She saw the orange Necco wafer on the counter top and started to cry. Neil had his back resting against the kitchen sink, arms folded across his chest. Everything he had prepared to say died on his lips the moment he saw her shoulders crumple, the grocery bags dropping from her hands as she buried her face in her cupped palms. Muffled sobs, so raw, so authentic, he had to fight to suppress his compassion, choosing instead to grip all the tighter to his anger for support. If he wasn't strong she would manipulate him, the way she always did.
She uncovered her face, walked to the breakfast counter, and traced a line around the wafer with her finger. "I can explain-" she began, but he wasn't interested.
"You wanted me to find that," he said, voice low and controlled. "I know what you're going to say but I don't believe you. You wanted me to find that, and you wanted to make me angry."
She couldn't look him in the eyes, kept her gaze on the little orange wafer that bore the three simple words; "I love you".
She glanced up at him, but quickly looked back at the counter. "It was a stupid little... thing. Something he gave me. I shouldn't have kept it."
"It's not about you keeping it, Kathy." He spat the words out. "It's about constantly reminding me. I get it. You loved him and I'm second best."
She shook her head. "No, you don't understand. He wrote that on it for me. I didn't-"
"Not the point, Kathy. Not..." The first thing he saw was a long necked bottle of olive oil. Kathy dodged backwards away from the counter as he swung it down hard, shattering on the wafer, crushing it to dust. The flecks of candy were carried away on rivulets of spreading oil.
She stared at him, eyes wide. Neil squeezed his palm, watched the blood ooze where the breaking glass had gashed his hand. "Not the point," he said. He walked out of the kitchen. A moment later she heard the front door slam and a moment after that the sound of a car pulling away.
Over a day had passed. She was sitting at the breakfast counter, the kitchen dimly lit by the glow from a single under-cabinet light. The radio was tuned to an oldies station and there was a half empty glass of wine sitting next to the square tin where she collected her cake decorating equipment.
Her whole body tensed as she heard the front door open.
"It's only me!" Neil called out. "Kathy? Are you home?" The rest of the house was in darkness.
He flicked on the main light as he entered the kitchen. There was a bright white bandage on his hand. "Oh, there you are."
She got out off her seat.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I get so angry..."
She draped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his chest. He put his arms about her and squeezed.
"What have you been doing?" Neil asked her, looking over her shoulder at the disgorged contents of her decorating tin on the counter. Amongst the items were several little bottles of food colouring, some standing open next to a badly abused packet of Necco wavers.
Kathy disengaged herself unsteadily from around Neil's neck and went to the counter, carefully scooping something up. She presented this to Neil on the palm of her hand.
He looked at the Necco waver. The letters looked as though they had been daubed onto it by a child. "K? Something... N?" His brow furrowed, but he was smiling.
She shrugged. "I wanted it to be nice. Perfect. I tried and tried, but I'm all..." she waved her fingers and thumbs at him. Neil laughed. "So I had a drink. And another drink.... it's supposed to say 'K hearts N'."
"Kathy loves Neil," he said.
She pushed the wafer into his mouth. "You bet she does," she said. She turned up the volume on the radio, letting the swelling notes of the Righteous Brothers envelop them, as she hugged Neil, swaying against him as he swallowed the chalky candy.
Kathy let go of Neil and sat down to wait. 'Unchained melody' was the perfect choice to drown out the sound of him choking. Such conceit. She'd even shown him. The letters on the wafer had spelled out KCN, the chemical formula for potassium cyanide. Best to put them out of their misery when they got hard to control.