In case I am one day questioned on the events that happened on this exact day here is precisely, exactly what happened.
I woke up before I should have. The sun was barely leaking in through the curtains. It was clear that it had been raining overnight, there were still drops dripping from the drain. For the purposes of the court let’s call this around 5:30 am.
I don’t need to say it, because if the court has gotten this far you’ll know that I woke up alone. I don’t need to say it. You know it. I know it. It happens all the time. We live in Elkhorn and my husband works in Fremont. It’s a quick twenty miles. If you’re driving like me that means a quick twenty minutes, maybe less depending on who is on the streets. For my husband, that means a few hours. He stops at the bar with the guys from work, he stops for dinner, he stops and talks to his high school girlfriend who teaches at Midland College. She is smarter than me. Sometimes he spends the night there. Though I never notice. I don’t pay attention to how well-rested he seems for claiming he sleeps in his truck. I don’t pay attention to how he smells like Downy when I use Tide. I don’t pay attention to the lipstick behind his ear that I know he noticed and hoped I did too. I don’t pay attention to how he won’t fuck me anymore.
For the purposes of the court, I woke up alone and was not interrupted in my own home by my own husband. I never wondered where he was. It was a Tuesday, he should have been at work. We know, if you are looking at this account as a bit of evidence, that he was dead by now. He was alone, by the edge of the Elkhorn Creek. Foul play was the most likely suspect. You’re wondering if I killed my husband.
I got out of bed a few minutes later. I got in the shower. I rarely shower in the morning. I had just showered the night before, but I had been cold all night. The bathroom was steaming before I got in the shower. I waited until my skin turned red and got out. I didn’t grab a towel. Water was dripping off of me and all over our floors. It didn’t matter. I tore the sheets off of the bed and wrapped myself in them. I took the comforter and the quilt and wrapped myself so tightly I could barely breathe. It eventually loosened, it is very hard to asphyxiate yourself. I took everything to the laundry room.
I started some coffee and put some bread in the toaster. I held the toaster to me while it heated up. I buttered the toast and poured the coffee in the largest mug we had, and went outside. There was still a mist over the trees. The deck was wet with dew or rain or something else. The chairs were wet and cold. The deer that I had been clocking appeared through the trees. She’s a little doe. Every morning she peeks her head through the trees. We’re both checking in on each other. She took a look at me and ran back into the trees.
The heat in the house was 74, but I needed it to go up higher. I turned it up to 85 and went upstairs to get dressed.
I hated all of my clothes. They’re all boring. They’re all from the outlets, and if I were to go to Target forty other people would be wearing the exact same thing. I needed new clothes. I couldn’t stand the touch of what I had anymore. It was only 8 am at this point though, and nowhere worth looking would be open for hours. I took everything in my closet and put it in bags, loaded up my car, and drove to Goodwill.
If after reading I am still a suspect, then let me be clear, I hated all of my clothes. I had for quite some time. This was not new, or something erratic prompted by some traumatic event, I simply hated everything I owned and had the opportunity to change it on this day. When I inevitably appear in court, because who believes women in this day and age, you’ll be much happier with the chic nature of my appearance rather than the acrylic-ill-fitting fabrics I would have been wearing.
I threw everything in the donation bin at Goodwill, I didn’t bother to get a receipt for my taxes.
I didn’t know how to do taxes, or even how that worked. I didn’t make enough money to matter to the government.
I drove almost an hour to Little Bohemia in South Omaha. Growing up this was the place that was dangerous, that we weren’t supposed to go at night. Once you’re grown up you realize that everywhere is dangerous and the places that you weren’t supposed to go were just where poor people lived. A girl I went to high school with married someone who lived in North Omaha, the last piece of the city that hadn’t been gentrified, where people were outwardly poor. But she was a teacher and he was a teacher so it made sense for them to try and help the kids in North Omaha. He was shot dead in his classroom by a student who he failed that semester. Her husband died, and my husband died, so who really gives a shit that I live in the suburbs. I still didn’t do anything right.
