The wax on the candles had begun to run a little long before Max had even begun to question his plan. He was meant to be out of town, but had gotten back early, early enough that he could get into the apartment before Lisa would get off work. Struck by inspiration from the frayed edges of their relationship, he ordered a to-go meal from her favorite restaurant, unfurled the tablecloth, laid out the candles. But she was late, and he was still waiting, left to wonder what an unhappy wife got up to while her man was out of town.
He dodged into the closet when he heard her finally buzz in, the walls so thin you could hear everything from the adjacent stairwell. Over her footsteps her voice carried up to him. She was speaking to someone and, for a moment, he imagined that he had caught her with an illicit lover, his surprised turned disaster. The conversation, though, was one-sided, and he breathed a sigh of relief, realizing she was talking on her mobile. “And you’re sure?” she whispered as she entered. The door closed, she added, “I just slip this into his food and he drifts off?”
Max stayed in the closet, piecing together what Lisa was saying as she rounded the corner into the kitchen, her last words out before she saw his surprise, “I don’t want him to suffer.”