This is a continuation of Roald Dahl’s short story “Lamb to the Slaughter.” It was a writing exercise from my Creative Writing class, please enjoy~
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“Mommy?” Tiny white hands clung onto the stool she bought a week ago from the lawn sale.
“Yes, dear?” She focused on washing the dishes, the bubbles foaming, the cool water, the feel of the pans, anything but those startling blue eyes, exact replicas of Patrick’s.
“Why can’t we go to Laney’s dinner party?”
“Because, Tommy, they’re serving lamb and you know how I hate lamb.”
The boy pitter pattered next to his mother and tugged at her skirt.
“But it’s my favorite! Why nooooooot,” he whined, tears starting to form, threatening to spill over.
“No crying,” she snapped, finally turning to directly face the boy. He looked up at her, sapphire eyes welling up with tears, shining in the light.
“I bet, I bet Daddy loved lamb!” he cried, desperation to go to the party laced in his toddler voice. He watched his Mommy maybe give in, because Mommy loved Daddy and surely tapping into her sorrow for her husband would guarantee his wish?
She froze. All her surroundings-the feel of the dishes, the temperature of the water, the slightly humid air, Tommy’s shining eyes-were drowned in the past now flooding her mind.
The frozen lamb chop. Patrick with his back facing her, by the window, saying he was going out. The crash when his body fell. The immediate clearing of her mind. And then the the guilt, slowly crawling into her life, leaving flames in their wake, flames to slowly consume her every time she looked into the little boy’s eyes…
She grasped her head in her hands, squeezing, and shut her eyes. Move on from that, Mary, she thought angrily, trying to prevent the rising tide of guilt ready to swallow her.
Is that how Patrick’s voice sounded when he was a toddler as well?
“Mommy? So, so can we go then?”
She squeezed her head tighter, as if she could squeeze out the memories of five years past, as if she could dispose of them forever.
“NO!” The word flew out like a bomb, but she wasn’t done. Once her mouth was freed, all the internal pent up pressure exploded.
“No lamb, no lamb chops, never EVER again do you understand Tommy; oh no, wait of course you can’t understand, never understand because I lied to you, yes your Mommy lied to you, do you know why? Because the truth, oh glory, the truth is worse than your worst nightmare and I hid it from you Tommy but it’s been eating me alive since you were born, and it’s my fault, all my fault that I told you lies and before even that, that I made you fatherless because…because Tommy
I KILLED DADDY.”
She spit out the last three words, each word echoing like thunder, lighting ripping through her carefully fabricated calm, illuminating the awful truth.
“And what, what did I kill him with? A frozen lamb chop.”
For ten, twenty, thirty seconds.
And then, pitter patter pitter patter, and tiny arms hugging her left leg. And a wetness, spreading across the bottom fringe of her skirt.
She slowly opened her eyes. Tommy was crying and holding onto her. His face was buried into her skirt, and her motherly instincts washed over all her guilt, cleansing her, simplifying her to the simple task of comforting her child.
She picked up the boy. He latched his arms around her neck, his tears now seeping into her shirt. But she didn’t feel it; instead, all she felt was overwhelming love for Tommy and guilt for not taking care of him.
The little boy continued to cry and she swayed back and forth to Beethoven’s First Romance on the Violin, their first dance at their wedding, strains of her happier past wafting up, free at last to wander her mind, liberated from the weight of her horrible secret.
Then came the memory of the proposal, then the letters they sent, then the English class they had together, then the moment she fell for him.
The crying stopped. Tommy slowly lifted his face to her, his cheeks tear stained and his blue eyes sparkling in tears, washed clean to the truth. And in those eyes, for the first time she saw the enchanting eyes she fell in love with. Not the eyes frozen still at death, but rather the lively, dancing eyes that intrigued her when they first met.
“Are you the bad guy, Mommy?”
She kissed his tiny forehead, shaking, overwhelmed.
“I used to be, but from now on, no more.” And then the tears came, the tears that wouldn’t flow, couldn’t flow for five years.
“Don’t cry, Mommy,” Tommy said gently, using his stubby little hands to wipe his mother’s rivers of tears. The little boy kissed his Mommy’s wet cheeks, and she leaned into every touch. This is us, she remembered Patrick telling her during the pregnancy. No matter what happens, this baby is us, Mary. Then he kissed her and kissed her swollen belly. And now, the baby was kissing her back.
I really enjoyed writing this piece. It was fun deconstructing the main character (the mother) and digging into her mind. Also, I was pleasantly surprised at how I liked writing about harder, darker topics. I can’t personally draw from my own experience, but by writing about it from the character’s perspective, I think it’s also good for me because I have to think from a different place.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this piece! Thanks for reading 🙂