General Fiction posted September 8, 2016


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When your mother-in-law helps too much.

Helping Hand

by Maria Jose Garcia

Flash Fiction Story... Contest Winner 
'I was only trying to help.' It was my mother-in-law, Debbie. There were tears in her eyes. Crocodile tears, of course.

I had just got home to find she had replaced my perfectly new curtains with some hideous brownish drapes she had apparently sewn herself.

'You should have asked me first,' I retorted, unable to hide how angry I was.

This wasn't a one-off. Ever since her husband died, Debbie had been trying to help. Between commas. Yesterday, she decided to iron and burnt a hole in one of my favourite dresses. I wonder if it was really an accident...

'I should be dead like my Harry. That way I wouldn't bother you,' she sobbed, trying to make me feel guilty.

I didn't answer. I just left the room and went to the kitchen. Once there, I opened the fridge looking for some wine to calm myself down. There was none left.

'Debbie, where is the wine?'

'I have thrown it out. The Lord doesn't want us to drink spirits.'

'Where in the Bible have you read that?' I asked sarcastically.

I didn't wait for her to answer. I got the phone and walked out into the garden. I needed to talk to my husband.

When he picked up, I didn't even say hello.

'Your mother is getting on my last nerve.'

'I know, darling. But you have to remember she's old and alone.'

I didn't think I could take much more. I had to do something. Why couldn't Debbie's daughter take care of her? She said she was too busy, but so was I.

I had a terrible headache, so I went up to my room. I'd try to sleep for a while and then I'd be able to think more clearly.

I must have dozed off, because when I woke up an hour had passed. I heard some strange noises coming from the living room.

I went downstairs and was about to have a heart attack. Debbie had moved all the furniture around.

'How do you like it?' she asked me.

'I don't like it at all. It was perfect the way it was before,' I shouted.

'I was just trying to help. You see, I should die.'

'Indeed,' I whispered so that she couldn't hear me.

It took me an hour to rearrange the furniture. When I finished, I was exhausted. While I worked, Debbie watched me and cried.

The next morning, when I went down to the kitchen, I found Debbie had made me breakfast. Maybe I had been too hard on her.

'Thanks,' I said.

She smiled at me sweetly. I left for work half an hour later, my stomach full and my heart much lighter.

When I got back home in the afternoon, I got another big shock. All my shelves were empty and there were two huge piles of books on the coffee table.

'What are you doing, Debbie?'

'I'm only trying to help...'

'Help how exactly?'

'I've separated your books into two piles. The ones the Lord approves of and the sinful ones.'

Till then I had never known some of my books were sinful...

This had gone too far. Something had to be done.

'Let's go to the kitchen to drink some coffee and talk, Debbie,' I said.

I heated water for both of us. Then I reached below the sink and found what I was looking for. A little sachet of weed killer. I opened it and added some to Debbie's coffee.

'How much sugar do you want?'

'Three spoonfuls.'

I hoped the sugar would hide the taste of the poison.

I gave Debbie her mug and sat opposite her.

'You know I love you, Mary,' she said. 'I'm sorry if I have upset you. I'm just trying to be a guiding hand.'

I watched her as she sipped her coffee. She didn't seem to notice anything strange. After a while, however, her eyes opened wide.

'I feel terrible. What... what...?'

She looked at me, sitting there and smiling, and immediately realized what had happened.

'You have poisoned me? After everything I've done for you?'

'Well, Debbie. You said you wanted to die and I decided to give you a hand. As you often say, I was just trying to help.'



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© Copyright 2017. Maria Jose Garcia All rights reserved.
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