“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.”
The Tell-Tale Heart
By Edgar Allan Poe
How it got there I did not know nor care. With a mounting sense of dread, I quickly snatched the single sheet of college ruled note paper from upon the kitchen table.
A tiny sketched heart, meticulously drawn with endearing flair substituted for the simple dot above the letter “i” in my given name. I perused the cursive ardor filling the page with secrets–our secrets.
I heard a sound upstairs, Laura, my dear wife. I crumpled the note hurriedly; this caused a thin, deep paper cut to my index finger. I dashed out back, into the frosty night air, and threw the note into the rubbish container. Returning to my abode, I carelessly slammed the back door.
“Tim, everything okay?” came the shout from up the stairs.
“Everything is fine Laura,” I said, though all was precisely opposite of sound.
I sighed heavily, and slumped into a chair at the kitchen table. I placed my finger against my lips to soothe the sting of my cut. When upward I glanced I became aware of its presence–the note–resting unscathed on the table.
I grabbed the obstinate paper with velocity. The slash befallen my finger now throbbed incessantly, but I paid it no heed as I crumpled the note into an even tighter sphere than before.
I went outside into the icy evening air once more, cast the note into the trash and slammed the lid tightly upon the can. Walking back, I glanced over my shoulder at the sealed container—-hopeful my stare could will this bout a quick end.
This time, I closed the back door gently when I returned, a faint click the only resonance to my clandestine foray. I advanced down the hall and peered into the kitchen. Just as I feared; the note rested seemingly untouched upon the kitchen table. Once again, I seized it.
As I headed to the door, Laura appeared. I wadded up the note and concealed it within clenched fist. Laura outstretched her arm and opened her hand in front of me, palm up.
“Give it to me,” she demanded.
“Whatever you’re hiding, give it to me.”
My head ached in unity with my finger. A ringing in my ears drowned any thoughts of additional subterfuge. What more could I do? I placed the pleated orb in her hand.
“I’m sorry Laura.”
“Sorry, for what?”
I told her the tale of Rowena, one of my students. How, when I informed her she was failing my course, she broke down in unrelenting sobs. How she needed to pass the course in order to graduate. How I offered to lend her aid by way of mentoring. How our innocent tutoring sessions on the Allegorical Elements of Edgar Allen Poe embarked with innocent intent, yet soon veered afar from the course description. How I ended the affair, but Rowena kept after me.
Laura uncrumpled the note. She stared at the page, shook her head and handed it back to me. She told me to leave. She told me to come back in the morning for my belongings.
I kept quite still and said nothing as Laura walked up the stairs. When I heard the bedroom door slam, I looked down at the note. Apart from my bloodstains, the page was blank.
Bio – Mark Rosenblum–a New York native who now lives in Southern California–misses the taste of real pizza and good deli food. His work has been featured in Tiferet, Boston Literary Magazine, Everyday Fiction, Flashes in the Dark, Yellow Mama, Six Minute Magazine, Short, Fast & Deadly, Sleet Magazine, Monkeybicycle and upcoming in Apocrypha and Abstractions. He has also appeared in the anthologies: It All Changed in an Instant, Thinking Ten—A Writer’s Playground, The Best of Eclectic Flash 2010, Pure Slush Volume I, Daily Flash 2012, Six Words about Work and Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life.