He always had chapped lips. It was worse in the winter, when his skin got so dry he feared he’d crack open one day, but his lips seemed to always be chapped, like he was forever going against the wind and getting burnt for the effort. She overlooked that, even though when they kissed it was often uncomfortable for her. His good qualities were quick to make her overlook his shortcomings.

She had a way of sighing that she never seemed to be aware of. When she worked or read, just every now and again, she would sharply inhale and slowly, loudly exhale. He couldn’t pinpoint the time when he first noticed it, but it was the sort of thing that, once noticed, couldn’t be unnoticed. Still, even if that grated his nerves, her smile made that irritation disappear.

He would often tear up the house looking for something lost without first asking her if she knew where it was. Didn’t matter what it was – television remote, his glasses, his cell phone – he would mutter, pulling up couch cushions, rummaging through drawers or just wander the house with increasing irritation. Since he didn’t ask her, she never knew what he was looking for. When he found it, she often could have told him where it was and saved everyone some time and aggravation. Still, he was a good provider, which meant something in this day and age.

She would mutter to herself incessantly. It was worst when she was upset about something, but she always seemed to be talking to herself at some level. He would ask her what she had said, thinking he had missed it. “Oh, I’m just talking to myself,” she would say on the good days. On bad days, she would yell “I’m talking to myself!” He wouldn’t say that talking to yourself was a bad thing, but he would think it. A lot. Still, she ….

The police found the bodies a few days after someone had known they were missing. It was ruled a murder-suicide, but police were baffled about which was which.




(an exercise based on the “Five and 10” exercise from Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer)