“Sweet Invidia” by Cara Petitti
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.
Daryl pressed my back against the cold iron railing on the crumbling steps beside the Shelton Auto Body. His kiss was even colder, but only because he was in a rush.
Fires in this city weren’t extinguished without quick response from able-bodied volunteers, and I agreed that love could wait.
Daryl sprinted down the stairs and crossed the street in front of the firehouse. As I lingered on the steps, I noticed a group of girls hanging out further up the sidewalk on Coram, whispering to one another and pointing. They wore dark clothes, smoked thin cigarettes, and stared me down like hungry wolves.
I climbed the stairs and crossed Fairmont Place to the quiet church carnival where I joined the only two acquaintances I had made since the move.
Rob and Kate had ignored my absence and didn’t even ask about the boy I snuck off with. And while I wasn’t ready to call them friends, they were more than I’ve had in any of the other towns.
Kate led us past rides and seedy game booths. She pointed at the Ferris wheel and motioned to Rob and me. I wasn’t going to be a third-wheel cliché, so I stood aside as she and Rob slid into the bucket seat.
“You two have fun.”
The heavyset ride operator closed the gate and sat at the switch. “Stand over there if you’re not getting on.”
As I stood aside, a nineties-esque vixen from the group on Coram marched in and blocked my way. She smiled big like the Cheshire cat, then wrapped her pointed fingers around my wrist.
“No, no,” she said. “We’re going on next.”
Before I could protest or ask her to remove her hand, I was being led past the operator and into a bucket seat that smelled like popcorn and vomit. I cringed when the girl let go of my wrist and dug her nails into my thigh as she pulled me close. Our legs touched. She gritted her teeth and flashed the operator a fake smile.
As the Ferris wheel turned, I tried to shift to the other side of the bucket. She pulled harder.
“No, let’s chat.” The smell of her breath was smoky and nauseating, but I swallowed to contain my dinner. “We have a little problem, see. You’ve been spending time with my Daryl. That’s a stupid thing to do, don’t you think?”
I recognized her as the member of the group who stared at me, whispering with venom. I recalled Daryl and his kiss. Daryl and his words of love and teen romance. Daryl wasn’t hers. He was mine now.
I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think that’s my problem.”
The viciousness in her eyes was not alien to me. I’d seen it before at almost every place Dad and I moved; it was the reason we never hung around long.
The girl dug her nails into my thigh again, this time with more force. “You might want to rethink your answer.” The pain played me a reel of the jealous ex-girlfriends I had angered. She was more unstable. She was more than messed-up.
“You’re right,” I said with sudden hesitation. “He’s yours.”
“Good,” she said, smiling. She stood up and pressed the tips of her knees against the safety bar and pulled me up beside her. The Ferris wheel stopped to let out passengers. We looked out over downtown, over Daryl’s firehouse escape, and over the century-old abandoned industry buildings on the water.
The night was different from up here. It was clearer.
“If you had said no,” she began, “Well, you’d want to die. I’m good at that.” She clutched my wrist then let it go, slicing my skin with her nails. I fell into the seat while she raised her hands above her head, closed her eyes, and laughed.
Kate, Rob, and the operator had their heads turned when she fell, but that didn’t stop them from feeling the vibrations in the metal as her body ricocheted off beams and bucket seats.
Later, the local herald plastered a photograph of me with my head buried in Daryl’s arms across the front page. The caption read, “Friend of the sixteen-year-old victim, who sources say witnessed the fall, was inconsolable at the scene.”
The caption was a lie of course, but I was happy they wrote it. Daryl was too desirable to pass up, and I had made a decision.
I wasn’t moving again.
CARA PETITTI is a writer from Shelton, Connecticut. She earned her MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University and her BA in English from the University of New Haven. She enjoys writing stories in any genre but has a particular fondness for fantasies set in imaginary worlds and realistic fiction with dark undertones. She currently works as a freelance writer and social media specialist. Find her on Twitter @carapetitti and at carapetitti.com.
Posted: Oct 20, 2015
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