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Pie by Wiebo Grobler

Anne sat at the kitchen table and absently stared out the window while she chewed on her

cheek. Her left hand was inside her cardigan pocket. Her fingers idly played with the string of

pearls inside and she counted each individual bead like a rosary, under her breath. There were

fifty-four.

It was a present from Ben for their twenty fifth wedding anniversary. The shrill ring

of the doorbell made her jerk and clamp down on the pearls and her cheek. The metal tang of

blood hit her tongue.

She sighed, pushed herself up and slowly walked to the door. In the hallway she

caught a whiff of Ben’s cologne and tears sprang unbidden to her eyes. She clenched her jaw,

angry with herself, and wiped a sleeve across her eyes. She peered through the peephole and

took a deep breath before unlocking the door.

“Gladys. Come in.”

“Hello, Anne dear.” Gladys wrapped her arms around Anne and gave her a squeeze.

Anne tensed before slowly relaxing into the hug.

Gladys gently pushed her friend back, kept her hands on her shoulders and stared into

Anne’s eyes. Anne looked exhausted.

“I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to come around. I’ve been…indisposed. How are

you holding up?”

Anne shrugged and moved to shut the door. “I’m taking each day as it comes.”

“I’m still in shock. It was so sudden; I only spoke to Ben last week.” Gladys wiped at

her eyes.

Anne nodded. “Come, I’ll make us some tea.”

“Oh, lovely.” Gladys followed Anne to the small wooden table in the kitchen by the

window. The view from the twelfth floor was breath-taking. The park below was a

kaleidoscope of burnt oranges and muted browns.

Anne switched on the stove and stuck the kettle on the hotplate. Gladys unbuttoned

her coat, removed her scarf and hung them off the back of her chair. Anne’s eyes fell to the

string of pearls around Gladys’ neck. A twin to her own.

The kettle started spitting boiling water from its nozzle. Anne grabbed the handle and

she lifted it from the stove. The spilt water sizzled on the hot plate. Tiny droplets of water

danced and jumped to their deaths across the hot surface down to the floor.

Gladys smiled as Anne walked over with the kettle tightly clutched in her right hand.

She carefully poured the water into two waiting cups.

“Can I interest you in some pie? It’s almond and pecan,” Anne asked.

“I’m not going to say no. You know I love your baking, and we’re both past the age

where we need to watch our figures.”

Anne’s smile didn’t reach her eyes. She took a plate from the fridge. She’d already

placed a knife on the table earlier. Gladys stirred her tea. Her hair was in a bun, the back of

her neck exposed. Anne picked up the knife. Good, sharp steel. Her hand was shaking.

“Here, let me help.” Gladys took the knife from Anne’s hand, leaned over and cut

them two generous portions each.

Anne looked at the string of pearls dangling in front of her. I bet there’s fifty-four.

Gladys placed one piece of pie in front of Anne and sat back down.

“It looks lovely, Annie. Thank you.”

Anne sat down, her elbow on the table and her chin cupped in her hand. Two weeks

had passed since she discovered the affair. Shortly afterwards, Ben died. Forty years of

marriage, and for twenty of those she had shared him with her best friend.

“It’s very bitter, dear,” Gladys said, taking a sip of tea.

She’d already eaten more than half. Her face was turning crimson, and she fanned

herself with a kerchief.

“It’s the crushed apricot kernels,” Anne said, as she absently stared out the window.

“Apricot... kernels...?” Gladys croaked.

“Yes. The cyanide only gets released if you crush them.”

“Cyanide?” Gladys tried to stand, but collapsed onto the floor, one hand clutched at

her stomach as the other clawed at the dress buttons around her throat. She only managed to

break the necklace and the pearls scattered and rolled across the floor like tiny eyeballs.

“Yes DEAR.” Anne dropped a bundle of envelopes tied with a shoelace near Gladys'

face. “I was organising Ben’s things - you know that spring clean you recommended - and

came across some interesting letters. Ben told me everything.”

Gladys couldn’t respond. Her eyes were frantic and bulging; her breath came in

short, erratic gasps.

Anne snorted, shook her head and sat back down by the table, stirred sugar into her

tea and pushed her plate of pie away. The spoon clinked off the sides with each stir.

Gladys stopped moving and Anne’s eyes shifted down to her body.

“Funny...” Anne said taking a sip, “Ben didn’t care for the taste either.”

Originally Published by Medusa Laughs Press 2018

Born in South-Africa and raised in a small farming community, Wiebo only had his imagination to keep him occupied, till he discovered the magic of books.

He fell in love with the characters within from an early age. Soon he began to create his own worlds and stories in his head. These stories developed voices, which clamoured to be heard. So, he writes.

Shortlisted for his Flash Fiction and Poetry for the Fish Publishing Prize he had various stories published in Molotov Lit, National Flash Fiction Day, Reflex Fiction and more.

Twitter: @Wiebog

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