Mike was a very happy man. He had everything he could want in life. A great job, an amazing house and to top it all a perfect new wife. Mike had been married for 3 months and they were the best months of his life. Sandra and mike spent as much time as they could together. This meant mike had to slack off a little work but that was fine with him. He rather looked forward to the time he could spend with his wife. Sandra according to him was utter perfection. Sweet, smart, caring and very good looking to boot. Things couldn't get any better. A year passed by blissfully. Small little cracks started showing up in the perfect picture. Tiny cracks zig zagging all over it. The perfect wife became a little nagging the minute he came home late. She became possessive to the extent that she wanted to map every minute of his day. 'What did you do today?' became 'who did you do today?' 'Who were you messing around with' ' who is that girl who keeps calling’? It got progressively worse. Sandra was convinced that mike was screwing around with that 'two bit bimbo' of a secretary. Things got worse as the year turned into two. Mike preferred to stay at work and spend as little time as he could with Sandra. Slacking off? He took on more work than his share in a bid to stay away from his troubled home. One day suddenly Sandra calls him at office. She’s positively brimming with excitement. She announces to mike that she's pregnant! That it’s the best day of her life. Mike is ecstatic. They had been trying for one for a year now. Maybe things will be easier now, he thought. It was the frustration of Sandra unable to get pregnant that had screwed things up between them. And so it was. For a while things got back to perfect or as close to perfect as it could. Good enough for government work, mike figured. Then little Nate was born. Sandra always wanted a girl and mike a boy. They were both overjoyed at the birth of the child. But the girl was always playing on Sandra’s mind. Things rapidly got worse. Sandra wouldn’t feed the boy. She said mike had tricked her. This wasn't her child. She gave birth to a baby girl. Mike had replaced her with this abomination. She screamed and ranted. Things went from bad to worse. She went back to her jealous, possessive, suspecting self. Fights became common again, an everyday affair. Word lashing turned physical. Mike would come to office with scratches on his arms or a bruise on his temple. 'I fell down the stairs' 'I walked into a door, stupid me' became often used lines. Mike wanted the marriage to work. Despite everything, he wanted it to work. Growing up as a single child he had seen the devastating effects of being brought up by a single parent. He dint want Nate to go through that. So he tried and he tried to make the marriage work. To look at the bright side of things (which was Nate) and let the abuse slide off. One day mike came home early from work and took Nate out to the playground to play. They came home exhausted but delighted after a couple of hours on the playground. They found Sandra waiting at the door. She had an expression of benign calm on her face. Mike did not trust that expression, it meant she was about to explode. He asked Nate to go to his room and clean up. Nate happily oblivious of his mother’s nature went clomping up the stairs to his room. Unfortunately he also dragged in clomps of dirt into the hallway. That's all that was required to set Sandra off. She hollered for Nate to come back down and clean up his mess right that second. As Nate came down, he held him by the collar and shook him roughly, shouting continuously about how she wasn't the servant of the house and that if Nate wanted to stay here, he better pick up his mess. Then she rapped him on the side of his head. It wasn’t a soft blow. It was an all out smack. Nate stumbled and fell on his ass, a trickle of blood coming out of his nose Mike ran to Nate, picking him up. For the first time in his married life, mike slapped Sandra. It was hard enough to leave a red imprint of mike's hand on Sandra’s cheek, but mike wished it would have been harder. He turned around and took Nate upstairs to get cleaned up.
Mike got a divorce the next day and moved out of the house with Nate in tow. He felt better than he had in years. He felt free of the shadow that Sandra was on his life. Things would have been normal if not for Sandra’s regular badgering over the phone, or her letters, or the few times that she turned up at the house. It always started with the begging, then the emotional cajoling and always ended with her shouting and ranting. It was always worse after Sandra had had a few drinks. Mike could always tell. That slight slur in her voice was a giveaway. Mike had himself a bonafide stalker. But Sandra always kept her distance, and mike let her be. The occasional rants helped remind him what a life he had been living previously.
One day mike's colleague, Rita, someone who he had always liked asked him out to dinner. Mike reluctantly agreed, he figured he can't keep running away from women just because one of them was bad.
So that evening, he dressed up to take Rita out to dinner. Nothing fancy, just an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. He arranged for a sitter for Nate and left after giving her explicit instructions that she wasn't to let anyone into the apartment. Anyone. Even after the bewildered look on the sitters face, he pressed her not to let anyone, even her mom, especially her mom in.
