The Hiker

by E.V. Jacob on October 4, 2012

Another little piece of juvenilia–I’m sorry I don’t have anything that wasn’t written when I was sixteen.  Next week, you will get something more recent.  For now, have fun enjoying my mad teenage writing skillz.

“Up this way,” I told her.  She had been hesitant all morning; she had almost refused to come.

“Honey, I don’t feel good.  Can’t we turn back?  It’s getting late,” she protested as she walked along beside me.

“It’s just a little further, I promise.”  I reassured her, “You won’t want to miss the sunset – it’s beautiful.”

My wife nodded and continued to follow me.

I suspect she knew all along, maybe she thought she was crazy.  Or perhaps she told herself she was overreacting.  Either way she was wrong.

People would do good to learn to trust their gut instincts.

For example, I was more than happy to follow my feelings and do what I felt was right.  That’s how I’d lived my entire life.  It had worked rather well for the past forty years, so I felt confident in assuming it was the right way to operate.

Of course, every method has its flaws, however small they are.

Like marrying the woman in the first place; my gut instinct had told me at the time that it was a good idea.  She was young and naïve, and came from an incredibly rich family.  I had singled her out for that exact reason, in fact.  I never let her know that, of course, but the only reason I ever even spoke to her was her inheritance.  I’d been invited to the dinner party by a successful lawyer friend of mine.  I probably wouldn’t have gone, but he’d mentioned to me the lovely young heiress who would be attending, so naturally I had to make an appearance.

When we’d met, I’d pretended to have no idea who she was.  We’d talked, I’d charmed her, shown interest in the things I knew she enjoyed.  She asked me if I wanted to go somewhere else, so we’d left the party and gone to her place.  In the tradition of being a perfect gentleman, I’d refused to sleep with her.  Instead, we’d stayed awake all night talking.  Naturally, she’d fallen for me completely.  I continued to play at the respectful and loving man, I wrote her love letters, bought her flowers, cooked her dinner, and even told her about my painful and tortured childhood (which was quite happy, in truth).

She’d fallen for the entire act.  Women, such romantics.

We’d married one year after meeting, and as soon as the honeymoon was over, I began to drop the little act.  My princess had thought she’d married her prince, but I was growing tired of acting out the part of perfect husband.  The woman noticed changes in my behavior, but she was young and kept making excuses for me.  It was almost too easy, really.

The problem came when my dear wife’s parents died.  Their deaths had been my obsession, the whole point of my marriage.  Her family fortune had been my white whale – and she’d been left with none of it.

Marrying me had never sat well with that woman’s parents.  I never thought it would lose me her share of the inheritance, though.  It all went to her younger brother, who took over the family business and with it all the money.

Wasted!  Ten years of my life – thrown away.  Given to a ditzy, spoiled brat and for what?  I had been willing to put up with her if it would get me riches beyond my wildest dreams, but to end up with nothing?  To have spent a decade sucking up to my prudent in-laws and babying my selfish wife with no reward?

I had earned this.  This was my right as a husband, to kill my useless wife.

“Honey, how much farther?”

I despise when she calls me “honey”, but I responded lovingly.  “Just a little bit, I promise, you’ll love it.”

This was a well-thought-out plan: we go for a hike, she slips and falls to her death, I come back, broken hearted and in shock.  At the very least I’d get her insurance money.  It wasn’t quite the compensation I’d been hoping for, but I was happy to take the consolation prize.

I’d take whatever option available that removed her from my life.

When we reached the peak, I planned to hold her, stand behind her, tell her how much I loved her and how happy she made me.  I’d stand with her for a while, and then, as the sun set and the darkness fell, I’d push her over the edge.

I’d tell the authorities that she’d gone too close to the end of the cliff.  That I had called to her, “Sweetheart, step back a bit, you’re making me nervous.”

I’d tell them that she had turned to tell me not to worry and that at that exact moment, she’d moved only slightly, she’d slipped on a rock.

Then I’d say that I myself had almost gone over the edge trying to catch her hand as she fell.  I’d tremble as I recounted her cry of terror, the shrill scream of a woman who knows that she is doomed.  At that point, I’d collapse into a fit of sobs, unable to walk myself away, and they’d support me and have me sit in the back seat of the police car and give me a paper cup full of coffee.  They’d take me back to the station for a proper questioning, and of course they’d be suspicious of me, seeing as we’d had our differences, but I would tell them that each couple has their problems, and that despite our little troubles, I loved my wife deeply and wasn’t sure if I could go on without her.  I’d even tell them that I blamed myself deep down – that she hadn’t wanted to go for the hike at all, and that I’d told her she had to see the sunset from that vantage point.  My poor, dear beloved wife.

