Thursday photo prompt – Peace – #writephoto

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“Arlene? Are you listening?”  I asked.  “Did you see that kid with blue hair and a ring through his nose?”

“It’s so hard to believe we’re living in 1990.  It feels more like the Twilight Zone,” she said.  “My 8-year-old daughter wants a computer!  Her younger brother will have it apart in 2 days.”

I smoothed the hair on my blonde wig and pushed the oversized glasses further up my nose.  We were here to watch Charlene try on prom dresses and I wasn’t about to ruin her special day by being recognized and mobbed.

“Look at Charlene helping your little Pixie try on dresses!  They’re closer than most sisters.”

“She was so good with my son at his 14th birthday party. She has a kind heart…just like her mother.”

For the past eight years, I’d worried about when Arlene might try to kill me next.  Why couldn’t she step in front of a bullet…or a knife…or kill again and get caught?  But no!  She channeled her obsessions into becoming the world’s best mother to her 4 children!  

Seven years ago, I’d married another actor and had a second child.  The fact we had a one year old son at the time I filed for divorce clinched a guilty verdict from the public.  The pictures of his liaisons with other women helped me relieve him of half his fortune.

“Your youngest children are close to my son’s age,” I said.  “You’ve been immersed in motherhood for years.  You seem a bit distracted lately.”

“I met a man two weeks ago…”

“Lee,” I chuckled at her.  “Did you know his wife is a writer.  Her lawyer has pictures of you in bed with him.  She’s going to take him to the cleaners.”

“Are you stalking me?”

I gave her the best-friend-smile I’d perfected from an early age. “No.  I’m protecting you.  He belittled her every chance he got. You deserve better than that.”

Her oldest son, my son, and her two youngest were at home playing with building blocks together under the watchful eye of tutors and a baby sitter. We were free to explore a new 3-story mall with the only two children who weren’t hell-bent on making shopping a miserable experience.

Bubbly giggles erupted from  Arlene’s daughter.   Charlene held a light blue dress, her hair flowing around her as she twirled with her eyes crossed while mimicking a model’s expressionless face.

“Dear God,”  Arlene laughed.  “Charlene is making  a mockery out of every shampoo commercial in existence.”

“And doing a magnificent job of it.” 

This moment might have given me a sense of peace, were it not for one teensy fact.  I had arranged for a detective to take the pictures of Lee and Arlene.  No use being rid a a narcissistic husband only to have your faux best friend attract another man just like him.

Still, it left me with a big problem.  Arlene tried to kill me 18 years ago for sleeping with her boyfriend.  Then, she tried to kill me again 9 years ago, but genetics saved me that time.  I was beginning to wonder if her attempts to kill me were on a 9 year cycle.

Lee  made his bed, he had to lie in it.  But I didn’t want to die in it with him.

“Charlene looks so much like you,”  Arlene said.

“Your daughter looks a lot like my worthless ex-husband,”  I chuckled.  “Don’t be alarmed.  My detective had pictures of you in bed with him.  I told him to destroy them.  There were 20 other liaisons to choose from and I didn’t want you dragged through court.”

“I…I don’t know what to say?” she stuttered.

“He was a horrible man who preyed on a woman’s desire for love. I keep telling you, Arlene…friends are the people who don’t ask questions when you need to dispose of a body.”

No longer edged with the suspicions of the past, a peace had formed between us.  I’d lived so many years wondering when she’d try to kill me again, I’d forgotten what it felt like.  

Knowing Arlene, it might last a month.

“We have rotten taste in men,” I said.  “It’s about time we stopped letting them come between us.”

“That’s true.”

“We have a lot to be thankful for, starting with a fine home.  Our children turned out well, too.” 

“My son will need a group home when he turns 18,” Arlene said.

“Who told you that?”  I demanded.

“Lee.  It should’ve been a warning sign. He knew so much about Down Syndrome.   He seemed so accepting of my oldest son and so concerned about him.”

“Remember that magazine article 4 years ago, after your last child was born?”

“You, me, and our kids posed together for the cover photo,” Arlene said.  

“He knows you have money.  He wants it.  If he’d convinced you to send your oldest to a group home, he’d eventually convince you to send the other 3 to a boarding school next.  Then, he’d try to ruin our friendship.”

Her faced flushed with anger.  “No man will ever ruin our friendship again! Friends help other friends bury the bodies.”

“There’s a cave he might like to see,” I said, the corners of my mouth turning up into a slight smile.  

“The place where I tried to kill you the first time?”

I said, with a slight giggle,  “That’s the one.”

Her eyes twinkled. “What a wonderful idea.”

Perfect.  She’d coerce him into it, throw him down the shaft, and all those bodies she’d disposed of would be discovered.  The worst in a class of Forensic scientists couldn’t miss the connection between Arlene and her victims.

“Mom!”  Charlene yelled out, holding two bags.  “Pixie and I have matching dresses!”

The first thing I’m going to do when Arlene goes to prison is adopt her children…after all, her youngest 3 are my son’s half-siblings.  Then, I’ll change Pixie’s name.  

Karma sounds like a good choice.


© Joelle LeGendre