He picked Rita up and they had a perfectly wonderful time at dinner. They went to a place called lino's deli. Bright lighted interiors with a bar at the back. Chrome tables with comfy sofas. They were through half a bottle of wine and their meat ball spaghetti before mike realized that he was having a great time in he couldn't remember how long. Rita he discovered was a very witty and charming girl. They ordered for their desserts, still laughing about a colleague who had stapled his hand to pages he was stapling. That's when things started going horribly wrong. He thought he had glimpsed someone resembling Sandra outside passing by the window a couple of times, but had given it up as paranoia after living with that woman for 4 years. But now that someone was running in from the kitchen with a big steak knife towards them. She was pushing people out of the way and skipping over chairs without stopping. A snarl writ on her face from which her insanity was apparent to all to see. She was yelling his name over and over. The distorted features of her face were beyond recognition. Mike recognized her at the last minute and put himself between her and Rita. It was good that he reacted when he did. He saw the knife arcing down in slow motion, its glittering edge seemed impossibly thin and sharp. He put himself in its path and felt an agonizing pain in his shoulder. It felt as if someone had poured lighter fluid all over his shoulder and set it on fire. Everything flashed bright, too bright, at that moment. Then he blacked out. He could vaguely remember Rita screaming and someone tacking Sandra. He woke up a day later at the hospital. Lying in bed he was told by the doctors that he had lost a lot of blood but praise the almighty that the knife missed every vital organ and artery. It had been stopped by his rib on its downward arc. He was lucky the doctor said. If I was lucky I wouldn't have gotten stabbed in the first place, he thought. He was informed that his ex wife had been taken into custody immediately after his attack and would mostly be confined to a mental institution for treatment. For now his son was waiting outside to see him. The little tyke had been sitting outside waiting for half a day. He wouldn't even go get a free ice-cream cone from the cafeteria, the doctor said and smiling ushered Nate in. A big grin split Nate’s tear streaked face seeing his father awake. He ran and hugged mike tightly, even though t hurt like hell, mike hugged him back ferociously. It'll all be ok, it's over, he kept whispering to Nate.
Sandra was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and remanded in the St. Catherine mental institute for her jail term of 3 years without the possibility of parole.
Things got back to normal for mike after that. Though Rita was supportive, she maintained her distance. The incidence had terrified her more than she let on. Mike was ok with that. He had Nate and life went on. A year after the incident, mike had just dropped off his son at a friend’s birthday party and returned home for a well deserved undisturbed rest. He had shifted into his parent’s home after the attack and had stayed on. Today the house was empty, his parents had gone off to Hawaii for the week and he was all alone on the Saturday afternoon. As he entered his house he felt uneasy. Something was wrong, he just couldn't pinpoint what. The hair on the back of his neck were standing up. He scolded himself for being paranoid. It's just the empty house he said to himself. He walked down the hallway into the kitchen and put a kettle to boil. Some herbal tea might sooth his frayed nerves. This is what you get for living with a psycho for 4 years, he said out aloud, jumping at the slightest sound. While the water was boiling he walked into the den switching on the TV. He flipped past the channels to the news. Something caught his eye. On the two o'clock breaking news the lead story was a breakout at a mental institution. An inmate had broken out of the St Catherine’s home for troubled women killing one guard and injuring two others. No name was provided. But it dint need to be, mike knew just who it was. It was her perfume that he had smelled on the way in. Her damn flowery perfume lingering in the doorway as she must have walked in. How did she find me? How did she get in!
Mike heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Slow and deliberate.
'Hello, darling' he called out as Sandra steppes into the room.
'How are you mike dear' cooed Sandra,’ miss me terribly?'
'You missed the last time,' said mike, 'here to finish the job?'
'Is that how you think of me now? You know how much I love you!' Sandra said.' but seeing you with that no good slut, I just couldn't wait in the sidelines and watch anymore'
'So you tried to stab me'
'It was her who I was after, not you! You just got in the way. You shouldn’t have done that, risking your life for that witch.'
Mike was surprised how his oncoming death didn't faze him. He should have been trembling right now, probably pissing his pants and here he was talking to his murderer as if it was just another day after work. But he felt no fear. He had lived in fear for the past year, now he just didn't give a shit. And if she had come to get him, he would take her down with him.
'So why did you break out of the mental hospital?' asked mike.
'To be with you' replied Sandra 'forever.'
That's when mike decided that his chances of surviving this were bleak. Whatever little sanity that had been his ex wife, had disappeared completely. He could see that in the manic gleam of her eyes. Sandra was officially off her rocker. Now he had to make sure that Nate was ok. That he wouldn't get hurt in this. Mike looked around to see what he could use and found the prospects were zero. Against someone who is potentially mad and violent to boot, his living room provided very little in terms of defense. Well you don't expect a killer to walk into your living room, he thought. Let's do what they do in the movies. Distract with words.
'How have you been?' asked mike
'Pretty good except the point that I was locked up in a mental Asylum because of you.' came the reply.
'You really can't blame me, can you' mike retorted
' Well what's past is past, now I'm back, we can be together forever' said Sandra.
'how about some tea' mike said as he heard the kettle whistling.’ a little green tea won't hurt I'm sure'
'Ahh yes, has been a long long day' sighed sandra.'green tea really wouldn't hurt'
And they both walked into the kitchen.
That evening Nate’s friend Eric’s mom came to drop him home. She found the door unlocked. Going into the kitchen she found mike, or what remained of mike. His face had been burnt beyond recognition. His wrists had been slit. And on the counter written in blood, one word SANDRA!
The police when called in found no evidence of a second person in the house. It seemed mike who suffered from chronic depression after the death of his wife at child birth, had finally committed suicide. 'A sorry end to a sorry tale' said the policeman in charge. Nate has been put under child care services. Neighbors when consulted reported that there would often be noises heard from the house while no one was seen entering or leaving the place. When contacted, Rita said that mike was delusional and prone to self infliction. She recounts how he stabbed himself the day they went out to dinner. She says she stayed away from him from that day. Nate claims that his father was his mother. The child seems to have a lot of mental trauma. Mike was buried next to his wife on the family plot.

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