Boo hoo hoo.

We were approaching the top of the mountain.

I stepped up ahead of her and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air.  The sunset really was magnificent from the peak.

I heard my wife gasp softly behind me, “It’s beautiful.”

“Like you,” I said, still playing at the sweet husband.  Ever since I’d decided to kill her, I’d slipped slightly back into the old act of complete adoration.

I reached out to pull her close to me, but she wandered to one side and stood, staring outward.

“Darling, don’t stand too close to the edge.  You might fall.” I said, hardly concealing my glee.

She looked nervous, she had been nervous the whole day.

Yes, yes she felt it.

“Darling,” I repeated, moving towards her.  To my shock, the woman flinched and turned to face me.  She was pale and shaking, though it could have been the cold.

“What’s the matter, my dear?” I sneered, taking another step towards her.  My plan had been to play at being loving till the very end, but it was much too tempting to scare her.  I wanted my wife to look at me with terror in her eyes.  Just once, I wanted her to see what I really was.

She did.

As I moved toward her, she continued to back away.  She was dangerously close to the perimeter now.  I was about to reached out to push her, but at that precise moment, the idiot woman took yet another step and really did slip on some loose gravel.

“NO!” I cried out as she went spiraling off the side of the cliff.  Her scream was deafening.  I threw out my hands to catch her, but she had gone beyond my reach, shrieking wildly the whole way.

“NO!”  I screamed again.

Her cry continued, fading slowly as she fell the two hundred foot drop.  I couldn’t hear the moment of impact, nor could I see it, though I peered over the side of the mountain.  I only knew she had hit when her distant cry was abruptly cut off.  The darkness after sunset was gathering all around me.  Shaking with astonishment, I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialed 9-1-1.  Still trembling, I explained to the operator that my wife had slipped and fallen off the mountain top.  I told her where we were, she told me to climb back down the mountain and wait at the side of the road for the police.

I felt sick.  The entire hike back down, I was haunted by that scream.

How in the world…?

I lost it halfway down the path and let out a roar of rage.

How dare she?  How dare she?!  That woman!  That horrible, evil, selfish woman!  She puts me through ten years of hell and then has the audacity to die?  Die by accident?  It was my right!  My privilege!  My job!  Had I planned for nothing?  Had I lost sleep making sure that my plan had no flaws, only to have her die on accident?

I finished up with my little tantrum and made my way all the way to the road.  The NDF car arrived only a few moments after I’d seated myself on a boulder.  An ambulance followed.  I hardly paid them any mind, for I was still steaming about the nerve of that sickening woman.  Just the very thought of her, slipping on accident, not giving me that small satisfaction of killing her.

I gave my report in a daze.  I had planned to be in tears but I simply couldn’t muster the strength at that moment.

At home that night, I managed to get past the fact that I hadn’t been her killer and made myself a nice dinner.  Perhaps I hadn’t been able to push her over the edge, perhaps it had truly been an accident, rather than appearing to have been an accident, but she was still dead.  I would still get that wonderful insurance money, and I was still free.

I selected my finest Cabernet and was just about to pour myself a glass when I heard a knock on my door.  I expected one of her well-to-do friends had heard the news and wanted to confirm its truth for gossiping purposes.  Upon opening the door, however, I found two police officers, handcuffs at the ready.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Sir, I’m afraid you’re under arrest for suspected murder.”

I stared blankly, still holding my Cabernet in one hand, the empty glass in the other.

“What?” I whispered.

The first officer grabbed my hands and twisted them behind my back while the second snapped the handcuffs around my wrists.  He droned on about my rights, ignoring my protests completely.

“Why are you arresting me?  I told you, she slipped!  You can’t just arrest people like this!  What’s the matter with you?  Stop it!” I shouted as they took my wine away and pulled me down to the police car.

“We received information from a friend of the deceased.  Said she suspected you of plotting to kill your wife–apparently, your wife had kept a journal about you at her friend’s house, and has been talking about this for months to her brother and close friends.”

“That’s ridiculous!  I didn’t kill her!” I cried, but my outrage was ignored all the way to the police station.

  • Dark Opera

    Nice! I very much like the inner dialogue. It flows very well. “prudent in-laws” was a nice touch

    • Elena Jacob

      Haha thank you! I always cringe a little, putting these old pieces up–glad to hear it being well-received :D

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