When Todd came home from work four nights later, he found Sondra sitting naked in front of the vanity mirror with a hairbrush suspended in midair, her head tilted to the side as though she had been frozen in time by some sinister spell.  She hadn’t even heard him come in, missed the flash of his image in the mirror behind her, and didn’t jump until he lowered his hand onto her shoulder and said, “Penny for your thoughts.”

The frigid statue she’d become quickly animated, causing her to leap reactively.  Surprised, she first glimpsed him in the mirror and then craned her head over her shoulder to look up at him. “Don’t sneak up on me!” She scolded.  “You know I hate that.”

“I was louder than a goddamn train wreck comin’ in here,” he said.  “How you missed me, I’ll never know.”

Sondra lowered the hairbrush onto the table.  “I swear, I don’t know what’s gotten into me.  It’s like my mind is going… and I—I can’t remember where or even who I am half the time anymore.”

“It’s that damn reunion,” Todd said.  “It’s all you’ve been able to think about for the last week.”

Sondra’s mind ebbed against the blank shore of memory.  Had she been preoccupied about the reunion? She supposed she was a little.  She hadn’t seen a single person she went to school with since graduation day.  After high school she’d gone to college in upstate New York, where she’d met Todd.  They’d gotten married and settled in Buffalo, and she hadn’t gone back to that godforsaken Pennsylvania town since.  She was looking forward to showing them that she’d become something far greater than anyone ever expected, and she was no thing to be teased or tormented.

“Have I really been that bad?” she asked.

Todd squeezed her shoulder and shook his head, “Nah.  I just don’t understand why you’re letting yourself get so stressed out over this whole thing. They’re just people, and I’m sure most of them are fatter than they should be, half-bald and not near as interesting as you once thought them.”

“I guess,” she shrugged.  “I just really want to walk into that thing and wow them, you know?  Show them that there is more to me than meets the eye.”

He leaned down and kissed her cheek, “Then just be yourself.”

She leaked air through her teeth like a flattening bicycle tire and pressed her back against the sturdy frame of the chair.  “I suppose,” she said, but she didn’t mention anything about the longing for revenge that continuously cropped up in her mind.

God how she hated them, every last one of them.

She shouldn’t even go to the damn reunion, she hated them all that much, but it was the drive to show them she was better than them now, that she had married well and her husband loved her just the way she was.  She wanted to see, like Todd had suggested, how pathetic and uninteresting they all were now, and the worst part was that a part of her was so angry with herself for being petty about it all.

She wasn’t fifteen anymore, and the Pirate’s Treasure label hadn’t described her for more than a decade.  She was Sondra McCabe: hip librarian, loving wife and she had a beautiful body thanks to plastic surgery.

But still… she wanted to crush them all.  Smash their heads against the concrete and tear their brains…

Sondra shook off the hideous imagery of her own mind and pressed her back into her husband.

“I really wish you could come along,” she told him.

“Me too, Babe,” Todd squeezed her shoulder once before patting it with his hand and stepping away from the chair.

“I mean, it really makes it difficult for me to show off my stunning sex god of a husband without him by my side.”

“I tried to get someone to cover for me, but Dalton wasn’t having it.  I’m his star man,” Todd’s curls rustled when he shook his head.  “The only one who can get the job done.”

Sondra imagined tearing that self-righteous windbag Dobbins’s head clean from his shoulders and cracking it open on the sidewalk like an egg filled with warm, oozing brains.  As soon as she caught herself thinking about it, she stifled her gag reflex, and pinched her lips tight together.

“Why must you always be so goddamned reliable?” she distracted herself with the jest, elbowing the top of his thigh, which still rested behind her.  “I suppose I’ll go it alone.”

“You’ll dazzle them, I swear it.”

She’d rather destroy them, she thought.  Tear them all limb from limb with gnashing teeth.  In her imagination she was a rabid animal, some wild, lycanthropic beast, only there was no full moon, and she felt wholly driven to devour their brains.  Maybe she ought to just stay home, she thought.  Maybe no one would even notice that she hadn’t shown up.

“I wish I felt as certain as you did.”

“Be the confident and beautiful girl I know you are,” Todd said, “and they will all fall hopelessly in love with you.”

Sondra bit her tongue to keep from admitting that she had no desire for them to fall in love with her.  Or maybe she did.  Maybe she wanted more than anything to be the center of their attention the same way she was in high school, only instead of the object of their mutual disdain, she would be the object of their desire.  She wanted them to want her, to swallow hard against their disbelief when she walked into the room, but more than anything, she wanted to destroy them all.

Todd kissed her on the cheek before he slid out of the room to start dinner, and Sondra felt momentarily reassured by his comment and her own inner-dialogue.

She’d gone hundreds of places without him since they’d been married, had made dozens of friends and acquaintances over the years.  She was stronger and more confident than she had ever been as a teenager, so what did she have to worry about?

Sondra’s eyes scanned the reflection in the mirror, her own reflection.  Her eyes flittered across the pronounced rigidity of her collarbone in contrast to the soft, firm mounds of flesh that hovered atop her chest.  The bruise was still there, still hideous in its coloration, and a broken vein had veered off from it and crawled the length of her milky white shoulder.  It was darker, almost black beneath the skin.  Both disgusted and fascinated by it, wondered if something had ruptured inside her, maybe one of her implants was leaking.

No.  That denial was almost too quick inside her mind, as though something beyond her had triggered the response, but it placated her.

“It’s just a vein,” she traced her finger along the river of it, toward her shoulder and into the loose tendrils of her hair.  “Nothing to get excited about,” she decided.

Besides, no one would see it anyway.  It wasn’t like she was planning on flashing the whole entire graduating class of 1997.

Part 1 of Ahoy, Matey!
Part 2 of Ahoy, Matey!

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