Hold Your Enemies Closer

By Susan Usher

Religious wars make enemies of brothers. We were married just one year before my husband was killed in battle by his brother. We were so in love and planning to start a family.  I was beyond grief and schemed retribution.  I had a reputation of chastity and purity and loyalty to my husband to maintain which weakened my opportunity for revenge.

But pay the price I must and to hell with the consequences.  I consider myself to be kind and patient, intelligent and articulate. I also have a very determined streak as my father discovered when I wanted to learn to read as a child.  He refused but I insisted and became aware of the politics happening around me.  As a Bedouin woman, I was confident I would be able to use my learnings to bring my brother-in-law to his day of reckoning. My tent was my castle.

My brother-in-law was a commander in the military and was feted as a great warrior.  But all warriors have their weaknesses and I had to find his. Maybe it was in his inability to see himself as anything other than someone to whom homage was essential.

I prepared my plan.  I would show him I retained no animosity towards him. I would invite him for a meal upon his return from the current hostilities.  I would ply him with the most exquisite Arabian meal of slow roasted lamb with almonds, and rice pudding with stuffed dates,  and offer him the best of castor bean, moonseed and poisonous oleander juices I could create  to salve his palate. As the wife of his late brother, he could not resist such an invitation.

I would ensure my slender bladed, double edged knife, which I kept about my person for protection, was honed to perfection.

He returned to camp from the front, running for his life.  He had suffered defeat and was the worse for wear.  Not the bragging warrior nor the triumphant hero, but a retreating cur; he would play into my hands.  I offered him refuge in my tent and a promise to keep him hidden from anyone enquiring after him.  I was ecstatic.  I must be cautious about how much my pleasure might show.

Within hours I had prepared the meal I had planned.  I fed him plate upon plate and bowl after bowl of the fruits of my duplicity.  I plied him with the most refreshing iced nectar and, finally, offered him my body.

In his satiated state, his reactions were diminished and not at all those of a conquering warrior. It was easy to let him lie on top of me.  I heard the wind outside the tent whipping itself into a frenzy and as it reached its peak, I plunged my wonderful knife into his ribcage from below and watched the life force of his heart empty itself upon the linen.  I would defend myself with the allegation he had forced himself upon me.  My reputation would be intact.

Susan is retired from paid work and living in Queensland, Australia. She writes for relaxation and enjoyment and loves the challenge of writing short stories of less than 500 words.

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