by Linda Famous
Snuggled on the sofa under an orange fleece blanket wearing her old flannel pajamas and reading a book - that was how she spent winter evenings by herself when Jack, her tech-savvy husband, was traveling for work doing site support for computer systems across the country. Jenny was so involved in the latest mystery novel by her favorite author she wasn't sure what distracted her from the page-turning action that had kept her engrossed for the past hour; perhaps a gust of wind on the chilly January night had blown over a neighbor's trash can in the back alley? Padding to the kitchen in her worn red slipper socks that kept her warm in the drafty old twin house, she turned the oven burner to high under her tarnished copper tea kettle to heat the water inside and absentmindedly grabbed her blue mug from the cabinet and a tea bag from the box on the counter next to the oven as she thought happily about Jack. Their 15 years of marriage hadn't all been wine and roses, with the infertility problems, a few affairs (by Jack), a black eye (her mother never forgave him) and some financial trouble (from his pornography addiction), but since Jack had started counseling last month Jenny could feel things were really beginning to turn around this time; he'd even promised to paint the front porch and fix the broken basement window. Feeling a draft, she turned and saw Jack had left the basement door ajar that afternoon when he had gotten clean clothes for his trip; Jenny walked across the kitchen, but as her left hand reached for the door knob a man's arm reached through the opening and grabbed her arm violently. An hour later when Jack came in the back door to find the steaming tea kettle nearly dry he searched the house for Jenny, never expecting to find her lifeless, naked body at the bottom of the basement steps; his frantic call to 9-1-1 wasn't enough to convince the jury of his innocence, especially when the airline had no record of his ticket on the canceled flight to Cleveland and in his new effort to clean up his life he'd sat alone at the gate reading a discarded sports magazine instead of perched on a stool in the airport bar drinking.
Linda Famous lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania and can often be found on Twitter.