“In the Covered Bridge” by Hallie Price
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Hallie Price takes us to a college in New Hampshire, where a covered bridge hides dark secrets.
My life seemed great in college. I started on the college hockey team as a freshman, and my roommate was my best friend, Abby. My tuition was waived because my mom worked as a dorm janitor. She had introduced me to my fiancé, who lived in another dorm where she cleaned. My fiancé was good-looking and had money; his dad was a CEO. Mom thought my fiancé was amazing, but I didn’t feel comfortable wearing the expensive jewelry and lingerie he bought me. After a while I wanted to call off the engagement, but didn’t because I didn’t want to deal with Mom’s disappointment.
Mom was vegan and ran every day. She was five foot ten, had long, shiny, naturally black hair, and breast implants. The college boys called her “the hot cleaning lady.” The men who went after her were carpenters and electricians, blue-collar types who worked with their hands. She wouldn’t go out with them.
My dad had never been in the picture.
Mom bribed someone for my room combination. While Abby and I were in class, she rummaged through my things, looking for condoms and birth control. She wanted to ensure I was saving myself for marriage. She told the cafeteria staff I was allergic to dairy and wheat; she didn’t want me to get fat. When she said that my future father-in-law was nice, I asked her how she knew him. She blushed.
That’s when I started cutting.
I liked to go to the covered bridge at night to do it. During those moments, the bridge was my cathedral, a safe cocoon. Light from the college fell through the lattice truss and drew shadows. I stood in the darkest edges, too anxious to sit, smelling the musty wood and counting striations on the floorboards. I chewed gum when I did it because I liked the contrast of the soft, sweet gum and the stiff, sharp blade. After the knife sliced, I felt like I did on the first day of college—a hot day when I had swung off the rope swing into the river, when I thought maybe things would be different.
The hockey team liked to have “group therapy” on the bus after away games. Abby played hockey too. I vented to her and my other teammates about Mom. “God, I want to kill her,” I said, more than once.
Abby saw me slip the knife in my pocket. I told her I carried it for self-defense. She didn’t believe me. She said the long sleeves didn’t hide what I was doing. She told me to stop. My knife went missing, and I started using a razor instead. I knew Abby had stolen the knife.
One night, after hockey season had ended, Abby had gone out with another friend. My fiancé texted me, asking if I wanted to go to Daniel’s— the local bar. I replied, saying I was sick. Mom called; I ignored her. After ten, Abby still wasn’t back. I grabbed my razor.
As I approached the bridge, I heard a cry. There were figures bundled in winter clothes at the far corner of the bridge. One was up against a wall. I turned the other way, not wanting to intrude. I thought it was strange that a couple would meet outside during winter, but Abby said love made you crazy, and I had never been in love.
Not long after, Abby returned to the room. She smelled like rust, and the outside and her cheeks were rosy. She said she had gone shopping in Concord. She lay down in her bed with her coat on and put her iPod earphones in. I took this as my cue to leave.
Outside, I saw someone lying on the bridge. I ran toward it. I remembered all the times on the bus when I had said I wanted to kill Mom. I remembered my missing knife.
Mom’s body was stabbed all over.
First I was happy about what Abby had done. Then I started crying because Abby was all I had. Maybe we could make it look like the CEO’s wife had done it.
I walked out of the cover of the bridge as if I hadn’t seen anything. I threw my razor as far I could into the Contoocook and then went to talk with Abby.
HALLIE PRICE graduated from New England College in 2011 with a bachelor’s in creative writing. She currently lives on the Oregon Coast and is finishing editing her first mystery novel. After that, she plans to write short stories featuring the protagonist of her novel and her alter ego—a no-nonsense, four-foot-ten private investigator, Piper LaFontaine.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Aug 10, 2015
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