My crime-writing friends often joke about their search histories being stuff of NSA nightmares or of the sidelong glances received when overheard in public sussing out gory scene details.
Then, there are the nervous smiles from our spouses.
One friend couldn't decide on which poison to use to kill a pesky antagonist. Arsenic? Too common. Cyanide? Too traceable and the bitter taste a dead giveaway that could stop a victim from drinking a lethal dose. After sounding ideas off her husband, she gave him an iced lemonade made without any sugar to see how much he would drink before stopping.
He took a sip, put down the glass, and asked, "We're happy in our marriage, right?"
Long live the long-suffering spouse of a writer.
I thought my husband and I were beyond such misunderstandings or fear. After a year of 24/7/365 togetherness, all fears and worries should have been dispelled, or at least thoroughly aired out.
A Zoom writers' group proved me wrong.
We start each session with a prompt and write for five minutes. I've posted a few of the responses in this blog and it's always fun to see the different ways we continue from a single beginning. This time, the prompt read:
The last few nights she had a recurring dream about ...
I continued with:
The delicious thought wrapped her in layers of warmth. No more leg twitches. No more snorts and grunts. No more stale flatulence.
She'd be free.
The wave of happiness receded with wakefulness. "Damn it," she said as she pulled on her robe.
Night after night. Happy. Wake. Happy. Wake.
She couldn't take anymore.
Then the dreams invaded her days. She couldn't stop the thoughts. Her only respite came in planning actions. Gun? Too messy. Poison? Where to buy? Accident? How? When? Where?
The thoughts wrapped her in happiness.
Then...he didn't wake up. She nudged him.
She took the pillow from his head.Nothing.
"No! No! No! It can't be!"
She woke to a snort.
He rolled over. "Morning," he said.
"Morning, Love. Coffee?"
We read our responses aloud to one another, laughed at our follies, and continued on with our session. Afterward, my husband appeared at my office door. He gave me a nervous smile. "That's not the first time you killed a husband in your writing."
I scoffed. "I haven't! That was the first."
He then listed other times my characters' husbands or significant others met untimely ends. His memory stretched back into years.
"We're happy in our marriage, right?"