The Headache

By Susan Brown

The Headache

 

Carla had another of her migraines. The pain had started​​ that morning​​ as she’d​​ blended Les’ protein shake. The​​ predictive​​ aura tingled​​ across​​ her face, making her nearly forget​​ an ingredient. Les tended to get nasty when his morning routine wasn’t exactly​​ the way he liked it, and she didn’t feel she could cope with his temper today.

When did her charming, handsome, perfect husband turn into the cold, demanding man who barely noticed her?

Her hands fumbled as she filled​​ the​​ bottle, dreading the pain to come. He didn’t like​​ conversation​​ in the morning and he​​ got angry when​​ she​​ tried to explain that she​​ could feel another​​ crippling​​ headache starting.​​ 

She’d suffered from​​ occasional​​ migraines for years, but lately the headaches​​ had rolled through her life almost daily. The doctor​​ had​​ said it could be her age,​​ or​​ stress,​​ or​​ some kind of allergy…or something else altogether. He offered nothing really but​​ sympathy and​​ drugs for the pain.​​ So day after day she sat in agony, alone in her​​ million-dollar​​ home.

As it​​ always​​ had​​ over the past couple of years,​​ the headache​​ began​​ where her neck joined her right shoulder – a tightening, a pulling of a muscle into a spasm that corded up her neck and across her skull. The tightening became pain that clawed​​ like a fanged reptile​​ biting​​ into her head, its venom leaking into her system until she felt dizzy and sick.

Today, she’d managed to get through the short list of tasks –​​ buy​​ groceries, pick up her dress and Les’ suit from the cleaners,​​ arrange for the landscapers to mow and mulch,​​ call the carpeting people​​ again​​ to fix the​​ loose​​ edge on the stairs, run to the pharmacy​​ for more pain meds…. All​​ the dreary details that​​ half-filled her days. She tried not to think what her life could have been like before she had​​ given up her career​​ to​​ marry​​ Les,​​ and the migraines had become so much worse.

By the time he came home, she was in white agony, every sound pounding on her face and rolling through her system. She had put​​ on the embarrassingly low-cut dress, but now she was lying on the bed​​ trying to find a position that didn’t hurt.

​​ “Not again.” Les​​ surveyed her coldly – he’d long since used up all his sympathy. “Stupid me, I was counting on you to flirt a little with the old man. He’s a certified skin hound.”

Les’ words​​ rasped against the throbbing nerves in Carla’s head. She pressed a hand to her face and blinked hard, trying to clear the lights​​ flashing​​ in her eyes.

​​ “I’m your wife,” she protested, anger momentarily blocking the worst of the pain. “How do you think I feel​​ when you dangle me​​ like a high-class whore for your clients?”​​ 

​​ “A wife is supposed to support her husband, remember?”​​ Les snapped. “You have to be good for something.”​​ 

He surveyed his wife​​ resentfully. He’d thought he’d scored the gold medal when Carla agreed to marry him – long honey-colored hair, a figure like a​​ locker-room fantasy, and a laugh that was rich and throaty.​​ Possessing a​​ woman like her was the proof​​ his clients needed that he was a winner. That they should invest their fortunes with him.

“I​​ thought my law degree would be an advantage to you,” Carla protested. “That we were going to be partners in every way.” She gave a sad, shaky laugh. “But these headaches are killing me.”

“I know​​ babe,” Les tried to modulate his voice, but he could see that her cheeks were sallow and her eyes bleary.​​ Not​​ sexy. “I support you​​ in luxury,” he coaxed. “You don’t have​​ to do anything except look gorgeous and coo a little over my clients. It’s not like I expect you to sleep with them.”

“You didn’t mind last week when Sean Sark groped me in front of you.”​​ 

Les shrugged.​​ “Business​​ requires sacrifice.”

“My sacrifice,​​ it seems.” Shakily, Carla got to her feet.​​ “I need some water.”​​ She​​ lurched toward the bathroom, clumsily opening​​ the prescription bottle that promised some relief. Les followed her, menacing​​ now, like an angry bodyguard.

“I’m warning you,” he said, voice no longer​​ calm. “This is an important deal and you’d better pull yourself together.”

“Or what?” Carla challenged.

“Or I’ll get a wife that does me some good.” He began to stalk away, face livid.​​ He only needed a good-looking woman – not​​ a wife who thought​​ that she or​​ her brains mattered.​​ “Don’t forget that prenup, sweetheart. You’ll get nothing and good riddance to you!”

She began to call to him.

“Unless you are ready to do everything I tell you,”​​ he snarled,​​ “Don’t talk to me,”

So she didn’t. She leaned against the doorjamb, pain making her thoughts​​ disconnected,​​ sharp and splintered. In silence she watched his foot catch on the loose rug. Without a sound she watched him twist and fall.​​ Without a single​​ anxious word,​​ she walked down the stairs and checked for a pulse.

Vaguely,​​ as she dialed 911,​​ she was aware the biting pain in her neck​​ was​​ subsiding.

Then she sat in an armchair, waiting for her head to finally clear.


About The Author

I love to write! And I love to write for teens. Since I was a kid, bored with school, I’ve been making up stories. Eventually I became a journalist, got married, had kids, adopted dogs and started writing books in earnest. Three followed, plus two more co-authored with Anne Stephenson.

I’ll be publishing a half dozen new books in the next year or two, some fantasy and some realistic which I hope will appeal to teen readers – I’ve had quite a few kids read them and gotten a thumbs up! Check out my website at www.susanbrownwrites.com