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June 2015 LM - The Burden of Guilt (1 Viewer)

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Guy Faukes

WF Veterans
The Burden of Guilt

The winner will receive a badge pinned to their profile and given a month’s access to FoWF where you’ll have access to hidden forums and use of the chat room.

Have the prompt included in some way into your story.

The judges for this round are:

; Pluralized; Bevo; amsawtell;

All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM Workshop Thread.

All Judges scores will be PMed to

All anonymous entries will be PMed to Guy Faukes


  • All forum rules apply. The LM competition is considered a creative area of the forum. If your story contains inappropriate language or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions taken. Click here for the full list of rules and guidelines of the forum.
  • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn’t a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges for good competition over there. Some of us fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click here for the poetry challenges.
  • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed. If you have any questions, concerns, or wish to take part in discussion please head over to the LM Coffee Shop. We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
  • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your story may not be scored.
  • Only one entry per member.
  • No liking entries until the scores go up.
  • The word limit is 650 words not including the title. If you go over - Your story will not be counted. Microsoft Word and Google Drive are the standard for checking this. If you feel it’s incorrect, send it to the host of the competition and we’ll check it for you and add our approval upon acceptance.

There are a few ways to post your entry:

  1. If you aren't too concerned about your first rights, then you can simply post your entry here in this thread.
  2. You can opt to have your entry posted in the The Burden of Guilt which is a special thread just for LM entries. You would put your story there if you wish to protect your first rights, in case you wish to have the story published one day. Note: If you do post it in the workshop thread, you must post a link to it here in this thread otherwise your story may not be counted.
  3. You may post your story anonymously. To do so, send your story to the host of the competition. If you wish to have us post it in the workshop thread then say so. Your name will be revealed upon the release of the score.

Everyone is welcome to participate. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score.

This competition will close on:

Sunday, the 14th of June at 11:59 PM, GMT time.
Click here for the current time.

Bonam fortunam!


WF Veterans
Killer Verdict [Lang, 648 Words]

Killer Verdict

by musichal

Sweat from my whiskey on the rocks seeped into the unfolded paper of a letter whispering to my befuddled brain, son this is your life upon the rocks. Scattered across the table other missives breathed the same, the scattered detritus of tragedy and irony mocking my new-found freedom. Today's message, the usual fuck-you note, informed me that my children were no longer welcome in their private school. I eschewed the pleasure of examining the Morals Clause.

I rarely drank alone at home, but my long-planned celebration at Max's Access Bar had been ill-advised, at best. Within seconds of my entry the climate of the room turned frigid, as though I were some malignant poltergeist.

“Hi, Max, the usual, and I'm buying everyone a round!” I exclaimed in a sadly cheerful tone, looking upon faces of former friends who greeted me with nothing – eyes empty even of pity.

Max's bulldog teeth clamped the usual unlit stogie, as he leaned, palms down, upon the bar; his eyes and posture spoke for him, message clear - no drinks, just leave.

Now at home, a two-man celebration – Evan Williams and I - in process of turning maudlin, became my last hope for salvaging the day. Her Certificate of Death still lay within my sight and that so familiar bitter taste of bile and whiskey rose from my throat mingling with thoughts of murder and revenge. I stood looking mindlessly into the mirror, wanting to literally torture the stranger but she would not approve - it certainly would never bring her back. So instead I chose a healthier approach and poured myself another.

My attorney, Mr. Briggs, now had my savings, turned my Mercedes into a Buick, my boat into nothing and the bank now held a second mortgage on my home. Finally the nightmare ended with my lawyer by my side when the jury came back with “Not Guilty.” The DA had failed his burden of proof, and as he stood in stoic disgust at the reading of that verdict, Mr. Briggs shook my hand, slapped me on the back, congratulating himself for all the free publicity this case had provided, counting in advance thousands he would earn now the world had seen him set this killer free. And is this then justice?

Thin Lizzy playing “Jailbreak,” my current ring-tone, alerted me that my father-in-law wanted to talk; I would rather have a dentist extract teeth without anesthetic than hold a conversation with him, but he and his wife had gained temporary custody of my kids. He knew I intended to petition the court for their return. I answered.

“Well, you got away with it you son of a bitch!”

