It was Sunday, that non-entity of a day between the freedom of Saturday and the harsh reality of Monday. A day of preparation, filled not at work but with it—laundry, grocery shopping, meal prepping, and bills.
When April, my best friend, texted me about brunch at a local bar, I replied that I had too much to do. My phone rang about two seconds later. Against my better judgment, knowing how persuasive she could be, I answered.
“There’s a band, and they’re right up your alley,” she said, skipping hello. “It’ll take you five minutes to walk here. And it’s the weekend! You’re divorced, not dead.”
Ouch. Another reminder to stop hiding out in my apartment like a hermit. In the three months since I signed the paperwork and tossed my simple gold band into the Atlantic Ocean, I hadn’t gotten out much.
I peeled myself out of bed, threw some product in my hair, and applied mascara.
I’ll stay an hour, I told myself, and then I’ll come home and get to business. April was right—I needed to start living my life again. My household tasks could wait.
After a brisk walk in the chill fall air, I arrived at the Wild Boar Saloon. Sports memorabilia and a few animal heads lined the faux brick wall in stark contrast to the hipster items on the menu: acacia mojitos and vegan cupcakes, for instance. I imagined the owners hadn’t been able to agree and decided to compromise with this bizarre mishmash.
I spotted April right away. As usual, she stood out from the crowd; while others looked a little grungy like me, April wore a lavender dress that contrasted perfectly against her glossy red hair—effortlessly elegant, calm and collected, while I could barely pull myself together.
She looked up, and I learned this wasn’t a casual brunch. April wore that pinched expression I knew so well, the one where she was going to disappoint me.
“I need to tell you something,” she said, and that’s when it happened.
With a loud crash, the tremendous elk head fell from the wall, smashing the glass table beneath it, scattering coffees, muffins, and people.
Shrieks and cries filled the room. As I looked across the table, the tableau unfurled in front of me: April’s outstretched hand, the ultrasound picture curled in her fingers. The large, jagged shard of glass jutting out of her pale throat.
Her red blood spilled out from the wound like paint from a can as her mouth opened and closed, opened and closed, and the light dimmed from her eyes.
When the ambulance came, I saw him: Frank, my ex, wailing over April’s lifeless form, her blood besmirching the light blue sweater I had bought him for Christmas last year.
If he saw me, he didn’t acknowledge it. We hadn’t parted on good terms after the stress and struggle of our failed attempts at IVF.
He must have been listed as her next of kin. Someone had called him. I sat back and watched as April’s body got carted away with Frank’s dying or dead baby inside of her.
I thought about the betrayal, not just of my own fruitless womb but of my very best friend planning a family with my former partner.
As I walked back to my apartment, friendless, husbandless, and childless, I thought about my chores. There was that laundry to do. I glanced down at my shirt and wondered if I had solvent to attack the stain marring my cardigan.
Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar is a writer and associate English professor in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Dillydoun Review, Montana Mouthful, Little Old Lady Comedy, The Centifictionist, Tales from the Moonlit Path, Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine, Eerie Christmas 2, The Drabble, and more. She holds a Doctorate of Education with a Literacy Specialization from the University of Delaware and is working toward an MFA in Creative Writing at Wilkes University.