Free Read Friday: F is for Funghi, PtII

F is for Funghi

Authors Note: Nadine is choosing to elude me right now, but I'll get her pinned down. After all I sense she will be playing a pivotal role in the ending of this tale.

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He stood gazing into the hole for a moment, still not believing what happened before reason reasserted itself, and he was overwhelmed with the desire to run. He raced back to the house, glancing over his shoulder, expecting to find some unnamable thing pursuing him across the well manicured lawn. At the door he fumbled with the handle as a soft whine emerged from the back of his throat. Just when he thought he was going to pass out from his panic, or even worse, suffer a heart attack from his heart thundering in his ears, the door opened and he stumbled into the immaculate mud room.

“Is that you?” Nadine shouted from the depths of the house as he struggled to catch his breath, his hands gripping the sides of the utility sink to hold himself upright. He didn’t realize he’d been holding his breath the entire time and as he struggled to catch up black spots danced before his eyes.

“I just cleaned, don’t be tracking mud into the house.” He voice came from the kitchen beyond the doorway. Footsteps sounded as a shadow crossed the kitchen and he stood up, trying to fix a smile to his face as she came into view.

The screeching nature of her voice belied the simple beauty of her face. Were one to hear her without actually seeing her they would assume she were a shrew like woman with a hatchet face and a blade like nose. On the contrary she was quite simply, beautiful. With short blonde hair framing a symmetrical face that featured sparkling blue eyes.

Why she ever married him was one of the mysteries he chose not to solve, content to accept the fact that she was his wife. She was a compendium of contradictions, beautiful and smart, yet a terrible nag with a little problem keeping the house clean. It’s been said every dark cloud had a silver lining, sometimes those silver linings hid a much darker secret in their shimmering depths.

Nadine’s was fastidious. Always cleaning, never relaxing, and the house sparkled as a result of her obsession. Yet one could not live in a place this clean, not when the smallest piece of dust sent her into a cleaning frenzy. The house looked like it had been taken from the pages of some national magazine, so sterile, so perfect. It lacked that lived in appearance, a fact that kept Eric constantly on his toes.

“Are you all right?” she asked when his frightened expression became obvious to her. She crossed the mud room with a look of concern, her hand out to help him.

“I’m okay,” he said, “a squirrel startled me,” he lied, grabbing for the first thing that popped into his mind.

“A squirrel scared you?” she said as a smile spread across her face, revealing sparkling white teeth.

“Yeah, a squirrel, I must have startled it or something, it ran across my foot and scared the crap out of me.”

“It wasn’t rabid was it?” She asked, her smile fading as she glanced out the window into the back yard. “Maybe we should call animal control,” she said, her amusement turning to concern. “It didn’t bite you did it?”

“No, of course not, it just scared me, that’s all. I’ll be okay.

“Are you sure?” The mistrust grew in her eyes as they shifted from the window to Eric’s face, then back again. It was another of her little idiosyncrasies, she hadn’t been outside in over a year. Her doctor said she suffered from Agoraphobia, among other things. The last time she stepped outside, no further than the patio, she’d suffered a panic attack so bad she had to go into the hospital.

They’d met when he put out flyers to cut people’s grass after losing his job and she became one of his best customers. After a year of taking care of her lawn she had invited him inside and from that their friendship had grown into a relationship. Even when they got married it was in the house. At the time he had been blind to what his future might hold, but it wasn’t long before their clashes started, and Nadine’s true nature emerged.

To be continued!

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