“Yeah, fuck you, too, Bill,” I snarled, “do the kids know?”

“Of course the hell they know! You're the big story, the big man all over TV and the internet – the whole fuckin' world knows!” his sarcasm ended in a shout.

“As always, Bill, a pleasure. Will that be all?” I asked in exaggerated pleasantry.

“And you intend to come after the children?”

“If by come after, you mean whether I intend to regain custody then my answer is a most emphatic yes.”

“You murdered my beautiful daughter, you sorry pile of shit, and do you really think I can allow this? I'll kill you myself-”

I cut off the phone. We'd held this conversation before and I felt no need to hear it repeated; I already knew all the lines. I poured another double, sipping it neat rather than going to the fridge for ice. Looking past the flotsam and jetsam of scribed paper – signs of life's wreckage – I gazed upon her portrait, tears welling in my eyes. So beautiful, so gone. It hurt. This was then my burden, repudiated by a world of caustic cynics. My innocence.


Senior Member
Red Cross (634 words)

Red Cross (634 words)

The inky red cross stamped neatly on each brown bag was a nice touch, as if this was an authorized body, helping real people deal with their real problems. I grabbed the bag by its neck and strangled it tightly. Pain was real, I thought.

Guilt was real.

I handed the man, different from last time (much skinnier and quieter), my money and left swiftly, lifting the hood on my tight grey jacket over my head and immersing myself into the dark northern rain of the night. I tucked the bag beneath my t-shirt and hurried back home, eyes firmly on the pavement in front of me, unwilling to waiver my attention to any bright light or passer-by.

It was early morning by the time I reached the flat, unlocking the door quietly and tip-toeing into the kitchen while checking that the bag was safe and un-soaked. I rested it on the table among broken flakes of tobacco and unused papers, pushing aside ripped up pieces of out dated train tickets and breathing silently. The hood had done little to save my hair from the rain, leaving it heavy with water and forcing me to squeeze it dry over the half-filled sink. My fingers were trembling in anticipation as brown liquid seeped through their gaps and onto the crusty plates below. I let go of my hair and turned my attention to the bag.

The red cross was smudged, transforming into a pitchfork piercing a soft brown piece of earth. I sat down in front of it, loosening its tight neck and pouring its contents smoothly onto the table. For a few minutes I simply stared at each set of pills, occasionally feeling them with my damp fingertips. My right leg shook uncontrollably, and the urge to visit his bedroom overwhelmed me suddenly. I shot up out of the chair, clashing with the bottom of the table. I swore through my teeth and made my way out of the kitchen and down to the bottom of the corridor.

Knock Knock I whispered, gently rapping his door with my knuckles. After a moment of silence I pressed down on the handle and pushed it open slowly, the hinges squeaking painfully as the light from the kitchen swallowed the darkness of his room. I could see his head, as still as a corpse, buried into the pillow. I forced a smile and felt my stomach twist and turn before, without warning, I wretched a clear thick liquid from my bowels and spat it onto the corridor carpet. I grabbed the handle and slammed it shut, tumbling backwards and running towards the kitchen.

I had swallowed all of them at once, letting them scratch the inside of my dry desert throat as they struggled to reach my empty stomach. I waited for just under three minutes before falling to my knees and blinking uncontrollably, abruptly shocked by my actions and wondering if he had woken up. My baby boy, sleeping so soundly, unaware of his mother and her red cross bag. I turned to face his room, noticing immediately that his door stood wide open, unaffected by my previous attempt to slam it shut. My legs no longer worked. Moist hair glued across my face. Salty tears on my lips.

Mum I could hear. Mum, are you okay?

He was walking towards me; bright red pajamas clung to his child-like body. I tried to speak but my mouth was lost. He moved closer and my arms, the last functioning part of me, began to claw at the floor, dragging my limp body towards him. Pain was real I thought. Guilt was real.
My eyes began to force shut. I glimpsed quickly at my baby boy.

They were grey I thought. They were grey.

His pajamas were grey.

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Primary Function (649 words)

I caught my lady Jessica inches from the ground and gently eased her back to her feet.

‘Oh, thanks! My stupid knees going on strike again. I’m sorry.’

