The woman crept down the stairs, breathing as shallowly as possible to not make a sound. She clutched a baseball bat in her hand, gripping it tightly. The second stair from the bottom creaked and she froze as the thundering sound of footsteps moved closer. Closer and closer, a shadowy figure moved towards the stairs. She raised the baseball bat above her head, ready to strike. As she swung down, the hall light turned on, blinding her.
“Hey!” the man said, grabbing the bat. “What are you doing?”
The woman looked at him, eyes wide. “What are you doing back here?” she asked. “I thought you were in Chicago for the week.”
“Change of plan.” He slid the bat out of her hands. “Were you going to hit me with my bat?”
“I thought you were a burglar! Why didn’t you turn on the light or something?”
“I didn’t want to wake the dog.” He leaned the bat against the wall and smiled at her. “Honey, I’m home.”
She walked past him. “Did you eat on the way here? There’s leftover lamb in the fridge.”
Once they were in the kitchen, she started microwaving leftovers for him as he sat at the small kitchen table. A cocker spaniel bounded into the room, skidding to a stop at his feet.
“Don’t forget the gardener is coming this weekend,” she said, putting the plate of food in front of him.
“Why is the gardener coming?” he asked.
“To till the back garden, remember? I’m using it as a vegetable garden.”
He pushed peas back and forth across his plate. “I can take care of it, honey. Just call the gardener and cancel it.”
“You have another business trip next week. You won’t have time to do anything with it. Hank can just take care of it on Saturday.”
“I insist, honey. I’ll do it.”
She looked over at her husband. “What is the big deal about one little tiny patch of land?”
“It’s too small to have Hank take care of,” he said quickly. “I’ll just deal with it and save us some money.”
“You were fine with this when I called him last week.”
“Just call him and cancel. Tell him he can take care of the lawn on Monday like he usually does.”
“Why can’t Hank take care of it? He’s a professional. He’ll do a great job.”
“Because I said he can’t!”
He got up and stormed out of the kitchen, slamming the front door as he left.
She waited until she heard the whine of a car engine before she went outside. She grabbed work gloves and a shovel before going to the tiny plot of land on the edge of their property. Pulling the gloves on, she started shoveling, only stopping when the shovel hit something hard. She knelt on the cold ground and began brushing dirt away from the object.
She pulled a long pale stick out of the ground. No. It was a bone.