Author: Beverly V Head
Sandrine was up early to begin work. She had put all the ingredients out the night before so that she could get started as soon as she got up. She had a long day ahead of her with teaching, errands after classes, and a late movie with her girlfriends.
She took her time reading the directions. She read them three times to be sure that she had each ingredient and the correct order for mixing them. Fortunately, she had read the directions the night before and discovered that she did not have the red pepper, a key ingredient. A quick trick to Piggly Wiggly had solved that problem.
After Sandrine had finished mixing the ingredients, she went out into the back yard. She walked down to the stream at the back of the yard. She stood on the wooden bridge that she and Reynolds had built together the previous summer. It was pleasant standing there with her face tilted up to the sun. A breeze ruffled her hair. She could have stood there for hours, but she needed to clean the kitchen.
She had just finished sweeping the kitchen floor when she heard the front door open and then footsteps up to the second floor and then footsteps back down the stairs.
She was sitting at the table in the breakfast room when he ran into the kitchen.
“Sandrine! Help me!”
Reynolds still had on the clothes that he had worn the previous day. Even in wrinkled clothes, he looked good. But he also looked scared. His eyes were bright and shiny, like he was about to cry.
“Sandrine! Please! Something is wrong!”
Sandrine looked at him as he ran from the kitchen into the breakfast room. His feet were bare. He must not have had time to put on his shoes when he had left that woman’s house.
When she did not say anything, Reynolds started to cry.
“What have you done to me? Sandrine, I told you that I didn’t cheat on you. That woman that called you was lying. I don’t know her like that. I just know her from work. Please, Sandrine! Help me!”
Sandrine watched Reynolds run back into the kitchen. She heard the back door open. From the bay window in the breakfast room, she could see him running across the gravel path and then down the driveway. His feet were bleeding.
He looked from left to right as he ran around the cul de sac. He was crying and screaming. After four or five times around he began running out of the subdivision into the woods behind the tennis courts. She sat until she could not hear his screams. She wondered briefly if any of the neighbors had called the police to report someone running and screaming.
Sandrine looked at the clock. It was time to go to her first class. Before leaving the kitchen she picked up the bottle with the red pepper mixed with the sand out of one of Reynolds’s tracks from the sand she had poured in the path to his tool shed. There was not much left since she had thrown most of it into the running stream in the back yard. She had followed exactly Miss Zora’s directions for giving Reynolds “running feet.” Now he was running from place to place, unable to stop.
She wondered how long it would take Reynolds to run himself to death.
Savage and strange. Nicely done.