Dinner has to be ready by 6:30. It needs to be on the table by the time he walks in the door. Madeline looks at the clock and sees that she has ten minutes till he gets home. She catches her reflection in the window. The makeup she uses to cover up her bruises only does so much. She can still see the outline of his handy work from a few days ago.
She made his favorite meal. Steak, potatoes and green beans with sautéed mushrooms. A glass of his drink of choice was already on the table. The steak, still bloody, oozes as she plates it. She stabs each potato to check and make sure they’re cooked all the way and plates them too.
Madeline looks at them to make sure they’re seasoned perfectly. They look good but she’s not eating tonight. Her kids aren’t eating either. She sent them to her mother’s house before she went and picked up the ingredients for dinner.
She plates the green beans and mushrooms and drowns them in the sauce she prepared. She takes the plate and places it at the table. Everything looks okay; nothing looks out of the ordinary so she spends the rest of the time cleaning up the kitchen until he comes home.
The front door opens, she freezes and has second thoughts until she hears him yell, “You better not be sleeping again!”
She comes out of the kitchen and sits down at the table, “I was cleaning the kitchen, how was work?”
She watches him drink from the glass, his expression never changes it’s a permanent scowl. Everything about his features says that he shouldn’t be trusted. Nothing about him is soft or gentle.
He slams the glass down and looks up at her, “Better than sitting on my ass all day like you do.”
She winces as he stabs in the steak. He cuts off a piece, brings it up his lips and puts it in his mouth. Madeline holds her breath as he chews the piece of steak watching for his reaction.
He narrows his gaze and takes a sip of his drink.
“Is something wrong with it?”
“Yeah, it’s dry, don’t you know how to cook a damn steak!”
“I’m sorry, you can dip it in the sauce that’s on the green beans and mushrooms.”
“Well I guess I have to.”
It takes until he’s well into the meal for him to realize that she’s not eating or that their kids are not at the dinner table. She reminds herself that’s why she’s doing this, for her kids.
So they don’t have to live in fear anymore any time he comes through the door. She watches as he slowly eats his meal and his speech slurs. He drinks the rest of his drink and suspects nothing.
“Do you want another drink?”
“No, I want a better… better steak.” He lifts his hand and looks at it.
Datura, aka the devils trumpet, is a beautiful flower dripping with deadly intentions. Its hallucinogen properties make it an alternative to marijuana among young people. In some countries, the leaves of the Datura plant are steeped in alcohol but it is advised to mix this alcohol with something else.
He drinks his alcohol straight, no ice so it’s not diluted.
“How are the green beans?”
He uses his hand and shoves several of them in his mouth. He reaches for his cup and takes another sip out of his empty cup.
“They taste like....”
Belladonna, aka deadly night shade, was used too enlarge the pupils of women and make them more desirable. The name belladonna translates to “beautiful lady” but given in high dosages it can be deadly. It’s not hard to get these plants and putting them in his food was even easier.
Just add lemon juice to get rid of the bitterness of the belladonna in the sauce and the Datura laced whiskey goes unnoticed as well.
He drops his fork and looks over at her. She smiles and watches as his body starts to spasm. He falls out of his chair and gasps for air. She gets up and leans down next to him, “They taste like freedom.”