THE HARDEST WALK • by David Rees-Thomas

What was I supposed to think? He just sat there on the bed. Dumb as a rock, mascara tracing a ragged line down his cheeks, like a bad joke, his bust lopsided, the stuffing coming out and wriggling down the inside of his dress. He held the red curly wig between loose fingers. What could I do? I unclenched the handle and let the door shut behind me. The latch clicked back in to place as it closed. The telephone started ringing. I ignored it and walked down the hallway to the kitchen.

I heard him crying. I poured a drink. I felt like vodka but we only had some green stuff, Verdin I think it was called; Liora dropped it off last time she came back from Mexico. I poured a large glass and left the bottle open on the kitchen table.

I guess I felt calm. But I felt like I was just playing a role. I tried to work myself up to get all indignant — but I couldn’t. The truth? I suppose I felt relieved. The marriage had been ceremony and circumstance for years. At least now, we could both get on with things. Poor old Eli. And the dress kind of suited him really, though the wig was like a badly fitted sheitel. Well, the dress looked better on him than it did on me anyway. He had the ankles for it. Mine always seemed to be swollen and I have a nasty red blotch just below the back of my knee. I have big feet.

It was actually Liora who had first showed me the pictures. She’d found them on some special website. Though what she was doing on the internet, I’ll never know. The woman can barely make instant coffee by herself. Now, I was a little surprised when she first showed me. I didn’t let on though. I played stoic. She said she felt sorry for me and she hugged me. I think she was enjoying herself. Still, who can blame her?

I knew I’d have to wait for Eli. If I shouted at him, things would just get worse. I poured the rest of the green stuff in the glass and took some matzah ball soup out of the fridge. I lit a cigarette and turned the radio on. The crackling sound of the Irving Aaronson orchestra spat out. I admit I danced a little that evening as I heated the soup up on the stove.

I waited but he was still crying at midnight. I left the house and took a cab to my sister’s. The police found him the next morning. They said he’d hanged himself.

I decided in the end to keep the pictures that Liora had found. They were the only ones I had where Eli was actually smiling.

David Rees-Thomas is originally from Wales and currently resides in Japan. As well as his own writing which has appeared in various publications, he also does audio narration of other people’s stories for podcasts such as StarShipSofa and Transmissions From Beyond.

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