Homework, in progress from Stephen King’s book “On Writing.”
He must get up, run, but he can’t move.
The last step creaks, jolting Dick to his feet.
“Jane?” he asks.
“Jane,” Dick says, “what are you doing here?”
“I missed you, Dickie,” Jane whispers.
Dick instinctively moves behind the dining room table. “You’re not allowed to be here, Jane,” Dick replies.
“I missed you, Dickie. I missed you a lot.”
Dick sees the knife. He circles the table, moving as far away from his ex as possible.
“It wasn’t nice, what you did to me,” Jane says. “You took Nell away from me. Took my house away from me. Had me locked up in… that place.”
Jane circles the table too. The knife tip scrapes the wood.
“That… place, Dickie. Do you know how they make you shit in that place, Dickie? You shit right out in front of everyone. Like an animal. Do I look like a fucking animal, Dickie?” Jane growls.
Yes, Dick thought. Yes, dear God, you look like an animal. But he didn’t dare say it out loud. “You don’t look like an animal, Jane. You look beautiful.”
“Fucking liar!” Jane shrieks, slashing at the air. “You’re full of shit, Dickie!”
“Mommy…?” Nell asks, frozen at the top of the stairs.
“Nell! Oh baby, come to Mommy!” Jane says turning toward her daughter’s voice.
Dick’s world slows down and he steps outside of himself. Old scars flare the pain of the past roars back. The last time the three of them were in a room together a judge was sentencing his wife to 20 years without parole for nearly beating him to death with a bat while he slept. The doctors had to tell Dick what happened after he wakes from surgery to repair his fractured skull. His parents had to tell Dick that Nell saw it all.
Her daughter’s words distract Jane, and Dick snaps into himself. He’s got one chance. The tea.
Dick grabs the pot of tea from the counter and flings it at his ex-wife, striking her in the head with a thud.
Jane drops to all fours screaming in agony as her skin and hair melt together.
Nell. The stairs. Dick leaps up the steps to Nell, “Honey, let’s go.”
“Daddy…?” Nell repeats. “Mommy…?”
“Nell, we need to get going, Mommy is sick and we need to get help,” Dick doesn’t mention, doesn’t know who the help is for.
Below, Jane is clawing back up to her feet, hands feeling for the knife. It’s too close, they need to escape.
Dick lifts Nell over his shoulder and descends, three steps at a time. At the bottom of the stairs, his ex-wife snags a piece of his shirt.