Author's note: This is my entry for RedNovaTyrant's "Cruel Fate" Writing Contest. Fate has dealt me the card #14, Temperance.

Last night, I walked into my young son’s room. I glanced around the room at his baseball player posters hanging on each wall and his numerous model airplanes suspended from the ceiling. He sat up in bed, the sound in his earbuds barely audible to me as he watched a Youtube video on his tablet.

I stood over him, next to his bed. I couldn’t keep myself from grinning as I crossed my arms and tried to act like a tough parent. “It’s time to go to sleep, bud.”

He turned his wide, dark eyes up to me, yanking the buds from his ears with one motion. “It’s almost over, Dad. Just a few more minutes.”

I love my son so much. I’m a sucker when it comes to my children, and I let them get away with things perhaps more often than I should. Maybe it’s because I see his mother when I look into his face. “A few more minutes,” I responded, sitting on the edge of his bed as he popped his earbuds back in and focused his attention back to his tablet.

My son is not only a baseball fan, but a player. He keeps a baseball bat next to his bed “in case of intruders” he says. Smart kid. I leaned down and grasped the handle of the wooden bat, feeling the heft in both hands. It felt sturdy. I wrapped both hands around the taped grip and pulled back, slowly mocking a baseball swing. It felt good. It felt like this instrument could deal some real damage. I imagined a full-strength swing of the bat, how much energy would be expelled, transferred into a target. So much power, all at once in a tremendous burst.

I imagined that power crashing into a human skull, fracturing it, bruising the soft tissue inside, the brain lurching forward and ricocheting violently inside the bone, blood beginning to pool inside…

My eyes widened as I looked back at my distracted son, laughing silently at his glowing screen. I wondered if he would survive the first blow. He might. I relaxed and took a breath, my eyelids lowering. I placed the baseball bat next to his bed and smiled down at him, reaching out a hand to gently ruffle his hair. Of course I would never do anything like that. I love my son very much.

He handed the tablet to me as his video finished, and I wished him a good night as I closed the door to his room.

I peeked into my daughter’s room, and saw in the dim glow of her Disney princess night light that she was already asleep. There were drawings taped up on the walls everywhere. They were little more than marker scribbles in reality, but they were all her very own artwork. She had even signed every one of them with the crude handwriting of a child who had just learned her letters. The most important drawings were magneted to the refrigerator, of course. My favorite was the one with the large face with an exaggerated mustache, on which she had written “To Daddy”. It fills my heart with joy just to see her. I love her very dearly.

I walked into her room and quietly observed her sleep. Her tousled hair spread across the pillow as she laid on her back, her head to the side. I watched my little girl’s chest rise and fall as she breathed, serene in her slumber. I picked up one of her pillows and stood over her at the bedside. My fingers gripped the pillow tightly, the soft fabric giving way under my clenched fists. I imagined it would take very little effort at all to press that normally harmless pillow down onto a person’s face as they slept. I imagined the air flow entering and leaving her lungs suddenly cut short, unable to take in more breath. Would she wake up? Would she struggle? Any screams would be muffled by the pillow. I could push a knee down onto her ribcage and force the breath from her tiny lungs. It wouldn’t take long, but I don’t want her to suffer. I love my daughter very much.

I lowered the pillow down to the bed, placing it near her head, brushing it gently with my hand. I leaned in and kissed my daughter on the head before silently leaving her room.

I finally entered the master bedroom, where my wife was getting ready for bed. She was vigorously brushing her teeth when I came in. I stood by the door and just stared at her with a soft grin on my face. Even after all these years, she was still so beautiful. My heart melted every time I saw her, and sometimes I just had to tilt my head and sigh as I looked at this amazing woman, in a state of awe.

She noticed me staring and tried to hold back a sheepish smile. “What?” she said, grinning, her mouth full of toothpaste suds.

“Oh, it’s just that I love you, and I can’t stop looking at you,” I replied, striding over to sit on the bed. “Do you want to bring that minty mouth over here?”

“Gross,” she giggled before disappearing into the bathroom to finish brushing.

After she had completed her routine, she came out of the bathroom and casually strode to where I was sitting. I looked up at her and took both her hands in mine, interlocking our fingers with one another. I leaned up and closed my eyes as I lovingly kissed her sweet, minty lips. She gripped my hands tightly as she kissed me back, leaning forward into me. I slipped one hand free and grabbed her around the waist, spinning her around and onto her back in one fluid motion. She gasped in surprise as I straddled her, pinning her arms to the bed with both my hands, and leaned down to kiss her passionately, with no sign of resistance or fear from my trusting wife.

My left hand drifted to her delicate neck, my fingers gingerly caressing the sensitive skin. I came up for air from the kiss, panting deeply. I gazed into my wife’s eyes and breathed, “You are so incredibly sexy right now,” my fingers now firmly pressing between her neck and her shoulder. I looked down into her face and saw not only trust but eagerness as I wrapped both hands around the front of her neck.

I wanted to do it so badly. To choke the life out of your lover with your bare hands… truly there must be nothing more sexually gratifying in this world. She wanted me to do it. I know it. I saw it in her eyes. I squeezed my hands around her neck, feeling the blood pumping through her arteries, her life force traveling through her veins. Her breathing grew more labored, the skin of her face began to turn red. As I applied more and more force, I expected her to begin to struggle, but my wife only stared more deeply into my eyes with an unrelenting love and an unconditional belief that her husband would never hurt her or her children. I thought I saw the corner of her lip turn up into a tiny smile.

I immediately took my hands off her throat and rolled away, my chest heaving and my eyes wide and unblinking. My wife sat up and coughed softly, her normal color slowly returning to her cheeks, but with two red marks where my hands had been. Her voice was a bit hoarse when she spoke, “I didn’t know you were into that…” she chuckled. It would have been so easy to wring that dainty little neck of hers, to end her life in the most intimate way possible, and she would have given no resistance. I realized right then it would be an incredible waste. A fleeting orgasmic rush followed by a lifetime of regret.

I would never do that to my wife. I love her very much.

I sighed and suggested I was tired and that we should go to sleep.

She twisted her hair around her finger and gave me a smoldering look. She inquired softly, “Don’t you want to keep going?”

My heart raced, and a quick succession of horrible, bloody images and sounds filled my head when she said this. I closed my eyes tightly and shook my head clear. I reached over to the bedside lamp and snapped the light off. “Not tonight.”

Written by Glisario
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