Peer Review by lizbadiz (United States)

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Perfectly Normal

By: hmkeselman


    Mr. and Mrs. Smith were a perfectly normal couple. They lived in an average sized house in the most average of neighborhoods. Mr. Smith woke every morning, showered, shaved, and dressed. He would choose a tie, and put on his suit jacket. He slid his feet into his gleaming dress shoes and padded down the stairs.
In the kitchen, Mrs. Smith bustled around, making breakfast. Two eggs, a piece of toast, and a cup of coffee. Mr. Smith liked it black. She hummed as she cooked, her apron bare of any spots. Mr. Smith greeted his wife, and inhaled the smell of coffee brewing. It was a regular morning. A normal morning.
    The toaster dinged, and a piece of bread sprung free, golden and crispy. At the sound, Mr. Smith took a seat at the table, and unfurled the day’s newspaper. It was all good news. Mrs. Smith silently placed a full plate in front of Mr. Smith. The steam from the coffee fogged up his glasses, and for a moment, he could not read the stories about winning sports teams and new restaurants. But the steam faded away, and soon he returned to the paper. Mrs. Smith began to clean up the kitchen. Not that it needed it. Aside from the dishes, there is was not a spot or stain in sight.
Mr. Smith checked his watch, and frowned. He hurriedly finished his breakfast, and stood up, the newspaper crumpling slightly in his hand. He brushed nonexistent crumbs off his shirt and began to head for the door.
    “Oh!” Mrs. Smith bursted out. She hastley ran to the counter. “I almost forgot. It is your boss’s birthday, right? I thought we should make his day special.” She pressed a pie pan into her husband’s hands, her glossy nails scraping his skin. The top of the pie was covered in a gingham cloth, a pattern of brazen red and white checks. Mrs. Smith smiled at her husband, white teeth shining through lips as red as the pie covering. “It’s apple.” This she said as a whisper, as if secret slipping between the spouses.
    “Oh thank you, dear. Yes, birthdays should be grand. I’m sure the men at work will enjoy it. They always love your baking. My boss, especially.” Mr. Smith returned his wife’s sly grin. “After all, who doesn’t love a delicious apple pie?” And with that, he planted a kiss on his wife’s cheek, and left for work.
    It was a seven minute walk from the Smith’s house to the train. Every morning, Mr. Smith would take the second train of the day into the city, so he could be the first one in the office. It was early, but he didn’t mind. The coffee and… other things kept him awake as he walked to the station. Once there, he fumbled with the paper and the pie, rifling through his coat pocket to find his ticket. After a minute of jumbling tissues, and keys, he produced the paper, which a worker punched with a satisfying snap. The sound cut through air like a knife going through Mrs. Smith’s buttery pie crust.
    Mr. Smith thanked the worker, and took a seat, placing the pie adjacent himself. He crossed his leg and flattened his newspaper. He had left one article for the ride, just as he did everyday. On this Wednesday, he read a piece about the new school being built in his neighborhood. It was fascinating. He would have to remember to bring it up at dinner. Yes, he thought. That will be an interesting topic to talk about.
    He had just finished the last word of his article when the train pulled into the stop with an agonizing roar. The wheels screeched against the track, crying out in anguish. But the train’s pain was short lived, and soon, Mr. Smith ambled down the busy street with hundreds of other business people, ready for yet another perfectly normal day at the office.
    Mr. Smith walked the four blocks with purpose, the pie held in both hands. He feared that he might drop the cumbersome baked good. The checkered covering swayed with each step, and he continually had to pull it over to one side, no matter how carefully he trudged. It annoyed him to no end. A more insane person would have thought that the fabric was mocking them, the way it bunched and folded. But Mr. Smith was not an insane person, and instead, he took to muttering unsavory words under his breath the rest of the way to the office.
    Work was the same as it was each day. The doorman was slightly too loud when he greeted Mr. Smith, and the man winced his way to the elevator. Shining doors dinged as they opened and closed, bringing Mr. Smith to the eleventh floor. He stepped on to the plush tan carpeting, stopping to greet fellow employees as he made his way to his office. It took thirty one steps from the elevator to the door of his office, and today was no different. Thirty one steps and seven “hellos” later, he shut the wooden door to his office, and began to work.
    Everything was in perfect order on his desk. The knick knacks and photos of him and Mrs. Smith lined the sleek surface. He smiled as he lowered himself into his chair, and settled into his work. The pie sat, a waiting client, but Mr. Smith had more important people to call that morning. He would get around to the pie.
    Mr. Smith worked in his office until lunch time, a time marked by the ever increasing ticking of his watch. When he eventually gave in to the noise, and glanced at his wrist, he saw that it was quarter past noon, and time for his lunch break. On the way out of his office, he grabbed the pie. Lunch, he thought, seemed a fine time to eat it.
