Man of the house

by Ankita K

Mom: Please don’t do it, Mike.

Dad: What do you want me to do, then?!

Mom: Please don’t leave us. Let’s sit down and find a way out of it. I beg you.

Dad: This is the only way!

Mom(crying): Please, Mike, don’t do this to me.

Dad(angrily): Why do you have to be such a crybaby?

Mom(shocked): M-mike?

Dad(loudly): All you’ve ever done is sulk over in the kitchen and cry over how you burnt the food, or added too much salt to it, or mixed the coloured clothes with white ones in the laundry!

Mom(heartbroken): Mike…how can you say all that?

Dad: Oh! Are you going to cry over this, too?

Mom cries, burying her face in her palms.

Dad: Always with the sulking. You’ve been a touch-me-not girl from the moment I’ve known you.

Mom(Loudly): I’m not all that. I was just a naive girl, filled with so much love, having no clue what to do with it. All I knew was to give all that love to you, and then to our son, and then to our house. But if I knew how much you hated all this, I would’ve let you go years ago.

Dad: You couldn’t have. You never had the guts to stand up on your own feet or to provide our son with the protection he’d need. You don’t have what it takes to be the Man of the house.

Mom: I’m fine being the woman of my house, Mike. And you don’t know me. If I’d seen your true face back then, I would surely have gathered my courage.

Dad huffs under his breath.

Dad: All you can do is be delusional, Isa.

Mom: Shut up! I don’t need you in my life. I can protect myself and my son very well on my own.

Dad: Uh-huh, I see. So you don’t need me? Glad to hear that.

Mom: I-I don’t…

Dad: Fine by me. You and your son are on your own from now on.

Mom: Mike?

Dad turns his back towards Mom and me.

Dad: Be the woman of the house then, Isa.

Dad cocks his gun.

He walks up the stairs and enters the bedroom.

Mom’s face loses colour as she runs upstairs.

I follow her.

Mom: Mike! No. Please don’t do it. We can find another way. Let’s sit down and talk. Please.

She holds the door but Dad tries to shut it, his arm peeking out as the infection spreads to his palm’s veins and then to his fingers’. His nails go purple and then break out from the skin, revealing the clotted blood above his metacarpals.

Mom(crying): Mike, I love you, please…don’t do it to us. We need you. We can’t survive this without you.

Dad: Yes, you can. Take the gun out of my hand after fifteen minutes, you’ll need it the most… and shoot anyone in sight who looks even slightly infected.

He whispers ‘I love you’ before bolting the door.

Gunshot.

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