This story was written for the Reedsy contest "End of Story".
More specifically in the context of the prompt: "Write a story that ends in the past."
“I see that your name is Karma,” the old nurse said. “That’s an odd name.”
“That’s the name my mother gave me, nurse Fletcher,” the young woman answered.
“Your mother, eh? Didn’t your father have a say when it came to choose your name?”
“My father wasn’t around anymore when I was born, nurse Fletcher. He left my mother the moment he knew she was expecting.”
The old nurse looked up from Karma’s resume.
“That’s a shame,” she said. “One wonders what type of man would make a woman pregnant, and then refuse to take responsibility.”
“I grew up asking myself the same question, nurse Fletcher,” Karma replied.
“You’ve never had a father figure in your life?” nurse Fletcher asked.
“I’m afraid not. Is that a problem, nurse Fletcher?”
“I guess not. You’re not to blame for what your father did.”
“Thank you, nurse Fletcher. Not everyone thinks that way.”
“Don’t worry about it. Us women have to stick together, especially when it comes to dealing with men,” nurse Fletcher reassured the girl while she took another look at the CV in front of her. “You certainly have the right qualifications.”
“I also have a letter of recommendation from my previous employer,” the young woman added, and she handed the document to nurse Fletcher. The woman only read the first couple of lines, and then looked at the name under the signature.
“You come highly recommended. Do you know what your job will entail if we decide to hire you?”
“I would have to take care of mister Ratched while you’re out of state attending to your sister who has fallen ill recently.”
“That’s correct. It’s hard work, but it can be very rewarding. I have been looking after mister Ratched for almost twenty-five years now. I was hired right after he had that horrible accident that left him paralyzed.”
“I read that it was a hit-and-run accident,” Karma said. “Is that true, nurse Fletcher?”
“The car that caused the crash was found, but they never found the owner, nor the person who drove it. It’s such a shame. Mister Ratched had such a promising career.”
The two women remained silent for a moment. Nurse Fletcher broke the silence with a question.
“You know that the job is only temporary, don’t you? You’d be here only to replace me until I return from helping out my sister.”
“I am aware of that, nurse Fletcher, but I’m happy to accept the job anyway, if you would have me,” Karma answered. “I hope your sister recovers soon.”
“Thank you. I hope so too.”
“Hello mister Ratched, my name is Karma.”
“Well hello,” mister Ratched said. “What a sight for sore eyes you are! Are you the girl old nurse Fletcher hired to keep an eye on me while she’s away?”
“I am, sir,” Karma answered.
“You look very young. I feared nurse Fletcher would have hired an old bat just like herself. I’m surprised she did me the pleasure of hiring a pretty young thing like you. How old are you?”
“I’m twenty-four, going on twenty-five, sir.”
“That’s indeed young,” mister Ratched smiled. “Tell me, what do you have in store for me today? A visit to a museum? A walk in the park? Some wild sex, maybe?”
Karma smiled down on her employer.
“Be careful what you wish for, sir,” she teased him, the top buttons of her outfit undone to show cleavage. “You might get it.”
“Ooh-la-la! The girl has spirit! I can hardly wait. Tell me more!”
Karma put on a pair of rubber gloves she took from her pockets.
“I’m going to torture you all day long, sir, until you beg me to kill you,” Karma said with her coldest voice. “Then I’m going to grant you a night to think about your sins. Tomorrow, I’m going to torture you some more, and you’re going to beg me some more. We’ll keep on doing that until I can find enough mercy in my heart to finish you off.”
“Wait, what?” mister Ratched gasped. “You’re kidding, aren’t you?”
Karma didn’t answer. She took the suitcase she had brought with her and opened it so that her victim could see its contents: a complete knife set, pliers, hooks, a bone saw, a pin wheel, and tools mister Ratched couldn’t even imagine what they could be used for. Nothing good, as he would soon find out.
Vanessa welcomed the physical pain of labor. It made her forget the pain of her broken heart for just a moment. She was about to give birth to the child of a man who had dumped her the same day she told him she was pregnant of his firstborn.
She had cursed his name: Bill Ratched. He had promised her the world, and she had believed him. He had showered her with presents; he had even bought her a car —from some shady second-hand car dealer, she realized afterwards. Ironically, she used that gift to accomplish her revenge.
She had hoped to kill him, and to die in the accident herself. As by wonder, she survived the crash she caused, and with her, the child inside her. She dumped the car, leaving no trace that could lead to her.
No one knew she had been dating Bill. He always claimed he didn’t want people to know to protect her against gossip. The tabloids would ruin her life if they knew she was dating the son of one of the wealthiest families in the world. It was better to keep their relationship a secret. At least that’s what he wanted her to believe, and she had been naive enough to fall for his story. How could she have been so stupid?
The day after her attempt to end both their lives, she read in the newspapers that he had survived the collision too. Bill Ratched would never recover from his injuries, though. He would be paralyzed for life.
“I call it Karma,” Vanessa shouted as she pushed the baby out of her body.
The midwife who helped deliver the child thought she was talking about the newborn girl that cried her lungs out.
“What a nice name,” she said, and she wrote it on the wristband for the baby.
Share your comments on this story on Reedsy.