Thanks to all who answered the riddle for the contest to win a signed copy of BRIGHT SHINY MORNING.
Since many entries were quite creative and fun to read, we decided not only to pick a randomly drawn winner, but also to reward the most creative response.
Thus and sans further ado – the winner of the random drawing is…
DENISE COLE (of the Rainbow)
And winner for Most Creative Entry is…
BRIAN STILLMAN (whose submission appears below)
Denise and Brian, we will be contacting you shortly via email to arrange to get your books out to you. Thanks again to all for entering, and have a bright shiny day.
A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over five minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But five minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?
The news warned everyone to stay indoors. She didn’t want to believe the news. Then the station turned to snow. It turned out all of them were blizzards by then.
Not long after that the wife went out to find her missing husband.
She walked the two miles and found him at the park and ride exactly where she’d last seen him yesterday afternoon. He’d said not to worry and told her to take the car, but she’d said she needed the exercise.
Some of his face was gone. He looked like the news said they’d look. The news anchor – the one that laughed like he wasn’t quite right anymore just before the signal died – had been right. After the change the victims looked just like something from a Romero movie.
The husband lurched toward the wife. She produced the pistol they kept upstairs. The just in case pistol. He didn’t recognize his name. His hands were dry but they were the same color as those parts of his face she didn’t want to look at. He didn’t recognize his name or the word stop and he didn’t notice a single one of the shots that punched through his torso. The shirt was already bloody, not that he was noticing that either.
She walked ahead of his shambling, walked back toward their home. She didn’t have to run. He’d always had that bad knee.
Their street was quiet, quiet as when she’d set out in the morning. She noticed things, noticed there were tire tracks on one lawn. Someone’s chimes rung. She stopped up at sight of the kiddie pool.
Little neon colored ducks wound around the side of the pool. Blades of grass and dropped snack time cheese doodles floated on the pool surface. The tiny pool goers had waved at them as they drove by on Sunday. Sunday. A very long time ago.
The wife walked away from the pool and sat down on the house’s porch step. She sat half folded over, top half sunk into her thighs and she shook like a mechanism had caught and the right quiver would set it off and then she’d finish folding over and start folding inside out.
Her husband walked towards her. Shambled. Shambling, he stepped up against the kiddie pool and fell forward into the water.
The wife watched the struggle. He couldn’t quite figure out how to get up. Water leaked out as he threw what looked like a fake, laughter seeking fit. If she were anyone else maybe a week ago she might’ve laughed.
She wiped her face and wiped her hands on her pants. She stood, walked to the pool, knelt and pushed down on her husband’s head for what felt like hours. No one complained about her screaming once she started.
When the moon came up, the husband remained face down in the pool, but no longer thrashed. Occasionally a bubble would emerge from the lunar illuminated depths and bloop apart upon the pool surface.
Sometime before dawn the wife rolled the husband out of the pool, pushed him up to a sitting position, shoved a towel in his moaning face, worked the towel briskly, snipped a swathe of duct tape off the roll she’d brought from the garage, and swatted away his dumb intrigued hands long enough to press the duct tape over his mouth.
She helped him to his feet. She swatted his hands away long enough to pluck a blade of grass from off his wet sop of hair. She left the roll of duct tape and the scissors on the lawn and she led him home.
The noose hung off the beam in the room reserved for their occasional guests. The noose hung directly over a chair slid over from the desk set under the window. The second chair she’d dragged in from the study.
The husband watched from the doorway, reserving judgment. He was always slow to warm to something new.
The wife stepped up onto the desk chair, the top of her head brushing the noose, and then stepped over onto the chair from the study, nudged flush against its neighbor. She coaxed the husband forward. He grunted, sounding reluctant behind the duct tape. He kept tugging at the duct tape, but couldn’t manage to pinch hold of the creased over ends. He grunted like maybe the tape adhesive hurt the way he’d sometimes groan when she’d cut his hair.
She had to step up onto the chairs repeatedly. A dozen times. A thousand. She was screaming at him towards the end. That’s why she didn’t want kids. Her patience had limits. Enough for him, but no one else. Finally though, he followed her up and when he made it up she helped steady him. The door was behind him and he faced the back wall, but it didn’t matter where he looked, not for the task at hand.
Soon as the loop was in place and the slack in the rope had been taken up, she jumped down and shoved the desk chair toward the window. Shoved it just as far as needed.
She walked past her husband, walked under the beam, and walked toward the hall. She moved stiffly like someone trying to finish a chore before peeing their pants. On exiting she reached for the guest room doorknob, but missed. She didn’t bother a second attempt.
Every so often as she sat on the edge of their bed, hugging herself, rocking, she could hear sound from the guest room – the beam or was it the rope adjusting to the weight.
This was no longer a life where the wife would find time or find it convenient to adjust. She knew her job was not going to take her mind off of losing her spouse. Job. She didn’t have a job. Who had jobs now? With her husband, the new status quo would be rough, but it might eventually become bearable. Without him…Well she already was without him now wasn’t she?
When she walked back into the guest room her husband swung in soggy orbit just to the side and above the chair from the study.
He was still trying to tug the duct tape off his mouth.
After she hacked all the way through the rope, but before they found their way downstairs and outside onto the street together, she kissed him on the mouth, over the duct tape, and she said she loved him very much. She said his name, most of it, before the sob broke the second syllable apart. Then she tore the duct tape off and kissed him and herself goodbye.
– by Brian Stillman