Friday, April 29, 2022

Microstory 1875: Or Dig a Bigger Grave

I didn’t have any friends in high school. I had a stutter, so I didn’t like talking to people. I would wish I liked it, and I think the other kids would have been nice enough about it, but I was too self-conscious. One day in literature class, the teacher had us read a story together. Each student would take a paragraph or two, and then she would call on the next kid. I was so scared, and didn’t pay any attention to them, as I was just trying to figure out how to not embarrass myself. I couldn’t even start. I couldn’t say the first word, so I asked the teacher if I could opt out. She said it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids who never had that option. A cursory glance at my classmates suggested that they couldn’t care less, because they didn’t have speech impediments! She refused to listen until my hero swooped in to defend me. She scolded the teacher for being insensitive and unfair, and I never had to read out loud again. I was also in love for the rest of grade school, and into university. We happened to go to the same institution, where she would smile and wave at me on the occasion that we  passed each other, but we didn’t speak and I didn’t ask her out. After we graduated, she married someone else, and moved to a different country for work. Maybe a decade later—no, it was more like fifteen years—the internet created this new thing called instant messaging, and I pretty quickly reconnected with her on the most popular platform. I was over her by then, and mostly over my stuttering problem, but it was cool to be nostalgic a couple times a week when I had time. After a few years, I found myself scheduled for a business trip in her area, told her as much quite innocently, and was immediately invited to a small dinner party. And small, it was. She and her husband had only invited one other guy; a coworker of hers.

The dinner was great, and so was the company. It was nice, showing her how much my life had improved, and being able to finally have the nerve to thank her in person for what she did for me that day. It was a nice moment, which will forever be clouded by the darkness that followed. The other dinner guest had been sweating and rocking for a time, but trying to power through. But then, after convulsing for a few minutes, he fell off his chair, and died right before our eyes. We were all shocked, but I sprang into action. After checking for a pulse, I grabbed the phone, and desperately asked the couple what the emergency number was in their country. It wasn’t like I could just look it up. They didn’t want to tell me, and I eventually got them to admit that they were afraid of the authorities believing that they had anything to do with it. I argued with them, but they would not relent. They said he was already dead, and there was nothing we could do to undo that, so I might as well help move the body. I continued to argue but they told me they could blame it on me, since I was the one who brought the tea. I questioned that, and soon realized that this was no accident. It was murder, and my tea was the weapon. They revealed that they had secretly added something called yew seeds into his cup, and they told me they had to do it because he sexually assaulted her at work numerous times. I didn’t want to help them, but I didn’t think I had a choice. Once we were finished digging the grave—which I did mostly by myself—they apologized, and admitted that I drank a lower dosage of the poison, which meant I would die too, which was why they made me make such a large grave. That was the week I learned that I was at least moderately immune to yew seed poisoning. Bonus, I didn’t even go to jail.

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