Authors: V T Turner
When she locked up for the night she stopped outside the building and glanced up at the dull facade. She imagined it completely derelict, the business bankrupt, the building falling into disrepair. She imagine the lives it would damage; imaged how much Matthews would be destroyed to see his business empire and personal life crumble into one shitty mess.
When she turned around and headed for her car, she was grinning.
They went to the same place as the night before and shared a friendly drink without the fear of being interrupted by Sissy as on the previous evening. Mark put her at ease and she stopped worrying about Matthews and Sissy. After they had a drink, after they shared some smiles and light conversation, Mark decided to call Matthews; get it out of the way so they could enjoy their night.
She watched the cheeky smile on his face as he made the call, saw the smile switch to a serious and sombre note as he tried to gather himself. It rang for a while, he raised his eyebrows at her playfully, was about to comment on the length of the call when someone on the other end picked up.
His eyebrows arched into a frown at the sound of the voice. “Hmm, I’m looking for Ian?” he said.
Shelly shifted closer, strained her ears to pick up any of the conversation on the other end. She could hear some high pitched noises that sounded like sirens, could hear a rasping, agitated voice. She couldn’t make out anything coherent.
“Okay, sorry. I’ll--yes--ok.”
Mark ended the call, stared at the phone in his hand before slipping it into his pocket and slowly turning his attention to Shelly who was waiting with bated breath.
“Well?” she asked, curious and eager to know.
Mark was taken aback, he took a few moments to gather himself. “That was his wife,” he said, before adding: “I think.”
He nodded. “It was a woman anyway.”
“What did she say? Was Matthews there?”
Mark looked at her, didn’t speak for a few moments as his mind processed something. “I think something's wrong.”
He shook his head. “I heard the sirens, heard a lot of shouting. There were men in the background. His wife, or whoever it was, seemed breathless and agitated. She didn’t say anything but something was wrong.”
“What do you think happened?”
He shrugged. “From the sounds of it, I think our boss ran into a spot of bother and I don’t think he’ll be hearing your story tonight.”
She sat on the edge of the bed, her hands on her stomach, feeling the imagined contours; the shape of her unborn baby.
The party had begun outside the door, another session of drink and loud music arranged by her flatmate Julie for a handful of her friends. She had asked Sissy if it was okay -- it was a work night after all -- but she didn’t mind. It wouldn’t matter either way.
She had also asked Sissy if she wanted to join in. She would have to forego the booze for the sake of the baby, but, Julie promised, she could have just as much fun with a cup of tea; enjoying the music and the company without the sedation.
She refused the offer, she was in no mood for partying. Luckily for her Julie hadn’t asked about the mark on her face, hadn’t even noticed it. Nor had she noticed when Sissy took one of the bottles of wine laid out on the counter. She had stuffed it under her top on her way upstairs. There was a mirror at the top of the stairs and she paused to look at herself, at the bulge underneath the top. She imagined herself in a few months, imagined the bulge to be the baby and not a bottle of wine. But that image was never going to come true now, not after what had happened outside the pharmacy.
She took the bottle from the floor, broke the seal on the cap. She sniffed it, tasted it. It was cheap and nasty wine, but it would do the trick.
She looked at her phone, one last check to see if he had tried to get in touch with her, if he had sent her any texts or voice messages, pouring his heart out with apologies and regrets.
There was nothing there.
She took a bottle of painkillers from her pocket. Like the wine, they were also cheap and nasty, but they would do the job. She tapped a few into her hand, knocked them back with a mouthful of wine and then repeated the process until the bottle of pills was empty.
She sighed, burped and then drained the bottle of wine, letting it, and the empty bottle of pills, fall to the floor as she lay back gently on the bed and awaited her fate.
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