John Greco
4 min readJan 5, 2024
Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

It was the reason we never had kids. Mel, aka Melissa, did not trust herself as a mother. She knew, and I soon learned a baby would never have lasted long without some sort of severe injury that would have maimed or even worse, killed him or her. No, it would not have been intentional, more accidental, nevertheless dangerous.

Mel was a bumbler, a klutz, a bull in a china shop. Call it what you will. Mel was a major disaster area. There were signs when we first began dating. For example, she could not dance, tripping all over herself and me. Because of that, we rarely went dancing after that first time. On another date, I bought us ice cream cones and soon after a few licks, there was ice cream dripping all over her blouse. Then there were the times we ate out. Food dropping onto her skirt was a certainty. Kidding, I said her dry-cleaning bill must be expensive. We laughed.

In the beginning, I thought it was cute. After all, I was in love and none of those incidents nor others mattered. On our wedding day, Mel tripped over her floor-length gown, fortunately not hurting herself. Later, during the traditional cutting of the wedding cake, she almost did the untraditional act of slicing off one of my fingers! It was that close. And of course, a bit of cream from the cake made its way to her gown. Later that night, her brother Robert wished me good luck. “You’re going to need it, married to Butterfinger.”

I laugh, but he was serious.

Now, twenty years later, we are still married, and still alive after years of accidents, most minor but others more serious. One incident involved a big splat of olive oil that dripped all over the kitchen floor. Mel absentmindedly forgot about it, but I found it after slipping, and fracturing my wrist. Then there was the carving knife Mel dropped while cutting up the Thanksgiving turkey. The knife landed point first on my shoes almost slicing off one of my toes. Mel was always sorry, apologizing, crying for forgiveness, which I always gave. I knew none of it was intentional and I was in love.

However, the incidents: the tripping over wires, the dropping on the floor of my expensive watch, the spilling of hot coffee on my lap and so much more became overwhelming. It was all too much. Twenty years of near misses I decided was enough.

Divorce was not an option. Mel came from a family with money, unlike me. Her family always reminded her she married beneath herself. Divorce would mean not only Mel going her own way, but her money and our nice lifestyle, too. That wouldn’t work. What I needed was a natural, accidental death that would mean our wills, which stated the surviving spouse gets all, would remain in effect. I would be set for life, and safe from any further Melisms.

Everyone knew Mel was a klutzy disaster waiting to happen. Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers all knew. A running joke in her family was never letting Mel handle the eggs.

Whatever plan I decided on must be believable as a Melism. A slip and fall down a flight of stairs might work. However, what if she survived the fall? I’d be left with a ton of hospital bills and Mel! Accidentally burning down the house while cooking dinner would be good. Drastic since that would leave me with no house and thousands of dollars in damages. Maybe she could trip, fall, and drown in our pool? No, that wouldn’t work. Surprisingly, Mel was an excellent swimmer. She even won some dumb award back in high school that still hangs on a wall in our bedroom.

Weeks passed, and I could not come up with a plan that would permanently rid Mel from my life and not look suspicious. Should it be this difficult? No!

Simplify! That was the key.

I dropped the banana peel on the kitchen floor. It was six-thirty at night and Mel would soon prepare dinner. No way would she be expecting a banana peel to be there at that time of the day.

“Little late getting dinner started,” she said. “I wanted to first finish my garden work. I picked some fresh tomatoes and watered down the rest with the hose.”

“No problem, Mel,” I smiled.

Fifteen minutes later, in the middle of making dinner, Mel announced. “I need another tomato for the salad. Would you pick one please?”


I went out the back door and immediately tripped over the garden hose that Mel left nearby. My head hit the cement walkway. It was a solid blow.

“She never put that damn hose back where it belongs!” was my final thought.



John Greco

Author of various short story collections including, "Brooklyn Tales," "Harbor House," "Dark Secrets," and "The Late Show."