Carl’s fingers clicked away on the keyboard, his eyes flew back and forth, scanning and re-scanning the code. His left cheek twitched, tugging the edge of his lips up ever so slightly, leaving him smiling half smugly and half mischievously.
Sam hated to see him like that. She usually found him very attractive, but when he was smiling in the glow of the monitor, she could truly see that he was ugly inside and out. She stuck around because he was good to her and she knew she could do worse. She had before.
Usually, Sam made sure she was out of the house during his more nefarious activities. If she didn’t see him working then it was easier to fool herself about where the money came from, about the type of man he was.
“How much longer?” Her question was a whisper.
“I just have to manipulate a couple more lines of code and then our bank accounts will be full again.”
Sam looked away. A single tear broke free and slid down her cheek. She watched it fall to the carpet, free. The lights of a car driving down their street poured through the window and splashed across the walls. It glinted off the array of diamonds she wore atop her fingers, wrapped around her wrists, hanging from her ears, and dangling from her neck.
The sparkling light distracted her and she smiled. She had many pretty things. She wanted for nothing. But, her eyes did not match the smile. They were empty, matching the darkness casting long shadows across her soul.
“Done,” Carl finished with a flourish of key strikes.
He grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair he’d been sitting at and fished his arm around Sam’s as they made their exit. A happy couple.
“What do you want to buy today, Darling?”
She smiled at him, genuine except for her eyes, as they stepped onto the street. A new life, she thought. “Something pretty,” she said.
Word Count: 333
This bit of flash fiction was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:
2a : to manage or utilize skillfully
b : to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage
3: to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose : to doctor
What would you manipulate? Write it up, link it up, and post it up.