The things I want to say aren’t the sort of things you’re allowed to say out loud. You’re not even meant to think the things I think. But sometimes I think them anyway and sometimes I want to say them, so badly, that my chest fills with this irredeemable rage and I don’t know which way to look.

Life is so strange. People don’t talk about that enough.

My boss killed his wife. He murdered her in broad daylight, after a mundane disagreement, details I can’t even remember and at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. He killed her and now she’s dead and nothing will ever be the same for that family.

They had kids. Babies, with fat little cheeks. Babies, who smelled like sunshine and happiness and burps and sleep and mashed bananas.

He was a nice man. You’re not supposed to say that. But what if it’s true? He was always nice to me. We had fortnightly catch-up meetings where we would talk through how I was feeling, what targets I needed to reach, and so on. I always liked his manner. He was gentle, calm. He was all of the things you don’t expect a murderer to be like. As if there is a set of qualities that makes up a murderer. There can’t be, right?  My boss wasn’t born a murderer. But maybe we all have it in us and maybe tomorrow I will wake up and do the unthinkable. Or did something happen to him to make him that way? Because it’s not as though he planned it. It wasn’t pre-meditated, I read that in the paper – ten minutes of out-of-control fury. He was divorced from reality. He could have just filed for divorce.

My boss had grey hair. Thinning on top. He wore tiny silver glasses. Maybe, in his prison cell, he still does. He was sentenced to twenty-two years. Twenty-two years. Seems like such a random number but apparently it’s not. Apparently, it’s pretty standard. I don’t understand that either. He didn’t mean to do it. Yes, he did it but it was a mistake, he lost control of reality, something inside him flipped. Shouldn’t that count for something? I’m glad he’s locked up. Sometimes I lie awake at night and mutter twenty-two under my breath. I’m not sure why. I guess I find it comforting. I turn the ceiling fan on too, as high as it will go, even if it’s freezing outside. I find that comforting too.

Ever since it happened, I’ve been eating cup noodles for dinner most nights. I like the little sachets of dried vegetables that come with these noodles. Sometimes I don’t even bother boiling water and I eat the noodles and vegetables dry. I make tea as well, tea that is too milky, that tastes thin and watery. It’s what I deserve.

I was a good worker. A hard worker, you know. He used to say that a lot, commended me on my efforts, said he wanted me to know he recognised my work ethic. We went out for cake once, to celebrate my one-year work anniversary. I remember the way he ate his cake with a tiny silver spoon while I used a fork. These are the details I remember. I also remember the way he paid the bill, winking at the server as though they had shared a joke.

I don’t work hard anymore. I barely even work at all. Instead, I sit at my desk and paint my nails. I have black polish and I like the way the brush slides over my nails. The black is so black.

On my last report he wrote that I showed significant promise for a promotion. He said in two to three years I might even be a senior project officer if I played my cards right. I was pleased after that report. I read it numerous times. I was moving up on the corporate ladder. I was going to be someone.  

But sometimes I think about what that day was like. How he stood over her. Because he must have. What was going through his mind? Did he just snap? How can a person snap like that? Can good people even snap? But how am I meant to believe he was all bad? I know, I know. I KNOW.

Goodness and badness. People are made up of something in between, aren’t they? People must exist in the middle of something. He fired Anita last year. He brought her into his office and pointed at a box of tissues and then proceeded to tell her she’d let the side down. Anita came out of the room with red eyes and said she’d never liked the job anyway and good riddance to a toxic manager. Later, after she was gone, he called her a simpering fool, and laughed with his mouth wide open. He didn’t like Anita but he was always kind to me.

The newspaper called him a bad person. HR told us to take the day off.

I ate a lot of potato chips that day. I had a long bath, filled with bubbles and lavender oil. Then I slept all afternoon and watched Netflix all night.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to kill a person. To take a life. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to walk into a bank and shoot. Maybe not even at a person but just the ground. I wonder what it would be like to hold a gun, silvery and smooth between my fingers. I have never held a gun. In fact, I have never seen a gun up close.

I don’t want to kill anyone. That’s not what I’m saying.

The babies. Who has them? Somebody must. I searched the internet for answers but found nothing. Are they crying and screaming out for their parents, or are they silent, eyes dark and staring ahead at nothing in particular? I saw a toy-truck on the side of the road the other day. It was bright red, with yellow splotches, and the road was shimmering in the dazzling sun. It made me think about how anything is possible. Because it’s true, anything is possible.

Did you hear the news

That’s what everybody said. As though it was gossip. I guess it was. Until it wasn’t. Until it was real.

Apparently, my boss was filled with remorse. He cried at his trial. The newspapers reported that, the way his shoulders shook, his head lowered. I was planning to go to the trial. Okay, that’s a lie. But I did think about going, about sitting there and looking into his eyes. He always had soft eyes. The night before the trial I checked the work chat, refreshing Microsoft Teams every other minute but none of my colleagues said anything. It was like it never happened.

The newspaper wrote that he said he was sorry, as though sorry meant something to someone. I read that line over and over and then I slammed my laptop shut because I didn’t want to hear about his remorse. That night his face was splashed all over the TV. I turned the volume up as loud as it would go and listened to the newsreader announce the verdict.

I never met his wife but he had a photo of her on his desk. She was pretty, with thin blonde hair and a dusting of freckles on her nose. They had been married fifteen years.

A cold-blooded killer. A monster. Evil. Violent.

He was none of those things to me – but he was, is, still those things. I can’t make sense of that. Sometimes I don’t want to make sense of it. It’s easier to believe something else. That’s the thing though, what do I believe?






I just want to understand. I want to understand something that can never be understood.

Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Not like that. I don’t know. I’m so scared of being misunderstood, by anyone, by everyone, really. I don’t want people to think I’m excusing what he did. But I can’t help it. This moment now defines him but what about every other moment? What about when he brought me a cup of Earl Grey tea and remembered exactly the way I take it, strong with one sugar and only a dash of milk. Or when he ordered pizza for the office and got it without pineapple, even though he loved pineapple? I want to scream at everyone. But nobody will understand. I know they won’t because I saw the way Monica Dean from Accounts looked at me the other day in the staff kitchen. The way she scrunched her eyes up, her thin lips somehow even thinner, as if she could see what I’ve been thinking, as if it’s imprinted across my face. But I’m not making excuses for him. What he did was unforgiveable. But still. BUT STILL. How can there be a still?


There isn’t

there isn’t

there isn’t


I like it when the air is still. When I can sit outside and everything stays in its position. Sometimes there are no positions. Sometimes things are not what they seem.

Tomorrow I am going to resign. I am going to pack up all my things in a tiny cardboard box, my yellow and black tea pot, my book on tree ferns, my pen holder, and my pot plant. I will put all those things in the box and I will turn my computer off and I will walk out of there and it will be as though as I never worked there, as though I never existed.

Tomorrow, it is meant to rain and I will stand in the rain and I will hold out my arms and I will let the rain fill me up, and I will never say his name again.

I will never say his name again.

Her name though, her name though, it echoes, beats, crashes, through my mind.

I will scream it until tears are running down my face and my eyes are pink and itchy and my voice is hoarse and my throat aches and I can’t speak and even then, I will keep screaming it:




Katelin Farnsworth

Katelin Farnsworth loves writing, reading, bushwalking and travelling. She has been shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize twice and is currently working on a manuscript.

More by Katelin Farnsworth ›

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