Copyright © 2006 by Leah Kelley





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     Jason slammed the ink pen down on his desk, his jaw clenched, and gazed out the dark, open window of their bedroom.  It seemed every time he thought they’d get ahead, somehow the money just slipped through their fingers.  This time his wife had written several checks that bounced because she failed to balance their checkbook.  It cost them $300.00 in overdraft fees.  He sighed and rose from his seat.  Maybe a walk outside would calm him down a bit and he could finish these bills.


     He walked down the hallway and through the kitchen, shaking his head at the dirty dishes that lay in the sink.  He grabbed his McDonald’s bag from off the kitchen table and stuffed it into the overflowing trash can before removing the bag to take outside as he went.  His feet stuck to a spot on the floor from an old spill that hadn’t been cleaned.  Lizzie did not have a job, yet she never had time to clean the house.  Jason hated to say anything to her as she was always busy with some task or other in the church, but it sure would be nice if she focused some of her efforts there at home.


     Growling a bit in his throat, he made his way out to the trash can where he deposited the trash.  He walked around the yard, gazing at the sadly neglected flower beds his wife had so loved when they bought the house.  He remembered how beautiful the flowers had been when he came there as a child.  Not there exactly, but next door at his old Sunday school teachers’ house.  This house had been their rental property.  It felt just like coming home when he and Lizzie bought this place a few months back.


     Mrs. Ellie was the fourth and fifth grade Sunday school teacher at church.  Mr. Ted, her husband, was the middle school boys Sunday school teacher.  The older couple had played a huge part in Jason’s Christian education and he would forever be grateful.  Not having a dad of his own at home, Mr. Ted had been the primary male influence in young Jason’s life, and the friendship had continued not only through middle school but high school as well.


     Mrs. Ellie was also special to Jason.  He’d bet her dishes never lay undone in the sink or her kitchen floor so dirty you couldn’t walk on it in your bare feet.  She was sweet and unassuming and always respected her husband.  He wished Lizzie would take some lessons from Mrs. Ellie.


     He had been attracted to Lizzie because of her sunny disposition and willingness to help out wherever she was needed.  As the new youth minister of the church, it was important to him to marry a strong Christian who put legs on her faith.  However, he hadn’t realized that Lizzie thrived on the praise of others, and that, rather than a true calling, motivated her to do many things that was asked of her even at the cost of neglecting her husband and home.  They’d had several arguments over it already.  Coupled with her inability to manage money, he truly worried their marriage would never make it the forty-plus years Mr. Ted and Mrs. Ellie’s had.  He sighed.  If he only knew their secret.


     Jason took his time walking around the house, making note of a repair needed here and there, when he heard a slight noise from the front yard.  Evidently Lizzie had decided to return home early tonight.  He made his way around the side of the house.  He really needed to speak with her.


     Jason stopped at the front corner and stood very still, for in his yard stood Mrs. Ellie and she seemed to be crying as she looked up into his Weeping Willow tree.  He wondered if her cat had gotten stuck or something and was about to go offer his help when she reached up and measured her pinky finger against one of the limbs and quickly cut it off with a pair of scissors.  As she walked quietly back to her yard, she stripped the limb of all its leaves.  Jason frowned in confusion.  The older couple’s children had all moved out years ago.  What in the world would Mrs. Ellie want with a switch from his Weeping Willow tree?


     Shrugging, he walked back into the house, rubbing his neck as he made his way back into the bedroom to face the bills.  He was about to switch on the light but decided first to close the window and blinds since the bedroom was directly across from the older couple’s.  Unfortunately, if his light happened to be on and theirs off, they could look straight into Jason and Lizzie’s bedroom.  It creeped him out.  He would rather keep the window open, but he supposed he would have to turn on the air conditioner instead.


     Just as he started to close his window he heard an odd noise and looked up to realize that his neighbors’ light was on and he could

see directly into their bedroom.  He stared in stunned horror.  On the side of his bed with his back to Jason sat his old mentor, Mr. Ted, and across his lap lay sweet old Mrs. Ellie.  Her mouth was open in a scream as tears ran down her reddened cheeks.  Her little legs kicked frantically, panties hanging around one ankle.  Mr. Ted’s arm moved up and down rhythmically, willow switch in hand as he brought it down where her backside would be.  Thankfully Jason could not see that part of her anatomy or he would be traumatized for life.


     Realizing he should not be seeing what he was seeing yet unable to stop himself, he continued to stare as Mrs. Ellie struggled frantically, knotting her fists in the bedcovers, her head bobbing up and down.  Mr. Ted was relentless in his whipping of his wife.  It seemed to go on forever.  Jason could barely watch, yet he did, fascinated.  Could this be the secret to forty-plus years of marital bliss?  Shaking his head, he quickly pulled the blinds.

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