She didn’t know it- she was never told or taught. But she’d discovered it like everything else she knew. There was simply a limit to how much one could take. Everyone was different and there was no way to measure what would mark one’s capacity. But she’d reached hers.
She didn’t feel it coming, she thought the pain would never end. But one day she’d woken up, prepared for the drudgery her life had become- and it was gone. It simply wasn’t anymore. She felt nothing. There was no relief, no release. There was just an empty space where her emotions had once been.
Love, jealousy, desperation, anger and the need for revenge- none of these drove her actions. She performed them with the same simple meticulous calculations she’d come to be known for in everything she did. But as she moved through the motions in preparation for the biggest holiday she felt none of strains that had previously defined the time. She simply did, performed, executed.
The meal was perfect- not only in preparation but presentation. And the house looked as beautiful as it ever had. More so because of the quiet that fell over the scene when the meal was finished.
She went through the house room by room, making sure everything was in order. The clothes hung in the closet like sterile instruments. The bed clothes were tucked in place. Each item place perfectly. All was immaculate.
Downstairs the large room beckoned. She sat there for a time, watching the lights glow softly from the tree. The holly hanging over the mantle place was dark and still. The colors of the table spread blended together- each item placed so as to convey an overall wholeness. The empty faces of her company were the only objects out of place. But they would be gone soon.
She looked into her husband’s eyes, now large and unfocused. The frothy drool coming from the corner of his mouth reflected the candle light from the table, letting her know the job was done. His mouth would emit no more lies. She looked at him, waiting to feel something- one of the familiar emotions that had been the last years of their marriage. But the empty space remained.
His parents evoked a similar lack of response, their silence deepening the calm of the scene. There would be no more manipulations, criticisms, evaluations of her shortcoming as the wife of their perfect son. As she looked at them feeling nothing she knew they would not be missed. The world would move on without them. And although it might not be a better world, she knew that at least she would no longer be a part of the game.
She took one last look around the picturesque home that had been the lie of her existence and sighed. Not from regret, nor loss, nor anything else that might mark such a departure. She sighed because it fit the scene, which was perfect.
As she locked the door behind her the flames illuminated the windows. It would soon be the brightest Christmas scene on the block. And although the charred ruins would mar the perfection of the scene the bodies would be ash. Her memories would have nothing real to connect with.
As she walked down the dark street the falling snow threatened to chill her. But behind her the fire was spreading, crackling to life as it fed on the gas that had ignited it. She carried the warmth of it with her.