At 3:51 A.M. Thomas’s mood crystallized into one clear, succinct thought.
“This isn’t worth it,” he realized. Mary, his wife of three years, sat bawling to herself on one end of the couch while he sat quietly fuming on the other. He pretended to care about her for three years, and it was getting harder. They were arguing more often; tonight’s argument was the worst so far; and, it was trivial as far as Thomas was concerned.
A witch’s corpse was profitable and worth a few years invested in building trust, but Thomas always knew when to cut his losses. The moment he decided something wasn’t worth the effort, he had no trouble abandoning any progress he’d made. It also helped that he was only 90% sure of her witchiness. He trusted his intuition but had not been able to confirm it in three years. Giving up was an easy choice.
“I think it’s time we-,” Thomas was interrupted by Mary; she shook her head and scooted closer to him. But, she still did not touch him.
“Wait,” she said quickly. Almost as if sensing the end of their relationship. “I haven’t been completely honest about.. some things,” she said quietly. Thomas immediately reconsidered his breakup. At least until she confessed whatever it was. If she did turn out to be a witch, the past three years were still worth it. Mary stared at her hands in her lap for several quiet moments, then shook her head again.
“That’s wrong,” she added. “I lied to you from the beginning. Intentionally.
“About what?” Thomas asked. He took the initiative and scooted closer to her. Part of him wondered if he should make an excuse to grab his weapon; but, he decided against it. She hadn’t confessed anything yet. If she wasn’t a witch, he would break up with her that morning. If she was, he would apologize profusely until she relaxed; then, kill her around lunchtime, and be rich by dinner. Either way, he decided he did not need to be armed.
“My family mostly,” she replied. Thomas nodded. He knew very little about her family, because she always avoided the conversation. It was one of her more suspicious quirks. They had a quiet wedding; it was his suggestion, but she seemed eager to keep the marriage hidden from her family. Thomas had yet to meet any of her siblings or parents, but it made his goal easier. Killing a witch tended to attract the notice of her family.
“First, you have to understand I’m not like them,” she said. Her focus remained fixed on her hands in her lap. “I’m like the black sheep. We’re technically related, but that doesn’t mean anything,” she continued setting up her innocence. Thomas nodded thoughtfully and put his arm around her. He reassured her while he planned his evening in his mind. What she was saying wouldn’t matter one bit if she was a witch.
“Before I met you, my family disowned me because I didn’t want to follow in the family business,” she continued. “Then my sister died and according to my family, it was all my fault somehow,” she sighed. Thomas sighed too; he was bored. It was looking more and more like she wasn’t a witch and he was anxious to be out of there.
“Well,…” Thomas squeezed her. “We can talk more about it in the morning,” he offered with the full knowledge that he would not be there when she woke up. Mary shook her head.
“No… I brought it up,” she said. “I think I’m ready to see my family again.”
“That’s great!” Thomas lied. Then, he was struck by a genuine curiosity. “Why?” he asked.
“Because of you,” she smiled, then leaned forward and kissed his cheek.
“Me?” he wondered out loud. “We’ve been arguing all night, what did I do?’
“You…,” Mary smiled and rotated herself to straddle his lap. “…you handsome…,” she kissed his lips, “… stupid man.” It wasn’t the first time she insulted his intelligence, but deep inside, Thomas knew it would be the last. “You gave up, so you lost the game,” she said. Mary then sat back on her haunches, still on his lap.
“Game?” Thomas asked. He tried to sit up but his body was not following any of his commands. Mary nodded.
“You know. I’m pretending not to be a witch while you try to figure out if I am.” Mary shook her head playfully. “It’s kind of cheating when I can read your mind, but I had fun annoying you for three years.” Mary giggled when Thomas gave her a confused look.
“Come on, you’re a professional and after three years you still can’t tell if I’m one or not?” she said. “It almost feels…. intentional,” she giggled.
“You killed my sister,” Mary said while staring into Thomas’ eyes. “I let that slide because I didn’t like her much anyway. That prissy little witch was always the family favorite. But you’ve lost interest, so now I have too.” Mary tapped her knuckle against his forehead. He heard her voice one more time as he blacked out. “Game over, Thomas.”