To Your Health

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Fourteen years of marriage was all Rachel Ellis could endure. It was time to cut the cord; to say goodbye.

It wasn’t just her husband’s arrogance or competitive nature. Everything about Michael sickened her, from the way he chewed his food or the way he parted his hair to the left side, to the tacky ties he wore with his cheap suits or that atrocious, offensive French cologne he doused himself in. Or how he treated Rachel like a house maid, expecting her to cook, clean, wash the dishes, and do all the laundry in between work.

She longed for the days when Michael made her feel loved and appreciated. The days where he was kind and considerate and didn’t expect her to rearrange her schedule or push her career aside to accommodate him. But those days were long gone.

She might’ve been able to look past his imperfections or his vexing behavior if it were not for his infidelity. That was the last strike. Rachel had hired a private detective, who discovered Michael was having an affair with his coworker, Cindy.

And Patricia, in human resources.

And Linda, his boss’s secretary.

And Annie, his supervisor.

And Jackie, who worked in the mailroom.

Michael had slept with half the office, and that was all the motivation Rachel needed.

Rachel had prepared a sumptuous feast that evening, comprised of braised short ribs, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, and red roasted potatoes. She cooked over a hot stove while a pile of bills loomed over her shoulder on the adjacent countertop.

First notice. Second notice. Final notice. They had fallen behind a little bit in the past few months. But that didn’t concern Rachel at the moment. Once she was free from this marriage, she could worry about sorting out the mess Michael had created.

She did her makeup, straightened her light brown hair, wore a silk black dress with shiny diamond earrings and matching gold bracelets on each wrist. Souvenirs of a happier time in their marriage.

Her husband got home late that evening, but the table was already set and the food was still warm by the time he sat down. He said a brief hello before he sat down, no kiss, no loving embrace, no “how was your day?”

Michael devoured nearly the entire meal before he even reached for his glass of wine.

“What should we drink to?” he asked.

“To your health,” she suggested.

“And to yours,” he said, raising his glass. They clinked them together but then Rachel set her glass down. She watched in sheer ecstasy as her husband took a fatal sip of red wine.

He retched at the bitter taste. His eyes watered and turned glassy and red. He struggled to his feet, taking half the tabletop with him. His plate shattered on the floor; his wine glass exploded into hundreds of tiny shards. His face turned from red to purple as he clawed at his own throat, struggling to breathe.

“I poisoned your glass as soon as I set the table,” Rachel said, grinning like a Cheshire cat. “If it’s any consolation, it’s not for the insurance money. That’s just a bonus. This is for every woman you’ve screwed behind my back. What, you didn’t think I’d find out eventually? A wife always knows.”

She raised her glass in twisted celebration, draining it in one or two gulps, and in a few seconds, she was on the floor beside Michael, gasping for air as her face turned as purple as her husband’s tie.

Sprawled out on the floor, about five or six feet apart, they locked eyes.

She wheezed as she tried to speak. “What did you do?” she cried, breathing raggedly.

“I guess it’s true what they say, great minds think alike,” Michael said through deep, laborious breaths. “You poisoned my glass, and I poisoned yours when you weren’t looking.”

“But why?” she said, choking out the words.

“Insurance money. We were going broke. I needed the money. And I knew you were getting sick of me and you’d try to leave me eventually and take everything I had left. This was the only way to pay off our debts and keep the house.”

“I’ll see you in hell,” she said as she took her last breaths.

“Not if I see you first,” Michael said as his eyes fluttered, then closed for eternity.

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