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Retribution - by Lauren Roach

Updated: May 12, 2022

short stories written by black women
Retribution by Lauren Roach

I sat at the kitchen table, the weight of what I had just done finally hitting me. I don't regret it. It had to be done, but that didn't make me feel any better about it. I wanted to be able to close my eyes and this all be a dream. I wanted so badly for all of this to not be real, but it was…

My marriage was over.

Kendrick had cheated on me so many times, it felt almost comical at this point. I couldn't even stomach the thought of him anymore. We had agreed to tell everyone that we were divorcing due to irreconcilable differences, which is technically true. We can't seem to agree on the fact that being married means you should stay faithful. I have. Why can't he? We finally had a big argument about it after tension had been building for months and he drove to the airport last night, to board a late flight to California. He had agreed to go stay with his mother for a little while to give us both some much needed space. The house seemed so empty without him, but I was sort of happy he was gone. A sharp knock at the front door snatched me out of my trance. It was my older sister Molly.

"Hi Clarke. I heard about what happened. Wanted to check on you. How are you?" She reached for a hug, which I welcomed, so she wouldn't see me rolling my eyes. Of course he told her what happened between us. They'd been sleeping together for years. They didn't realize I knew, but neither one of them had been good at keeping secrets. I had caught on almost immediately. It took a lot of effort to keep from slapping her right across the mouth every time I saw her. I offered a tired smile when I pulled back from her hug. Molly meant well. Even if she was a backstabbing whore.

"I'm doing alright. He got on a flight to California late last night. He's gonna spend time with his mom for a bit." Something flickered in Molly's eyes but I couldn't quite place it. Just as quickly as it was there, it was gone. She smiled at me and looked around.

"Well, I won't keep you. I know you have to get to work. Just wanted to stop by and give you a hug." She reached for me again. I was tired of hugging at this point. Tired of pretending like I didn't know what they were doing. It's insulting. Having the nerve to smile in my face like she wouldn't hop on Kendrick at the first opportunity. After she left, I dragged myself into the shower. She was right. I did have to get to work. Life goes on. Even when your marriage crashes and burns.


California? Please. What Clarke didn't know, was that after her husband left her last night with promises of going to see his mother in California, he actually came to my place. The only place he felt like he could truly be at ease. At least that's what he tells me. I smiled to myself as I thought about how Clarke used to always try and compete with me as kids and even on into early adulthood. Little sister always wanted to be like me. Even if she never wanted to admit it. Everything I had, she just had to have one better. Even boyfriends. Clarke was the prettier and more likeable of the two of us. It was irritating being the responsible one all the time while she got to reap the benefits. I was always getting her out of trouble. Clarke was always down for a good time, so of course my boyfriends would forget about me as soon as she came around. When I started dating Kendrick, back in college, she just had to seduce him even though she was still in high school at the time. I couldn't expect mom or dad to step in and prevent little sis from dating a college senior when she was still in high school, they were too busy drinking themselves to death. There was no one to watch her, no one to guide her except me. She ended up spending more time with me and Kendrick than she did at home. So I can't lie and say I didn't see it coming. He broke up with me over text message and had I not been trying to figure out a way to get rid of him before she snatched him, I would have been furious. But he was a sexual deviant and a bully. She took him off my hands. Thanks sis.

Or so I thought.

Soon after he dumped me and married my sister, he came crawling back into my bed claiming that she didn't know how to run a household like I did. That just means she didn't cook, clean, and cater to his every whim like I used to. Even though he was a pig and I really couldn't stand him, something about him drew me in. That's how it always was. He would mistreat me and make me feel small, but would draw me back in under his spell. At the time he came back, I had been pissed off at Clarke for having the nerve to tell me I would always be single because no one would want a someone so serious, and I figured this would be the perfect FU. No one would ever want me, huh? Then why is your husband in my bed, you ungrateful witch? I assumed it would only be a one time thing, but he kept coming back. I couldn't get rid of him to save my life. No matter how much I may have wanted to.

