/ Language: English / Genre:sf


Fredric Brown


by Fredric Brown

The night outside was still and starry. The living room of the house was tense. The man and the woman in it stood a few feet apart, glaring hatred at each other.

The man’s fists were clenched as though he wished to use them, and the woman’s fingers were spread and curved like claws, but each held his arms rigidly at his sides. They were being civilized.

Her voice was low. “I hate you,” she said. “I’ve come to hate everything about you.”

“Of course you do,” he said. “Now that you’ve bled me white with your extravagances, now that I can’t any longer buy every silly thing that your selfish little heart—”

“It isn’t that. You know it isn’t that. If you still treated me like you used to, you know that money wouldn’t matter. It’s that—that woman.”

He sighed as one sighs who hears a thing for the ten thousandth time. “You know,” he said, “that she didn’t mean a thing to me, not a damn thing. You drove me to—what I did. And even if it didn’t mean a damn thing, I’m not sorry. I’d do it again.

“You will do it again, as often as you get a chance. But I won’t be around to be humiliated by it. Humiliated before my friends—”

“Friends! Those vicious bitches whose nasty opinions matter more to you than—”

Blinding flash and searing heat. They knew, and each of them took a sightless step toward the other with groping arms; each held desperately tight to the other in the second that remained to them, the final second that was all that mattered now.

“O my darling I love—”

“John, John, my sweet—”

The shock wave came.

Outside in what had been the quiet night a red flower grew and yearned toward the canceled sky.