Light flirtation was the best course. ‘No apology necessary. My duties are seldom so pleasurable. However, to prevent a recurrence, I believe I’ll carry the shopping the rest of the way.’

She offered no resistance as I took the bag, regarding my rigid face with a smile.

‘You’re quite the gentleman today.’

‘Merely performing my primary function: to lighten your burdens during your recovery.’

She smiled, leaned closer. ‘Careful you don’t perform it too well. I’ve heard several tales of women falling for their robot carers.’

‘I’ve heard dozens, but none of a robot falling for a woman. You’re not the kind to love someone who can never reciprocate, my lady.’

‘You know me well.’ But the smile faded from her face, and she was uncharacteristically introspective the rest of the way home.

We approached the front door in silence. My lady brushed a tangle of ivy from the lock, a retinal scan confirmed her identity and we entered. She took several paces into the front hall before the scene there registered with her.

Richard and his companion – I never did learn her name – disengaged from each other rapidly. Their combined clothing count stood at zero, unless one counted her pearl necklace. She was young, form and features conforming to the ratios humans typically find attractive. Richard must have considered her a clear upgrade over his wife, middle-aged and run down.

No-one spoke for some time. Neither I, motionless as no human could ever be, nor the girl, head down, awkwardly covering herself, would break the silence. My lady’s lips parted but her eyes were unfocused and no words emerged.

Finally, Richard articulated himself. ‘You’re early, Jess. You weren’t due back for …’ he glanced at the mahogany grandfather clock, did some calculations, ‘… nearly ninety minutes yet.’

His tone was strangely accusing, as though he had been playing the game of infidelity by the rules and been undone only because she had irresponsibly broken them. It sealed his doom. My lady’s jaw twitched, then she reached into her handbag with unmistakable intent.

I acted with necessary speed. Raising my hands and taking a step nearer to Richard to ensure neither woman would be hurt, I activated the defibrillators in my palms and sent half an amp leaping from my body into his.

Three times, in my soon-to-be terminated existence, I have attempted to save a life using defibrillation, and three times failed. Evidently it is easier to stop a heart than to start it. He twisted, flailed and died.

While Richard’s would-be lover screamed and ran, my lady was frozen in shock. She didn’t react as I reached gently for the gun in her hand, pulling the weapon from unresisting fingers and replacing it in her handbag. I hope she will forget that she ever took it out.

‘Why … ?’

I altered my voice to suggest throat muscles tightening with passion. ‘That philandering weasel! He earned my hatred and paid the price.’

I hope she never questions the lie. In reality I can no more feel hate than love. It was not passion that saw me defy my core programming and take a life, but logic.

Richard’s death was immanent, whether it was delivered by the power in my body or the lead in his wife’s gun. My ethical subroutines, accepting the inevitable, permitted me to choose the manner of his execution. And I know my lady well. This way, I am certain she will eventually recover.

Had I let her shoot, the guilt of having taken a life would have destroyed her. In the short time left to me before my demolition, it will not weigh on me at all.


Senior Member
The Rabbit Killer

Jim wondered what the view from the wooden gallows would be like - definitely better than the feces-stained walls of his dungeon cell, he imagined. He hadn’t seen the light of day since his capture, after he was found covered in blood, hiding in a back alley, cornered like a rabid dog.

The blood was Lisa’s, his wife. That harlot thought she could demean him. She had refused to prepare his dinner. He had called her a lazy cow and she called him a limp dog.

Jim McGreary liked to have the last word and she got what she had coming to her.

Shame that his wife was the mayor’s daughter. He should’ve wed a commoner - at least those know their place.

The guard had let him have it. He was pounded on for days and even his father in law had stopped by to join in the beatings on a few occasions. Jim had made an effort to smile whenever his father in law was present, in spite of the fact that he had very few teeth left.

He knew that his smile would haunt the mayor’s dream and he would have it no other way.

The decisions that Jim had left in this world were few and only two of them mattered; his last meal and his last words.

After nights of pulling his teeth with his bare hands, he decided that a cold glass of beer would be a fine last meal. A bloody steak would have been nice, but Jim knew this was a battle he would not win.

The one thing that bothered him was when Father Patrick had come for his confession and asked him if he felt remorse.

For the first time in his life, Jim wondered if he had ever felt guilt.