Kendrick had a compulsive need to cheat. He would sleep with anything. It's almost as if he has some type of problem. He cannot keep it in his pants to save his own life. That's how he ended up with my high school aged sister when we were getting ready to graduate with our undergraduate degrees. He couldn't seem to control himself. So I shouldn't have been surprised when I caught him in bed with my 13 year old daughter right? What makes the entire situation even worse, the bastard felt no remorse when I confronted him about it. He knew no one would believe me. No one saw this side of him. Not even Clarke. I tried to warn her before she married him, but she just assumed I was jealous as always. She'd never listen to my advice. She always assumed I was just trying to suck the fun out of everything. After he left her that night, he came crawling back to me, and while we were sitting together watching television, I asked him: "Did you assault my daughter?" I felt him stiffen next to me for a second.

"Assault?" he spat the word as if it tasted bitter in his mouth. I didn't respond, just sat and waited for the answer. I already knew it, just wanted to see if he would own up to it. He stared back at me, but when he realized I wasn't letting up, he titled his head at me and gave me that same sickly grin I had seen so many times. "I didn't assault her. It was mutual. She liked it." I felt the bile rise in my throat.

"Kendrick she is 13 years old. She is a child! She can't consent to anything like that and you know it. You are a grown man. You raped my daughter!" He rolled his eyes and sat up off the couch. Watching him here, I could not for the life of me figure out what people saw in him. What did I see? What did my sister see? This man is the devil. Nothing less. When he looked at me again, I wasn't prepared to see the evil in his eyes. He grinned at me. "Call it what you want. All I know, is that she enjoyed it. I'll do it again. You know I will. To stop me, you'll have to kill me."

So I did.

I'm so sorry, sister.

Watching him bleed out on my living room floor was more satisfying than I imagined it would be. I smiled at how wonderfully this had all played out. I had been trying to figure out a way to lure him over here without arousing suspicion but then he showed up on his own crying about divorcing my sister and having to go to California. It was unbelievably perfect timing. She wouldn't be looking for him for a few days and the rest I could figure out later.

I dragged his body to the back of the house and buried him in the woods, deep enough into the trees that no one would find him if they didn't know where to look. No one ventured out here into these woods because they were so dark and ominous looking even in the daytime. Clarke and I would always joke about how easy it would have been for someone to hide a body back here because everyone was too afraid to be out here. Let's see how true that is.

Thankfully my daughter was staying with her father for a few weeks, just to get away for a bit. She didn't need to see this. She had already been through enough. My eyes teared up thinking about walking in on the two of them and witnessing her struggle under his grip. Neither one of them saw me. It took all of my strength to back out of the room without making a sound. I wanted to kill him then, but I had to wait. I didn't want to let on that I knew. It took a week to convince my daughter's father to take her for a little while so I could handle some things here. It was the longest week of my life. Trying not to kill this man every time he showed up on my doorstep. I don't regret what I did. He deserved it. I would kill him again if I had to, just to protect my daughter. I would always protect my family. I was protecting Clarke too, even if she couldn't see it now. She may not understand why I had to at first, but one day she'll see it from my side. He was a problem that had to be solved. I was the fixer. I fixed the problem. He had to die. As I cleaned his blood from my carpet, making sure to clean every inch of the living room to cover any possible blood splatters, I thought about how much simpler the world would be without him. One less child rapist in the world.

Good riddance, you bastard.


"Alright, get the file together for me before tomorrow. I need to contact the teacher for questioning." I spoke with my assistant as I pulled into the driveway off my home. Today had been an unusually easy day at work. I had so many cases that needed my attention, I had only thought about Kendrick once. Which is pretty good considering. Being distracted when you're trying to conduct an investigation is a recipe for disaster. By the time I got home, it was dark out but there was already a light on in the living room when I pulled up. I sat for a second, trying to remember if I had turned it on before I left. I don't think I did. I had no reason to, it was broad daylight when I left. Once inside the house, I went upstairs to change clothes. I opened the bedroom door and flicked on the light to find Kendrick sitting on the bed, in the dark, facing the window. His posture was unusually straight. He almost looked like a statue. I jumped a little, not expecting to see him there. Wasn't he supposed to be in California? He turned slowly, at the sudden burst of light, and gave me a smile that didn't meet his eyes.

