#126 Revenge Served Hot

by Mary McCluskey

“Dad’s dead,” Matt says, his voice as calm as a pond. “The prison warden just called. So, how’ll we divvy up the estate? You get the coffee mug, I get his leather belt?”

We’d been expecting this, but still my limbs soften. I sit down abruptly.

“I’ll handle the funeral,” he says. “Same church as Mom?”

I agree, surprised. My brother seems so adult, suddenly capable.

When I arrive at the church, the coffin is already in place. Light from the stained-glass windows creates jewel patterns on the wood. Matt, in jeans, stands beside it. The ceremony is short—no hymns, no eulogies. The vicar says a few words before the coffin is carried to the waiting hearse.

I pause, bewildered, as the hearse moves towards the gates.

“Where’re they going?”

“The Crem.”

I turn. My brother smiles.

“Crematorium. All booked, all paid for.”

“But—he reserved a grave next to Mom.”

“She’ll enjoy the extra space,” Matt says.

I remember my father’s rage when I suggested cremation after Mom’s death. Matt had heard that explosion, too.

Matt pushes up his sleeves, turns his wrists to display the tender skin of the upper arms. The uneven circles, once a blistering, agonizing red, are fading now, just grey dents in the flesh. I have two circular scars also, on my shoulder blades. Our father’s drunken defence against the demands of two small children was a cigar with a burning end.

“You’ll remember,” my brother says. “How he loved fire.”


Kelly Robinson said...

The ending was jarring. Well done.

Dino Parenti said...

Nicely written and unexpected!

Anonymous said...

The pacing is excellent and you manage to tell so much more of the story than is written. Great job.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Nice revenge story. So complete and the build up is well done.

Bev Jackson said...

Love this! Total surprise, and so well done.

Helen Chappell said...

Great story beautifully written. The ending sent a shiver through my spine.

Carlye Knight said...

Very powerful!

msc said...


Catherine Vibert said...

Wow, intense ending. I can understand his anger and desire for revenge. You told an entire lifetime of pain in 250 words. Excellent.