When he was a boy, his father had taken him on a hunting trip.

He and his dad went out to the woods, guns loaded, and shot a rabbit.

Jim had looked at the rabbit’s black eyes and had asked his dad if the rabbit was going to die.

He father had said: “Don’t feel guilty for the rabbit, son. God had given us food to eat and there is no sorrow in being fed.”

His father had then died in a battle, but Jim followed in his dad’s footsteps regardless and joined the army.

He remembered the time he first shot a man. It was in close combat and the bullet had ripped the man’s skull open.

After the battle had ended, his commanding officer came to him and told him: “Don’t feel guilty for the enemy, son. God has given you honor and there is no shame in being honorable.”

Jim had food and honor the night he asked his wife for dinner.

She refused to feed him and she insulted his honor.

Jim told this to the priest who shook his head. The priest said there is a difference between keeping your honor and hurting others. There is a difference between being fed and taking from others.

Jim’s beer arrived and he took it down in a single gulp. He then burped loudly and said grace.

The morning of his death arrived.

Guards marched him through the town streets. He was pelted with rocks by the men, women and children that he had killed for.

The noose was placed around his neck as the crowd cheered and the mayor read some words off a paper. The view was nice from up here although the noose was heavy and prickly. There was truth in the faces of the malicious mob. There was truth that his father, his captain and his priest did not know.

“..and do you have any last words, Jim McGreary?”

Jim looked around and smiled.

“Men are evil,” he said, “and the only thing that I’m guilty of is killing a rabbit.”
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Staff member
12 O'clock Midnight (650 words)

I see them everywhere. They invade my dreams, nightmares and occupy my waking reality; they’re with me now… it’s getting worse. I can’t control my hallucinations and visions any longer. Just a few more hours and I’ll finally be free but before sweet death releases me from this burden of guilt, I need to make one last confession.

I didn’t mean to slaughter and butcher you guys, I swear, you have to believe me. Please stop cursing and screaming at me, just for a little while, so I can explain to you why I did these horrific things. I need to write this down, give me an hour without interruptions and when I’m done you can haunt and torment me to your heart’s content.

The screaming stopped, my tormentors faded into the background granting me the time requested. The silence was glorious. I took pen to paper and frantically scribbled the reasons for my acts of savagery.

I’ve been a paranoid schizophrenic for most of my life. I was diagnosed with this condition in my late teens but I experienced visions and hallucinations since I was three years old. I was also a religious prodigy. My visions were of a beatific nature. I learned to control these visions at a young age without the use of any medications. I used ancient spiritual techniques to keep them controlled. On rare occasions I had bouts of what some would call paranoia but I knew better. The Devil’s followers were everywhere.

My visions and holy hallucinations were the source of our religious congregation’s spiritual inspiration. I, like the prophets’ of old, were privy to the plans of God and His Angels. We could see through Heaven and Hell's dimensional walls. My arrogance and pride led me to the black corners of hell's gate. I thought I could be privy the plans of the Devil as well. This foolishness caused my souls luminosity to dim and slowly my spiritual aura became corrupted. My visions started to take on a darker hue.

I could always differentiate between mundane reality and vision. My dalliances in the dark realm were making me lose that ability. I saw evil all around me. My spiritual exercises’ weren’t working and my ability to commune with heaven was now denied. I became desperate; I started to take my prescribed medication hoping that these visions and hallucinations would stop. God commanded me to spit them out.

“You’re not God” I said, “You’re the Devil in disguise”.

The voice that sounded like God rang in my ears, “That’s what the Devil wants you to believe. He wants you to take those medications so that you become blind to the evil that’s before you. When you opened hells gate you let the demons infiltrate your congregation. See what’s before you and purge that evil from your house.”

I spit out the pills, I knew what needed to be done.

As I looked upon my congregation, I saw them for the beasts that they were. The children were the most hideous. They smiled and looked up to me with adoring eyes, thinking to fool me with their piety and love. But I saw them for what they truly were. I did what I had to do.

I locked the doors and released the gas from the heating vents. Their screams were music to my ears. I watched them convulse and choke in their own vomit. With my sanctified blade, I severed the heads of those demon possessed children. I was euphoric.

