Agnes & BB is a bi-weekly fiction series that I’m writing in conjunction with Amanda. We’ll be telling the same story from the perspective of two different characters. You can read BB’s story here and Agnes’ story via Amanda’s blog.
After that she’s always there, she never leaves. She’s there when I open up and I lock her inside when we close and it’s like she moves in, maybe; it’s like she has a secret entrance that only she knows about. It’s like she stole my key and copied it and she lets herself in and out as she pleases. And I would say something—normally I might say something about how weird this seems, about how she’s always around—but I somehow know she needs it. She needs this bar. She needs me.
And I need her.
I don’t know when it occurs to me. I really don’t know when it occurs to me but one minute it never would have crossed my mind and then the next minute it arrives like the most obvious conclusion in the world. It’s so clear, suddenly, it’s so painfully apparent.
It’s my husband.
My husband is dying.
I knew it even then.
I knew it even when the doctor denied it, even when my husband banished me from the bedroom so they could consult in private. I knew he would hide it from me because I would do the same for him.
And I do what I would do next because I know, somehow I know, if the situation was reversed, he’d do the same for me. If I was dying, if every breath I took was a breath closer to the last rasping, aching one that would send me out of this world and to whatever the fuck comes after it, he would do the same for me.
So I ask her.
I don’t know what makes me ask her.
It’s just one day after I close up. I lock the door. She’s somehow still there; she’s always there. She’s there when I go to shut the door and she’s there when I wipe down the counter and she’s there when I wipe the last of the dirty tumblers and set them on the shelves to dry overnight.
The bar was in my family. It belonged to my uncle. He left it to me when he died because he hated everyone else.
I don’t blame him.
He left it to me even though I didn’t need it.
Back then, I didn’t need the money.
My husband was rich.
I married rich. But that was secondary.
Because I loved him.
No matter what anyone says, no matter how much my family clawed and spat and no matter how much my Mama cursed me and to this day still hasn’t spoken to me, I loved him. It was worth it. I loved that man.
So I knew I had to kill him.
The money was gone.
He got sick and we spent all the money trying to make him better and so now all the money was gone and he was still sick and he was dying. It was time to really face that. It was time to really understand that. My husband was dying. So I went to work in the bar, I went to run the bar and suddenly it was our only source of income. All the money I made—and the money was shit—went to keeping him alive for just one more day.
But that night I turned around. And I saw Agnes sitting there. Agnes, somehow always there. Agnes, somehow a part of my life. She went from being just a face at the end of the bar to someone I walked up to. Someone I sat down in front of. Someone I took hold of—took both her hands in both of my hands—and cried. Don’t really remember the last time I cried and I certainly haven’t cried after that.
This is what I said. I said, “I need you to help me kill my husband.”
And without even a breath, like she’d been waiting for it her whole life, like she’d just been waiting for me to ask her, like she didn’t need any sort of explanation, she said, “All right, then. Sure thing. When do we do it?”