"Hi honey." He stood up and made his way to me. I stood still, completely confused. In all of our years together, this man never called me honey. He always joked that it sounded like we were on a sitcom from the 50s where the woman was expected to have dinner on the table for her husband when he came home. Plus, after last night's conversation, honey is the last thing I expected him to call me.

"Hi. What are you doing here? Did you miss your flight?" It was his turn to look confused. He blinked at me for a second, obviously trying to figure out something to say. "Oh. My flight, right um...yeah I guess I did." He ran a hand over his mustache and shrugged. I caught a glimpse of a scar on his hand that I had never seen before. Had that always been there?

"So what you planning to do then?" I asked him, getting irritated. I had been counting on this time alone to figure out my next moves. After everything I had been through with him, the least he could do was give me that privacy. Before he could answer, he was interrupted by the doorbell. I sighed to myself and left to answer the door, figuring it was Molly again. Back to pretend like she cared. I really didn't have the patience for either one of them at the moment. I just wanted to be alone so I could figure things out, but that was going to be impossible with these two breathing down my neck. When I opened the door, I saw my sister standing there smiling at me holding a carton of ice cream and two spoons. I forced a smile.

"I figured you could use some company." She said. I didn't want company, but I still stepped aside to let her in. As much as she annoyed me, she was my sister and I loved her. Sometimes. That would never change. Maybe. She sat the ice cream on the counter and turned back to me. "How was work? Were you able to stay distracted?" I opened my mouth to answer, but just as I did, the color drained from her face and she let out a startled scream, her gaze fixed on something over my shoulder.

I turned to see what she was looking at. Kendrick stood at the top of the stairs, smiling. It was a grin I'd never seen on him before. A sickly grin. Something sinister lurked behind his expression. He stared directly at Molly. Some odd type of staring contest between the two of them. It was almost as if I wasn't even in the room. My annoyance flared. Did they really have to do this in front of me? I looked back at my sister and was surprised to see her standing with her back pressed against the door, completely ashen and looking like she was going to be sick. This wasn't a look of passion between two secret lovers. This was something else. Something that seemed dangerous.


After work, I figured I could go check on Clarke. That's what good big sisters do right? I picked up a carton of her favorite ice cream from the store. As I drove to her place, I tried to come up with a good excuse as to where Kendrick was. For now, I had some time but eventually she would start questioning where he was. Of course, I'm really not supposed to have anything to do with him other than being his "sister in law" so maybe I didn't need an excuse. If I could keep the suspicion off of me, I would be in the clear.

I arrived at Clarke's house 15 minutes later. It looked similar to mine, just bigger. Of course. Like I said, she had to one up me whenever she could. I shook the thought out of my head before the anger could set in. Now is not the time. My little sister needs me, even if she didn't know it yet. I knocked on the door, ice cream in hand ready to be the comforting big sister. When she answered, the expression on her face was one of annoyance, but I ignored it.

"I figured you could use some company." I said to her, hoping the ice cream would thaw her out a little. Sister always did love ice cream. She sighed a little and stepped aside to let me in. Maybe work was tough today. No matter, we could talk about it while we watched a terrible documentary on Netflix. I placed the ice cream on the counter and turned to her. "How was work? Were you able to stay distracted?" I saw her opening her mouth to respond but anything she said after that was drowned out by the ringing in my ears.




I could feel my blood run cold. A scream pushed it's way out, my mouth suddenly too dry to speak. I could feel Clarke looking at me, wondering why I was reacting this way. I couldn't even tell her why without completely giving myself away. There at the top of the stairs, grinning at me in a way that made my stomach drop to my knees was my very own personal nightmare. There was something dead behind his stare, even though he was smiling.

This cannot be happening. This man cannot be standing here and yet...he was. Smiling at me with that grin I never thought I'd see again, his gaze intense and penetrating. I felt like he could see into my soul. I thought I had gotten rid of him. I killed this man! There was way too much blood loss for him to not have been dead. I was scrubbing my home for hours trying to clean everything up. I had even been down to visit his grave before coming to see my sister, just to make sure. It was undisturbed, tucked deep in the woods where no one would find him. That was Kendrick. Kendrick was dead. I know it in my bones.

So who is this?!


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