“What do you mean you’re cutting me off!?”
An outraged roar echoed through the living room as a man hastily jumped to his feet. He was either so absorbed in his anger that he did not notice, or so absorbed in his anger that he did not care, but as he rose, he had knocked over a photo of a man offering a elegant golden band to a woman overwhelmed with joyful tears, causing a jagged crack to abruptly split the couple apart.
Jacqueline cautiously placed her delicate hand over his, and he could feel her hand trembling like a sole leaf in a hurricane of horror.
“Kale, sweetheart, I know how hard it will be to quit, but we can’t afford to keep doing this anymore. If you’ll just consider rehab, I know that‒‒”
Kale let out a cacophonous wail as her forcibly thrusted Jacqueline away from him, not even sparing a second glance as she let out a yelp of pain.
“No, no! You can’t do this to me, Jacqueline! You can’t, you can’t, you can’t!”
His eyes, filled with the hysterics of addiction and outlined with the dark rings of insomnia, captured hers as her seized her by her shoulders and hauled her to her feet.
“Honey, baby, you can’t do this to me!”
“Kale, you’re hurting me. Please stop.”
“Please, baby, don’t do this to me! You can’t do this to me.”
Kale’s unrelenting pleads consisting of the words “Can’t,” “Don’t,” and “Baby” slurred together in a dissonance of despair as his grip on her loosened somewhat, exposing dark, purple discoloration on her gaunt skin, dubiously in the shape of a handprint.
“Kale…” The discordant uproar was silenced by her words, trailing off with on a tender, harmonious note.
“Kale, we really can’t do this anymore. Look at the state were living in! Shambles of what could have been and still could be a brilliant life. We just need to pick the pieces up together. After all…” She inhaled a breath of courage before continuing. “We want the best for our little Junior, right?”
The silence that hung in the air threatened to suffocate her. Her knees trembled more than before and threatened to collapse under the constant pounding of her heart beat.
Her throat was too parched to respond, so instead she gave a slight nod of her head.
“I don’t understand why that means I have to quit.”
It took a long time before the meaning of his words finally registered in her mind.
“What do you mean you don’t understand?” She croaked, forcing the words through her constricted throat.
“I shouldn’t have to stop smoking just because you’re having a child.”
Something inside of Jacqueline snapped. She wasn’t sure what it was, desperation, hormones, maternal instincts. Maybe a combination of all three. Nevertheless, nothing at that moment could stop the tsunami of thoughts from flooding out of her mouth.
“This isn’t just my child! This is our child; this is your child! Does that not mean anything to you? We should be discussing names or education plans now, not about your addiction! I know you had a rocky start with awful parents, Kale. We both did. But this is a chance to succeed where our parents failed. Don’t you want to give this child an opportunity, a chance?
“Of course I do! But that doesn’t mean—”
“Yes it does, Kale! It means you have to quit! I’m not going to support your habit anymore!”
Kale’s fingers trembled around the trigger of the gun as Jacqueline’s, and her unborn child’s, lifeless body unceremoniously hit the floor. Since the boards were rotten and long since warped, all of her blood pooled into a vicious crimson puddle and they splashed all over his boots as he walked over to the corpse. His fingers still trembled was he searched her person, though it was neither from remorse or despair. They trembled out of relief.
For finally, finally, he would be able to get his fix: eggplant.