Richard and I had been married for twenty years and I was happy. Life had treated me well.
My husband earned a good salary, we had a huge house in New Jersey and often travelled abroad. We hadn’t been able to have kids, but I’d say that was my only regret.
I was never bored, I had my friends and my hobbies. I loved gardening and writing. I went shopping once a week or so to buy shoes and dresses I didn’t need and I helped in a soup kitchen on Saturdays.
But then something changed. Richard changed… He started working longer hours and became distant.
After a while, I realized he was having an affair. I wondered how I had become such a cliche. The rich middle-aged woman betrayed by her husband. I also wondered who she was. A younger woman? A prettier one?
One day, we were sitting at the table silently and I couldn’t take it any more. We used to chat non-stop, about this and that, about his day and mine… I decided I had to confront him if I didn’t want to go crazy.
‘What’s wrong, Richard?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘We hardly ever talk anymore. We don’t do anything together.’
‘I guess we are getting old.’
‘We’re not old. We’re fifty.’
We stared at each other. Tension filled the room.
‘So you know…’
‘I guess… You’re having an affair, aren’t you?’
‘Yes. And she’s pregnant. I’m going to be a dad,’ he said. Then he started laughing. It was a haunting, mirthless laugh.
He hadn’t even bothered to deny it. I found that hurtful…
‘Do you love her?’
‘What about us? All the years we’ve spent together?’
‘Things change. People grow,’ he said.
Richard started sleeping in the guest room that very day. We lived like two strangers, never crossing a word.
Three days later, Richard came into the dining room and sat opposite me.
‘I want a divorce,’ he said.
‘You know I’m a Catholic. I don’t believe in divorce.’
‘Why do you have to be so stubborn? We’d both be happier. You’d be able to flirt with the pool boy to your heart’s content.’
I didn’t answer and after a while he left. I hardly remember the days that followed. The house felt too big and the hours stretched ahead of me like menacing shadows.
But then, one Friday, a few weeks later, while I was sitting on the porch, Richard brought me a cup of tea.
‘Why don’t you drink this, Amada? It’ll do you good,’ he said.
I placed the tea on my lap and took a sip. It tasted acrid and it burned my tongue. And then I understood the smell of bitter almonds that had invaded my nostrils a moment earlier…
I smiled at Richard and told him I needed to go to the toilet. Once there, I made myself vomit even though I had only drank a tiny bit.
My life was not in danger, but that drink of tea had made me feel different, it had changed who I was in a fundamental way. I was now full of hate for a man I had loved for years.
Richard also brought me tea the day after and when he was not looking I threw it into a potted plant in a corner of the porch.
I’m sure he was wondering why I didn’t drop dead.
What he didn’t know was that my hardened heart was planning its revenge.
On Sunday, I injected the roast with a new poison. One I had bought from a reliable source (Being rich has its advantages). It didn’t smell, it was tasteless and it left no trace.
I would get rid of my ungrateful husband and I wouldn’t have to go to prison… After all my suffering, I did deserve a happy ending.