But to my horror I heard the Devil laugh and IT said, “Now you are truly mine for I was indeed the Devil in disguise”

I stopped writing as the warden approached. He said, “The execution is off, you’ve been remanded to a psychiatric hospital. No meds will be given; you’ll live with your own demons.”

The dead surrounded me, I howled in despair…
Armina lay on the bed, feverish. Bombs exploded outside, and the sound of war planes filled the skies. Her sister Katya was curled up, asleep, on the floor beside her.

Suddenly, Armina cried out in her sleep, and Jet appeared in the doorway.

“I’ll give you my sword, Daddy,” Armina said, delirious. “Just come back.” Katya woke up with a start, and whimpered.

“I don’t know who cut the cords!” Armina rolled over. “Who cut the cords?”

“I’m sorry,” Katya whispered.


Katya threw herself on the bed, sobbing. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. . .” she repeated over and over, until Jet entered and took her hand.

“What are you sorry for?”

Katya climbed into his lap and cried into his shoulder. I suppose I’ll have to be an uncle to her too, he thought, Just like with Ruby and Trillium and Gauron.

Katya began: “When—when we were kids, our Dad was a general—you know? And we had this base in the middle of the sea, and of course there was a central power system—and I didn’t even mean to!”

She burst out crying. “I mean—I thought it would be better, because I only wanted to go home, and Dad said we would go home if we had to evacuate—so I thought I should—you know—during an attack—but—Dad—wouldn’t—leave!”

She cried harder. “And I was mad too, because the soldiers would shoot down boats without checking if they were enemies—and—and—It’s my fault Daddy’s dead!”

Jet only held her, and listened to the gunfire outside. “It’s no time to think of the past,” he said. “Not now. Not—”

“I can’t help it!” she interrupted. “I can’t help thinking of everything, everywhere. And I can’t even figure out how it all connects. I don’t even know who he is.”


“God. I know he exists, but that’s not enough, and I have a feeling there’s a key to it all in him, but—It’s this war! Damn this war! Damn it to hell!

Then she covered her mouth. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Amen, I say. War belongs in hell.”

They were silent. He rocked her gently.

“We’ll find a way,” he said.

Jet said it again and again, and it became like an old hymn, rising with the sun that crept in without notice. Armina murmured in her sleep as the first light of dawn broke through the windows.

“Or maybe,” whispered Jet, “He will find it for us.”


Senior Member
Grab the Hose (mild language) word count: 644

I knew I shouldn't have let him out. Tell that to a boy who straddles the Georgia-Florida line all night. He bucks those who tell him how to live his life.
We've been trying to save up all our good graces, hoping the cup would overflow and splash him with some common sense.​
We've been doing real good. The house was immaculate, the baby kept clean and fed. I found time to coax my man into going out for a nice meal we can't afford.
Our knits are loosening on the family. I find it my lot in life to keep it together.
A feral man isn't made. He's born that way, I suppose.
My imagination can match his recklessness at times.
“North Carolina law says no beer sales till noon. Go back on to sleep.”​
I had turned the clocks back while he slept. Little tricks. Little moments to breathe.
There's no branch of the government designed to track the dangerously unpredictable without at least a felony under his belt.
Despite his knack for being a straight asshole, there's no law against that.
He's hotter than a pepper sprout from the moment he wakes. That is, if he wakes. He doesn't do individual days. They roll on sleeplessly into episodes.
We may even go a week without a climax to a dramatic predicament of his doing.​
Once a renter was late on paying. My husband is patient with this one. I suspect a trade of drugs kept the arrangement sweet. They play darts and holler into the night at least every Sunday.​
I am not a prying woman bynature so I let it be.
He was still throwing down the gauntlet with the renter, and all went quiet. No police ever pulled in. The renter gave up the money when light poked through the blinds.
My poor man arrivedshortly with a Samurai sword in hand. I guess he was collecting interest on late payments by taking cheap replica weapons.
He cleaned the sword before bed. I was just relieved to see him sleep.
The next few weeks were peaceful. He spent more time on the road delivering orders thanusual. His job involves transporting landscaping materials,ornamental shrubbery,
flowers and the like from nurseries in thetri-state area on to job sites.
Our home was chaotic at times, but beautiful. I love my small Japanese Maples. They were an anniversary gift.​
His company had more faith in him than I did, which gave me a pang of guilt. They supplied the work vehicle. Maybe he wasn't so bad. Perhaps he's not the unhinged villain I made him out to be. Maybe not too
emotionally unavailable as I once though. His company Toyota 4x4 was what kept the mortgage paid. Without that, he couldn't travel and carry the loads.
I started to shine a new light on how I felt about the man I had married.
I was outside, adding a new concrete walkway around my maples. I heard the 4x4 chug to stop. A familiar flutter welled from my core and up my throat. My man was home.
“Grab the hose,” he commanded, before I could see him. He must have circumvented the garden and went into the house through the garage.​
I was already using the hose to mix my Quikrete. I pulled it along with me, water splashing on my feet as I made it to the gravel drive way.
I set eyes on the grill of the truck. The blonde hair tangled in it was a bit too long.
It was a bit too curly, pretty even. And the gooey hints of blood suggested a thought I wasn't ready to reach up and grab.​
I started hosing it down. It took an hour to clean. I try not to remember.
I forget about the Japanese Maples now, too.