My husband was not shot. You know that. That anecdote was not a clue. Just remember that while you will likely not find my husband’s killer, and even if you did they will get maybe twenty years in prison, you gave that poor boy who shot that teacher the death penalty. He was barely 18. You killed him for being outraged. You killed two people. Both of them could have survived. You won’t kill whoever did this. Maybe I will. If our Governor can buy drugs off of the black market to kill criminals everyone can.
I spent two hours at the store. There were nice girls helping me. They were wearing wide-leg pants and cool sneakers. They were graduating from college in the spring and moving to Chicago together. I told them Thank God, get out of here while you can. I let them pick out everything. I bought it all without trying it on. I just wanted to talk to them. Hear about their boyfriends and the bars that they go to. I bought both of the outfits that they were wearing. I asked them if I could wear it out of the store, they said of course. They took a picture of all of us together and posted it on their Instagram. See you’re just like us, they said. Until this moment I had forgotten that I was only thirty. Only thirty. That’s not old. I’m not old. I thought about how much longer I had to be alive. What an awful thing to think about.
In the matters that the court is interested in, I do not want to die nor do I want anyone else to die. Not being intensely aware of our mortality, I think, is a disservice to our experience. If we go day to day thinking that we’ll get to do those things someday those some days never come and then you’re dead. My husband would always talk about the things we were going to do someday. And now look at us. He’s dead and I, if you’re reading this, am a key suspect.
I was feeling good after I left the shop. I went downtown and sat at a bar and ordered a glass of wine. It was maybe only around one in the afternoon (for your records), but people drink during the day all the time. This is not inherently suspicious behavior. I took out the credit card that I never use and bought drinks for everyone in that bar. No one in a wine bar in the early afternoon is enjoying themselves, I hoped that this one act would make them feel better. A woman who looked like she was about my age came and sat next to me after I bought them drinks. She told me that was a very generous act, but there were only a few people in the bar, I doubt my tab would even be fifty dollars. I told her thank you. She told me that she was a stay at home mom, her son was in kindergarten, and every day before she picked him up from school she would come here and have a glass of wine and read her book. She told me that last week a guy in scrubs sat down next to her, he had just started his medical residency at UNMC. He bought her a drink and her cheeks flushed. He invited her back to his studio apartment in Blackstone and she obliged. They started hooking up and her son’s school called and she forwarded the call and they called again and again and then she just turned her phone off. After they finished she walked outside and punched a brick wall and went to UNMC to get her hand reset and a cast. When she got home her husband asked what happened and she said that she tripped on the curb going into Target and fell right on her wrist. She said she was mad she had even done it, she was mad she lied to her husband and had her son wait at school, but on top of all of that, the sex wasn’t even that good. I got where she was coming from.
I have never cheated on my husband, despite the fact that he cheats on me religiously. The worst thing I’ve ever done was take twenty dollars out of his wallet without asking so I could go see a movie while he was at work. I liked sitting in the cold dark room by myself in the middle of the day. My husband was never bad to me. He just fucked someone else and broke my heart.
I went to the park by my house and watched the kids play after school. They ran around the playground screaming, their moms talking to each other. There weren’t nannies in Nebraska, only babysitters. Our parents were responsible for us, and then we were responsible for ourselves. Then your husband is supposed to take care of you, and then when you’re old your children are supposed to take care of you. You just end up taking care of yourself until you die.
I found a little mitten in the grass as I walked to my car. It was no bigger than my palm. I picked it up and put it in my pocket.
My car was freezing cold. I turned the heat on full blast. The nylon on the outside of the mitten was freezing cold. I turned my seat heaters on and put the mitten in the passenger seat. Dodge Street was too crowded so I decided to take the back roads home. Huge million-dollar houses on forest-lined streets. We knew we weren’t supposed to settle here, but we couldn’t help ourselves to destroy what didn’t belong to us. Sometimes I think that I can hear drums coming from the trees behind my house, banging throughout the night. I would wake up my husband to see if he could hear them too. He would shush me and go back to sleep. I never heard them the nights that he wasn’t there. They were warning me.
I’m not crazy. If I am to sit as a suspect in my husband’s murder then I need the investigators to know that I am fit to sit on the stand and tell you exactly what I’m telling you here. It would be naive to think that the owners of the land where we sit are not trying to warn us after what happened to them here. They know that something bad will happen to us here. It did. It’s true. My husband was murdered where they were. If I hear him screaming from the trees in the backyard I’ll let you know.
