by Angela Wright
Facing his wife Isabel’s sullen scowl as he flopped down exhausted into the armchair, he felt his defences slipping. The nature of his work was supposed to be kept secret, but it had been a long gruelling day. Isabel had had many lonely hours to work herself up into a state of righteous indignation. She wanted to know what project at work was more important than coming home to her, his bride of only six months. Too many late evenings, too many weekends spent working overtime, and too many nights where he was too tired to do more than fall wearily into bed and go straight into a heavy slumber.
He placed his hand on the small phial of white tablets which lay hidden in his jacket pocket. Isabel’s sharp eyes noticed.
‘What is in your pocket?’ she demanded.
He sighed, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hands.
‘The project I have been working on.’
He placed the bottle on the coffee table between them.
There was no going back now. He carefully kept his voice in a flat monotone as he explained it was a truth drug, being worked on to be used in criminal investigations. Half an hour after taking one of the truth tablets a person could do nothing but tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God.
She snatched the bottle. Before he could stop her she had washed a white pill down with the remainder of her coffee.
They sat in silence looking at each other, as the mantle clock ticked away the minutes. After about thirty minutes Isabel leant forward.
‘I think your pill is working,’ she smiled in triumph. ‘I can now tell you that I don’t love you, and I only married you for your money. You are self-centred and totally without any physical attraction or endearing personality traits. I intend to go back to my former boyfriend. I have started an affair while you have been working on your boring little pill.’
‘I don’t believe you,’ he said calmly.
‘I’ve just taken your truth pill − so you are saying it doesn’t work?’ she sneered.
‘On the contrary, it does work,’ he said calmly. ‘But you have just taken a placebo.’