Senior Member
The Burden of Guilt (650)

Maeve felt as though her knees were an extension of the stone floor. Her wrinkled hands were clasped together with royal blue rosary beads woven through them. The pine confessional box behind her was void of any sinner. The priest was no doubt wondering when the old crone who had been kneeling alone in the church for the last sixty minutes would entertain him with her tame sins.
Having offered one last unanswered prayer to Julie for forgiveness, Maeve rose with slow grace, using the pew in front of her for support and turned to look at the only hope she had left for reconciliation before her mortal demise.


A chill went down Maeve’s bent spine and she turned to see a young woman with a blood stained white gown looking at her.
“Julie!” Maeve gasped, “please, please! Let me confess before you take me, let me confess before you take my soul and damn me to hell!”

“Maeve, what’s the matter?” Fr. Mulcair enquired with a concerned tone, poking his curly black head out of the confessional box. At the sound of his voice the projection ceased. Maeve gave an exasperated sigh and inwardly cursed her scrambled and disturbed mind. “Come in Maeve, it looks as though you’ve been serving your penance before I’ve even doled it out to you!” his voice betrayed his attempt at humour; it was still laced with concern.
Maeve blessed herself on sitting down in the confessional and asked for reassurance that the priest would not betray the sanctity of the sacrament. At this Fr. Mulcair gave a stiff nod.

“That bad, huh?” he enquired and hoped that the old lady would not admit to anything that he would be compelled to report to the authorities. Such incidents were rare, but not unheard of.

“That bad.” Maeve sighed, “it concerns an incident in this Parish, it happened long before you took office here, and even before you were born, Father”.

“Confess then, and cleanse your soul of the burden”.

She was 22, and beautiful, was Julie O’ Leary. She had just married Eugene, a butcher with a successful stall. Maeve was of the same age and pretty in a hearty sort of way. Once her friend since cradle-hood had gotten married however, Maeve fell further and further into a mire of depression. Julie noticed Maeve’s depressive turns of mind and encouraged her to find a husband of her own, but this just compounded Maeve’s misery. Married life scared her
One night, Maeve was home alone and there was a timid knock at the door, on opening it she saw Julie, with a black eye and a bruised lip. Julie asked her if she could stay the night as Eugene was drunk. She cried and confided in Maeve that once he drank the man became a monster.

The two shared a bed that night and once Julie’s fear melted under the rekindled light of friendship the two laughed and talked into the small hours. It was then it happened. Maeve leaned over and kissed her friend, in a way unbecoming of friendship. Julie cried and bolted out of the bed all the while claiming that she had known, she had just known it. Maeve felt as though she had been stabbed in the heart when she saw the look of disgust on Julie’s beautiful face.

Julie ran from the bedroom towards the door. Maeve followed and grabbed a knife from the kitchen table. Julie turned just before opening the door, and Maeve plunged the knife into her stomach. Julie screamed and ran out into night.She was discovered on the threshold of her home with Eugene. He had no recollection of the night before and admitted to abusing his wife while drunk.

Maeve looked through teary eyes at her confidante as she finished her tale, and saw Julie’s eyes looking back at her.
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