When I got home I grabbed the mitten and put it in my pocket. The house was boiling. Sweat began to drip down my back as soon as I walked in the door. I quickly took off my new clothes, I didn’t want to dirty them before I had a chance to wear them again. I opened the door to the backyard to get some air in the house. I stood in front of the door and let the cool dry my skin, I waited until my skin was covered in goosebumps until I came back inside. Leaves and dirt and soot ran into the house with the wind. I let them live here.
I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day and made myself a feast. I put frozen pizzas in the oven, I started cooking a stir fry, I brought the ice cream out to thaw. I was snacking on tortilla chips and salsa. While all that was cooking I took out all of our perishables and dumped them over the side of the porch, it would be a feast for tomorrow. The wind kept blowing into the house with the swarms of smells living right outside of the house. I opened the oven and sat in front of it smelling the burning cheese.
I ate what I could of the dinner and put the rest on the porch, except for a slice of pizza that I kept in case I got hungry later. I put the little mitten in the oven, still on, to keep it warm.
I went and got my sheets and comforter out of the dryer and put the fresh clean, hot sheets on the bed. I pushed the bed up against the window and opened them up all the way. I turned on the heated blanket and went downstairs. I closed the backdoor but kept it unlocked. I unlocked the front door. Sometimes my husband would come home in the middle of the night and not be able to find his house keys, or the garage opener was somewhere lost in his car. I left the door open for whoever might come in. At the end of the day I live in a suburb in Nebraska, no one was going to come breaking into my house.
I went into my husband’s office, or man cave, as he called it. I grabbed an empty notebook. The computer was idle so I turned it on. My husband had emails from his boss asking where he was, why he didn’t show up to work today. He had an email from his high school girlfriend confirming plans for that night. I don’t know why people who cheat would be using email, it’s the most conspicuous of all the mediums, maybe aside from showing up on our doorstep tits out. I wouldn’t put that past her either. He had an unopened email I had sent him weeks ago about a deal to go to California in December.
I went upstairs with the notebook and a pen I found in the junk drawer. I sat down on the floor in my room to write the story of today. I wrote down exactly what happened in the exact order that it happened in. I wrote what you all are probably thinking and what you will probably want me to be thinking and then what you want to hear.
For the purposes and needs of the court, none of this will matter. The forensic evidence that you need you will have already got. You’ll have already gone to my husband’s work and seen that the wires were cut in my husband’s car. I knew that he wouldn’t call me, that he would call his high school girlfriend to pick him up because he hadn’t planned on coming home at all, he was going to go to her house. That’s why after my husband left for work that morning I left the house twenty minutes after him and made it to Fremont in twenty minutes to cut the wires in his car. Ten minutes after that I went to his high school girlfriend’s house. As soon as she opened the door she just kept saying “I’m sorry I’m so sorry. Don’t do this. Please don’t do this, it's not my fault. Please don’t.” I did anyway. I smacked her head with a tennis racquet I found in my car. It only knocked her out but I dragged her into her car in the garage and turned on the ignition, the garage filled with gas. By this point, the police would have already ruled it a suicide. Good thing she was on antidepressants. Not that that matters, everybody wants to die. My husband called me just after five to come pick him up from work, there was something wrong with his car. I was at his office by 5:30. I brought him a Mountain Dew. I had put 100mg of Xanax in it. I didn’t need the prescription anymore. There wasn’t anything to stress me out. After he passed out I drove to the edge of the highway and dragged his 200-pound body to the creek where I held his head underwater until his chest stopped rising. I drove home, took a shower, and got into bed.
For the purposes of the court, this sole journal entry will be sitting on the kitchen island which you know because you’re reading this. You’ll have gotten this far, I’m so sorry I can’t be your tragedy. If you go out in the backyard you’ll see a trail of blood leading into the forest if you want to follow it fine but you don’t need to. I’ll already be a warning banging my drum from the forest. Let me know if you hear me. Please take the mitten out of the oven, it should be warm by now.
Delaney Sweet is a writer living in New York City. She has an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She loves her dog and Diet Coke.