Word Count 472
The Mustache that Changed Everything
by G. Ackman
Later, all she would remember about the man was his mustache. His lips were moving and he was probably saying real words, but all she saw was that mustache. He needed to trim it, she thought inanely, but then a few of his words punctured through to her heart and brain. Murder. Arrest. Come with Me. The rest was a fog. In fact, the next month or so passed in a state between disbelief and anger, but continually wrapped in a fog of numbness. She tried to make life as normal as possible for the boys, but that quickly fell apart too. She thought if they went to school as if nothing happened then all three of them would be okay. But children are cruel and after three days of the boys coming home with puffy eyes and stained faces in spite of their assurances to her that they were okay, she let them stay home. It didn’t much matter anyway.
She supposed she did laundry, got groceries, and fixed meals, but she has no clear recollection of any of that. What she does remember are the phone calls from supposed friends that she never got, the turned away eyes from a neighbor who happened to be at the mailbox at the same time, and the pitying looks from the officers at the police station.
That day that changed everything had started out so normally. The boys went to school and then came home, heading out to the backyard to toss the football around before dinner. She had dinner on, parmesan baked chicken. That she remembered. And then the knock on the door and the man in the mustache changed everything.
Talk of lawyers – money? What money? They had just over $2,000 in the bank, the result of five years of diligent saving. Not nearly enough. Public Defender then. She went to the jail twice to see her husband, felt that she should. But there was nothing there. Was it possible for love to die in an instant? Yes, she realized it was. She heard that the trial was over quickly and the verdict of guilty was not a surprise. All the evidence had been there – the store’s security tape, an eyewitness, his own confession. He had snapped and for no discernible reason shot and killed three people in the store that day. Three lives ended so abruptly, so violently, and for no reason at all. Hers had too, you know. No one thinks about the family of the perpetrator. But they are victims too.
Six months after the trial, the divorce was final. A new name, a new state, a new job, a semblance of return to a normal life for her and her sons. Some days, she could almost forget that old life and the man in the mustache. Almost.