Mrs. Smith had packed him a sandwich, which he brought to the small table set up in the break room. Many of his colleagues were already seated, and looked up when he entered. He joined them in their conversation, laughing and joking along with them. It was especially funny when one man spilled some of his soup on his tie. He made some remark about keeping an extra in his office just for times like these, which Mr. Smith and the other workers found quite funny. As the hour began to tick to a close, Mr. Smith offered the men some pie.
    “I told my wife it was the boss’s birthday, and she got it in her head that something special must be done.” This caused more laughter. “Well, she finally convinced me that it was important, so I brought in this pie she made. Now, I’m getting fat from all her cooking, but would you boys like some?” He said this with a grin, patting his stomach for emphasis.
Mr. Smith’s colleagues were quick to accept, saying their wives were the same way, but none were as good cooks as Mrs. Smith. While they were eating, Mr. Smith’s boss came in. He said he had heard laughter, and as he loved a good joke, came in to see what’s going on.
    One worker replied, his mouth full of pie. “Smith’s wife heard it was your birthday, and got all sentimental and made pie for all of us to celebrate.”
    “Pie? My wife has been on my case about going on a diet. But one piece can’t hurt. Cut me a slice, John.” The boss clapped Mr. Smith on the back. Mr. Smith cut his boss a piece, and wished him a happy birthday. Mr. Smith’s boss did not bother with a “thank you” as he walked out of the breakroom. Mr. Smith watched him leave, his eyes lingering on the doorway for a moment after the boss was out of sight.
    The pushing back of chairs broke his gaze. Dress shoes scuffed the ground as the employees stood up, ready to return to their work. “The pie was wonderful. Tell your wife she can bake for us anytime,” voiced a colleague to Mr. Smith as they too left the breakroom. Mr. Smith grinned at him, a wide toothy smile.
    “I’m glad. She’ll be overjoyed to hear that the pie was a success.” Mr. Smith walked back to his office. On the way, he passed his boss’s office. He took a quick glance inside. His boss was sitting with his hands on his temple’s and his eyes were closed. His empty plate sits next to him, a fork resting across it.
    Back in his office, Mr. Smith answered calls and fills out paperwork for the rest of the day. When the clock hit a sharp five o’clock, he got up from his chair, straightened a picture on his desk, and put on his coat. He picked up the now empty pie pan, and left the office. The walk to the elevator was full of seventeen nods and good nights to colleagues, but the elevator itself was devoid of other people.
    The train ride home was equally quiet. He simply sat and stared into space, seeing as he had finished reading the newspaper. There were only two other passengers in his car, a woman who was reading a book, and a young man who was talking on his cellphone. Mr. Smith found it rather obnoxious, but he endured it. The train ride was not too long that he could find it overly annoying.
    When the train screeched to his stop, he got off and walked the seven minutes home. There, he and Mrs. Smith spent the evening eating the dinner she slaved over all day, and made small talk about work. As they enjoyed a cup of coffee after their meal, the conversation turned toward pie. The peculiarity of discussing anything besides how their days were, combined with the coffee, were enough to make the couple flush in the face.
    “My colleagues enjoyed it. They said it was wonderful.” Mr. Smith paid the compliment between sips of coffee.
Mrs. Smith beamed. “Oh good! So they ate it?” Her cheeks were flushed pink, as round as apples.
“Not a crumb was left.”
    The next morning, Mr. Smith awoke when his alarm blared. He showered, shaved, and got dressed. On that Thursday, he chose a red tie to go with his black suit and white shirt. He walked downstairs. His dress shoes made an unnecessary clomping sound. Mrs. Smith was already bustling around in the kitchen, and the room was warm from the working stovetop. His coffee and newspaper sat waiting for him at the table. He said a quick “good morning” to his wife, and sat down, his dress pants creasing at the knees. He sipped his dark drink as he waited for his breakfast. Mrs. Smith placed the plate in front of him, but he did not glance at the food. The headline of the newspaper was not good news. “Twenty Office Workers Found Dead From Poison,” it read.
    Mrs. Smith peered over her husband’s shoulder. Her lips were pulled into a painted smile. “Aren’t those your coworkers, dear?” She questioned.
    “Why, yes. I think you’re right.” Mr. Smith turned his head to face Mrs. Smith.
    “Do you think it was my pie?” Mrs. Smith exclaimed. Her face crumpled in sorrow but her mouth was frozen in her perpetual grin.
    Mr. Smith didn’t answer, and the couple went on with their morning routine. Mrs. Smith cleaned with a vengeance, but there was no use. The kitchen was as clean as always. Except for the pie pan in the sink. That was left, full of crumbs.

Message to Readers

This was a piece I used for a writing application. I liked it and I wanted to share. Not my best work, but it's kind of snazzy :).

Peer Review

I could kind of tell from the beginning that something was up, but the ending still surprised me!

I love the imagery you used. I could very clearly see the story happening

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