All it might have taken was a simple 'thank you.'
Mary let out a loud huff. She waddled over to the lounge chair and collapsed.
Kay sat nearby with her book up to her nose and pretended to be reading. If she glanced at her sister for even a second, Mary would order her to do something.
“Are you at a stopping place?” Mary asked in a gravelly voice that sounded as if she’d been sleeping for hours.
Kay turned a page. Yes, she could stop, but why should she? This marked the first time in two weeks that she’d indulged in a little pleasure reading.
Another loud huff sounded in the vicinity of Mary. How was a person supposed to concentrate when Mary made so much noise? Kay kept reading.
“Kay, are you at a stopping place?” This time Mary’s voice echoed clear without the sickly affections.
Kay looked up. “I am now.”
“Good, I need you to get my medicine. It’s on the counter in the kitchen by the sink. I feel a spell coming on any minute.”
A spell coming on? When was a spell not coming on? Kay got up. She placed the book on the little table by the lounge chair. A soft breeze turned the page. “You’ll lose your place,” Mary said. “Put a bookmark in. Don’t lay it flat. It will ruin the binding. When you go in for my medicine, you can get a bookmark in the desk drawer.” She wiped sweat from her face and neck.
Kay walked inside. Every cell in her body wanted to scream. She’d been bossed around by Mary her entire life. Growing up, Kay waited on her sister hand and foot. She’d run down the stairs and tell their mom, “Mary wants a glass of water.” Mom always asked, “Why can’t the princess get it herself?” Kay replied each time, “She says she doesn’t feel well.”
Inside the small condo, Kay found the medicine exactly where Mary said it would be. She lifted two pills, Mary’s usual dose, filled a glass with three cubes of ice and returned to the patio.
“You didn’t bring the pad. You know I have to record the medicine on the pad. Go back and get the pad.” She patted more sweat off her upper lip.
On the way back, Kay wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn’t chosen to live with her sister. She imagined herself in a big house with several children and a husband. Kay had a chance for that kind of life, but she’d turned it down. Or, rather Mary did it for her.
Kay handed Mary the pad and pencil. Mary shoved the water glass at her. “I need more than this to take two pills.”
When Hank had asked Kay to marry him, Kay bubbled with joy. She raced home to tell her sister. “He’ll move in here, of course,” Mary responded. She was watching her daily soap opera and hadn’t even muted the sound.
Kay had not thought about where they’d live. Mary and Kay had resided together ever since their parents were killed in an automobile accident ten years previously. Mary still ordered Kay around like a slave, but Kay always thought she’d eventually move away.
“I think we will find our own place,” Kay had said. But, Mary burst out laughing. “How will you do that? I have all the money. You either live here with him or you’ll be penniless.”
That was when Kay had made the biggest mistake of her life. She told Hank what Mary had said. He refused and later ended the relationship.
Last week, Kay celebrated her 54th birthday alone in her room. Mary didn’t even remember.
“Kay, what in the world are you doing? Where’s my water?” Mary’s voice travelled far when she wanted it to.
Kay refilled the water glass along with the contents of the syringe and added the requisite number of ice cubes.
All her life Kay did what Mary wanted. Last year Kay decided to make some changes. She had begun syphoning money out of the bank account. Mrs. Warner at the bank knew her and knew how Mary treated her. She helped Kay open her own account. It had grown steadily. Kay was ready.
Back on the patio, Kay handed the glass to Mary and stood there.
“Well, what do you want?”
Kay stared her sister in the face. “I want you to say ‘thank you.’”
“Thank you for what?”
Kay shrugged. “For everything. But, if you want me to be specific, for the glass of water I just handed you.”
Mary burst into a fit of laughter, her heavy breasts bouncing up and down.
“That really has been all I’ve ever wanted from you, Mary. Just a word of gratitude. A simple thank you.”
Kay turned and walked back into the condo. She gathered her few things and put them in the suitcase she’d bought last week at Wal-Mart.
Mary screamed in a choking voice. “Kay, get out here now… something’s… wrong with me.” From everything Kay had read it wouldn’t take long; it would be fast.
Kay walked out the front door, down the street and caught the bus to Nashville, a city she’d always wanted to visit.
Check out the new book trailer for Joan Curtis's newest release, e-Murderer: A Jenna Scali Mystery.