Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

30 Dec 2014

Flat 19A - If You Don't Know Me By Now

you always hear them say this,
whenever they've survived some great natural disaster,
or a terrorist attack, or a nuclear explosion,
or even when they've won the bloody EuroMillions.
"it was just an ordinary morning;
no different from any other day."

Jean's husband had been up and about for thirty three minutes:
singing out of tune to Absolute Radio
and forgetting to rinse the shower.
thirty three wasted minutes of usual fucking uselessness before Jean managed to conjure up the strength to drag herself out of bed;
gradually subtracting from the morning's "to do" list,
until she was left only with the absolute necessities.
the barefaced ugliness of adulthood's duties.

the first thing she notices as her legs swing out,
is how cripplingly cold it is in the world outside the duvet.
her bed, so recently as cosy as a womb,
is now a fond and distant memory.

she ties her hair up in a bobble.
showers. exfoliates. moisturises.
dresses. chomps on some toast.
grabs her keys.
kisses the useless fucker on the cheek.
and then rushes through the door.

the unforgiving February morning:
eyebrow raised, smugness sharpened, tapping at the watch on its wrist.
rewarding Jean's negligent lethargy
with an unprecedented parade of permatanned housewives:
faffing on the roads in four by fours
that've never seen worse than a pothole;
just so little Henry doesn't have to stretch his legs.

and when dawn broke that morning,
it left a thick layer of frost
on the windscreen of the brand new Toyota.
purchased three weeks ago,
apparently on a whim,
with the savings that she'd sidelined
for a sojourn in Seville.

Jean checks the time.
she curses at herself for running late once again.
dreading what smarmy retort she'll have to tackle as she tries to sneak unnoticed,
slipping a pre-booted laptop onto her desk and pretending to be on the phone.

she turns the key in the ignition.
that fucking Simply Red CD is in again.
she rummages through the glove box:
The Lighthouse Family, Rush, Oasis.
what a load of old toss.

Jean hears an ambulance race past
and instinctively glances up.
but what she sees, instead of a flash of blue lights,
is her life,
gradually unfolding,
at glacier pace:
the frost
on the windscreen
creeping up;
a millimetre
every second,
only to reveal
two footprints.
two female footprints,
pressed up,
against the glass.

two sizes or so smaller than her own feet, at a guess.
much bigger than her six year old niece's.
and left there,
quite clearly,
whilst her husband nipped out to the 24 hour Asda
for his pack of Ibuprofen.
a forty minute journey less than three miles down the road.
his own sick revenge,
for her weary refusals,
owing to the fact that she'd a headache?
or a clumsy instinctive cover-up on receiving a dirty text?

the first thing she thinks to do,
after switching off Mick Hucknall,
is to scan the car for knickers.
whoever the little wench was
(and you'd better believe she was a worthless little wench),
there's every chance she'll have left a souvenir
that the good for nothing scum bag will have clumsily forgotten to retrieve.

all that Jean can picture,
whenever she closes her eyes,
is Mark,
her husband,
of eight and a half years;
removing the knickers
with his crooked grin,
tossing them aside,
reaching for his zip,
and then lowering the seat whilst she fumbles with his buttons.

his broad, smooth shoulders,
flexing as he supports himself.
banging his head on the sunroof.
his finger in her mouth
as he silences the giggles.
the sweat on his brow.
his whispered instruction not to scratch,
so as not to be leaving any trace.

and the face that he pulls,
that only she should know:
jaw slightly clenched,
lip slightly curled,
teeth slightly showing,
bottom lip idle,
as he loses himself inside her.

that face that she might have seen,
as he fucked her in some lay by,
whilst Jean spread out in slumber,
in a king sized quilt cocoon.

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