This Flash Fiction story won an Honorable Mention at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. Conference May 2022.
Jill couldn’t do it anymore. One last time. She told them her obligation was complete.
She gripped the rim of the grimy sink, a streak of rust spiraled beneath a permanent leak. Her hands shook. Her image in the cracked mirror reminded her of a Jack-in-the Box some sadistic aunt gave her.
The envelope seemed as innocent as a newspaper. Bile built in her throat and burned as hot as a witch’s cauldron. She stood near the sunny window. Her heart was heavy and black. There was no joy.
A photograph of a young couple holding hands and laughing at something fell to the worn carpet stirring what little soul she had left. The instructions were written on heavy paper with fancy flourishing lines. She read the order and shredded it.
This job would be finished in under an hour.
The diner was a greasy spoon with sticky vinyl tablecloths. Jill stumbled, pretending to be faint to get the attention of a pimply-faced girl acting like she enjoyed her job. “Excuse me, I’m not feeling well. Will you help me to the ladies room?”
“Sure, can I get you a cool cloth?”
Jill chose a chair that would have her back to the door. “Thank you, can I tell you why I’m upset? I need to get something off my chest.”
The waitress leaned forward. Her eyes gleaming with curiosity.
Jill took the girl’s hand, pressed a capsule in her palm, and folded her fingers into a fist. “I’m an assassin. You’ll be dead soon. I’m sorry. You weren’t the target.”
The girl’s eyes widened, then drooped. Her body wouldn’t obey the need to run.
Rushing into the bathroom Jill pulled a brown wig and apron from her bag. She watched as the targets, a young couple, came into the diner. They tossed their backpacks on one side of the booth before sitting beside each other whispering and laughing.
Jill approached the booth. “Good morning. What can I get you?”
“Coffee with cream. I want a burger with everything. My girl wants biscuits and gravy.” The young man’s face reflected pure love.
Jill put three capsules of cyanide in the small cream pitcher. “Coffee’s hot.”
The girl took the pitcher and poured cream into the coffee. A diamond flashed on her left hand.
“Your ring is beautiful.” Jill had to keep them drinking the coffee. Their speech was slurring, their eyes drooping.
“Jess chose the ring. We’re getting married in two months”
“Congratulations.” Jill left the table and walked out the back door.
Never again. She returned to the hotel and burned the photos in the sink. The waitress died. The young couple was dead, because one influential man ordered it when they saw him in the diner with a notorious criminal.
She destroyed every gun, knife, and poison she had used with stunning expertise. She laid on the floor and bit into a capsule of poison.
She warned them she would never do it again.