highway, and they’d probably have their hands full with the tornado fallout anyway. And did she really need to call them? Well, yes, of course, but it wasn’t really pressing. She was safe, and Jeremy was dead. No amount of police tape and ambulances would change anything now.

She lit the cigarette, took a shallow drag, and then started coughing as pain spasmed through her chest.

“Dammit,” she hissed again, holding her side. It hurt to breathe. “You really did a fucking number on me, asshole.”

She glared at him, at his dead open eyes staring at nothing, and tried her cigarette again. Neither the police nor the ambulance could change anything now, so it was probably best to hold off and collect her thoughts. After all, she had killed a man–her husband at that–and the cops would have questions.

Kathleen went over the details of the fight in her mind. Jeremy had been angry all that morning, and he had hit her a couple of times. Sure he did, the evidence was all over her aching body. And maybe she had gotten in a few scratches of her own–who could blame her? Then he had pointed the gun at her, and that’s when the tornado hit.

It distracted him, and that’s when she hit him with the frying pan. No, little Kathleen could never knock big ol’ Jeremy out, but it did stun him long enough for her to get the gun.

And what happened then?

Well, Kathleen wasn’t too sure, her memory was hazy after all, but she supposed she must have shot him. Him or me, she’d say, and they would believe her because it was true. A man did not crack his wife’s ribs and break her face if he meant to let her live.

But, they’d want to know why. Why would he do this? As far as everybody knew, they had been happily married for three years. Well, Kathleen would tell them what caused it, what was at the core of their problems.

Adultery.

The three years of marriage had started out well enough, but they had quickly grown cool and boring. Husband and wife drifted apart.

She’d tell them she confronted him, and that’s what set him off.

She ashed the cigarette and lit up another. Then she smoked it and sat perfectly still, for even the slightest movements hurt. Well, maybe an ambulance wouldn’t help him, but it might help her.

She ashed the second cigarette. It was time to make the call. Her story was clear in her mind, and it was high time the rest of the world knew the truth about Jeremy, her psychopath husband.

She stood up, groaning, and walked across the kitchen–and through the congealing blood–to the wall phone.

She would call them. She would tell them her story, and they would believe it, and then she’d finally be free of him. The nightmare was over.

She’d tell them everything that they wanted to know, but of course she’d forget some details. It had been an emotional day, after all.

She’d forget that she was the one who dragged him out to the cottage.

She’d forget that she was the bored one, the one sleeping around.

She’d forget that he confronted her about it.

And she’d definitely forget that she had packed the gun and pulled it on him. She’d forget that he only hit her to save himself and to take the gun, and that he begged her to stop and to calm down, because he loved her and didn’t want to hurt her and blah blah blah.

Thank God for tornadoes.