Flash fiction written for the Moderated Selected Writing Exercise (#writingprompt) on the Writer’s Discussion Group community on Google+. The prompt for this exercise is a painting called “Who’s There?” by Vasili Maksimov.
Hope you enjoy.
The early-morning phone call left Madeline O’Connell rattled. Her law partner, Jeffery Crane was dead from an apparent heart attack. Her secretary’s frantic voice calling to inform her, haunted her as she gazed out the window of her tenth-floor corner office.
Madeline intended to work from home that morning, preferring solitude to finish a motion requesting a new trial for a client of Jeffery’s. His children convinced her Jeffery made a muddle of his case and after reviewing the trial transcripts, she agreed. Jeffery’s death changed her plans. She absently tapped the arm of her chair as she thought about all the mistakes Jeffery made during his five years with the firm. She overlooked some. They were fixable, but sending an innocent man to the death chamber was a mistake the firm wouldn’t recover from. All she had left was the firm, and her reputation, which she would protect at all costs.
Spinning her chair around, her gaze focused on her favorite painting. She’d found it at an art gallery and was drawn to it. The subject of the painting, a young girl from a century ago stood at her doorway, her feet bare on the cabin’s rough wood floor. Her body, clad in a once lovely gown, an apron tied around her waist, was leaning toward the door. Her right hand clutched a serrated knife. Someone was knocking on her door, and her apprehension was palpable.
Madeline pressed her lips together. She was that girl. Six years before her ex-husband and former partner left her, taking most of the firm’s clients with him. She suffered from the apprehension the girl in the cabin displayed since that day. She worked hard to return her small firm to prominence while remaining fearful of the unknown knock on the door. The unknown could destroy her, and she wasn’t going to allow that, not again.
Jeffery was a liability, one she could no longer afford.
Executing her plan proved easier than she expected. No one would suspect anything out of the ordinary, two law partners discussing cases late in the evening. She brought a bottle of scotch left behind by her ex-husband and two glasses with her. She entered Jeffery’s office. Obtaining the coniine poison was easy, a former client with a shady past would keep his mouth shut for the right amount of money. Coniine was deadly but undetectable in routine toxicology tests. A heart attack would be the cause of death.
She poured two drinks, handing one to Jeffery, setting her glass on the edge of his desk. Madeline’s pretense for the meeting was to discuss the motion she was writing, a source of contention between them. A few pointed comments and he began screaming at her, demanding she leave his office. She obliged taking both glasses and the bottle of scotch with her. She washed the glasses in her private bathroom and tucked the liquor bottle at the bottom of her briefcase.
Madeline stopped to speak to the security guard in the lobby making certain she was on the surveillance camera. When she got home, she poured the contents of the bottle down the toilet. Placing the bottle in a thick plastic bag, she shattered the glass with a hammer and scattered the glass shards in the lush landscaping in her backyard.
Her intercom beeped, her secretary informing her the police wanted to speak with her. When the knock on the door sounded, Madeline glanced at the painting. Unlike the girl, she wasn’t apprehensive at all.
Thanks for reading!