A very short account of the murder of one Susan Meyers

Beth stood in front of her bathroom mirror, her jet black hair undone, eyes red, and naked. She kept splashing water from the open tap on the mirror, which was being fogged up by the steam from the hot shower, to get a clearer view. She twitched her neck slightly to the left. It was a quick, involuntary movement that made her look much like a startled pigeon. Her mouth was slightly open, with the lower jaw hanging slightly to the left, like a jewelry box which wouldn’t shut properly because of loose hinges. “Susan is such a bitch”, she kept murmuring under her breath. “A wise-ass, know-it-all! She can fool everyone with her silly pigtails and pretentious skirts, but she ain’t fooling me”, she kept on saying, her teeth grinding all the while like a scraper at work, until she spat hard on the mirror. Beth had come home late from work, angry and exhausted. She had yet again spent an extra three hours at the office to complete a job that her boss had assigned her. She had dragged herself up the stairs to her dimly lit apartment, and flung herself onto the shabby bed, where she laid for a whole five minutes before pulling herself up to get washed.

Beth was a silent girl with eyes that looked like she was always trying to come out of something, confused and disconcerted. She had no immediate human company other than an old aunt, who lived in the country. The only times she felt human presence in her life were when she would receive a yearly Christmas card from her aunt, or when she was hollered at from some alleyway, while walking around at night. She liked doing that, staring at the lights that came from the shabby buildings and apartments all around her. She had always wondered why the light decided to stay in the crumbling apartments when it had all the world to travel around. Beth had entered her new job around five months back, and had been a quiet presence in the office too. It was almost as if she was a shadow. No one seemed to notice her, even when they were looking her in the eye. The initial sadness on not being recognized, and not having friends, made way to self-loathing. She started finding reasons for the behavior of her colleagues. She told herself that it might be because she was too quiet, or because she was too shabby. She had a minor drinking problem, which was the result of a bad past and a worse present, but she tried her best to keep it hidden from her colleagues. Once the phase of self-loathing passed, she happened to lay her eyes on Susan. To Beth, Susan was everything she was not, and she now had good reason to focus all her hatred and anger on Susan.

Susan was the perfect woman, according to anyone she was ever acquainted with. Her being the employee-of-the-month consecutively for the six months since she joined the Company hadn’t stopped her from being the most liked person among her colleagues. She carried her popularity like a crown, but without the air of a college cheerleader. She was a natural leader who was a part of everything that went on in the office, but without any desire to project herself. Her neatly plated hair with short bangs, the angelic face that was too kind and forgiving, the frock dresses that reached below her knee and the stockings that reached above, and the knitted overalls she frequently wore, gave her the disposition of one of those perfect Catholic wife characters that one would see only in movies. All that was missing was a Bible! Susan’s eyes reached every nook and corner of the office. She always had the perfect reaction for every occasion. She was there, beaming with pride when Edward told her that his daughter had come out top in her class. Her eyes shed a couple of involuntary tears when Sarah told her about the passing of her dog, Sarah herself not doing so. She would laugh out loud in gatherings, and would blush and timidly walk away if someone cracked an indecent joke. Her superiors being delighted with her performance at work was just icing on the already succulent cake of her existence.

But Susan had a minor flaw!, a black dot on an otherwise perfectly white sheet that she tried hard to hide with the only fake smiles and words she had ever smiled or spoken in her rigorously religious life. She despised Beth, although she never fully understood why! She thought that Beth was shabby, which she was. She believed that Beth was an alcoholic, which she was. Very often, she would almost detect the faint smell of stale rum on Beth’s breath, which she immediately repelled with her pocket perfume and a furtive glance at Beth herself. Sometimes, the both of them would be together among a group of lively colleagues and Beth would be trying hard to come up with a funny anecdote or limerick, craving attention, when Susan would cut her off even before she could bring out her first two words. Beth wondered how Susan always knew when she was about to speak; and Susan thought it was a kindness that she showed to her weird colleague, whom she was sure would become the laughing stock of the group if she uttered even a word. Beth was probably the only human being who believed that Susan was evil. Susan towered over her like a giant shadow, scaring and antagonizing her to her core.

It is very difficult to comprehend the amount of hatred that would make someone murder another human being. Hatred, as an emotion, could not summarize what Beth felt towards Susan, when she decided to take her life. The decision in itself, was not an easy one. However, by the time Beth began planning it out, she found out that things were working out by themselves so perfectly that she even began wondering whether Susan herself was working along with Beth’s plan to murder her, especially from the ease with which Beth was able to duplicate a key to Susan’s apartment, leave the office early and hide under Susan’s bed. She felt a curious excitement while waiting for Susan, holding the surgical blade that she had managed to procure from a shady chemist’s shop in the alley. She has ensured that the blade was sharp enough by slicing herself on her left arm, as if she were practicing her act for the day. The careful footsteps that she took walking behind Susan as she undressed herself and headed for the shower, surprised Beth. She was too close to Susan that she was almost walking beside her. Beth remembered with a sly grin on her face that being unnoticeable had finally paid off. While blood sprayed along the red line that the scalpel created on Susan’s neck, Beth remembered thinking that it was not how she had imagined the scene would be. She had pictured a more uniform flow down the neck rather than the random spurts, gushes, sprays and even a slight ‘pop’ when she cut through the windpipe.

‘Susan Bethany Meyers’, the reporting officer’s narrative from the murder report read, ‘was found with a scalpel in her right hand and a deep incision across her neck. Among other bruises is another deep incision on her left arm.’ It went on to read that there were no signs of breaking in at the apartment and no foreign fingerprints other than the victim’s. No one at the office could contemplate why the lovely Susan had killed herself. A few days later, the local police arranged a short session for Susan’s colleagues with her psychiatrist in which the doctor tried explaining the drama that unfolded. Most of them wondered loudly about the kind of trauma that a seemingly sorted out person such as Susan must have gone through, to commit suicide. Yet a few others tried understanding the words of the doctor about the importance of mental health. Very few could wrap their heads around seemingly simple words like ‘dual personality’, that the doctor spoke about in her session. No one had heard of a woman named Beth.