Written for the mini-competition on this site.
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Waiting for News
It’s been three weeks. At night, I can’t sleep. Images run through my head: You with the kids, holding them as newborns, playing in the yard when they were older. Their squeals of delight echo in the emptiness of the house and my mind. It feels as if inside and outside my head have traded places and the memories are more real than the heavy, aching silence of each half-lived day. I can’t bear the sullen, tearful faces as the children trudge through their day. Mark is barely functioning, while Lissa, as always, makes a token effort to keep up with her schoolwork. I don’t have the energy to help them and I’m shocked to find myself wishing them gone, wishing them unborn.
The police are coming round less often than they did in the first few weeks. They say they have no leads. No one saw anything, no one knows anything. And I’m still waiting. I’m angry, no, furious. How could you? Why? I remember the week before all of this. We went to the water park with the kids – our first day together as a family in many months. I watched you playing with them, watched you holding Lissa tightly down the water slide, her young, slim body leaning against yours for protection. Watched Mark competing for your attention. And you giving his head a rub before going down the slide again. Was there even such a day, or did all time start from the moment you were gone, all else before wiped out like a picture deleted from my laptop? Oh God, I’m still waiting! Holding my breath in fear and hope.
There’s a knock at the door and I open it to find a policeman standing there.
“Mrs Jones, “We think we may have found your husband.”
My legs go weak and I clutch the door to keep myself standing. All I can do is croak out the word, “Think?”
“Yes ma’am.” He takes my arm solicitously. “Shall we go into the living room? Then you can sit down and I can explain. Would you like a cup of tea?” He sends his partner to the kitchen to make that eternal panacea. I sit on the edge of the sofa and watch the sergeant’s face. He’s speaking, but the world seems to have receded and his voice is distant and faint. I frown. I can’t understand what he’s saying.
“Mrs Jones!” He shakes my shoulder gently.
“I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
“Could you take a look at this photo, please. Is this your husband?”
I peer at the mugshot he hands me. Blonde hair, blue eyes defiantly looking into the camera. It’s you, but…there is something about the face. I hand back the photo.
“What did he say? Where did you find him”
“Well, that’s the problem. He says he doesn’t know who he is. And he was caught with an underage girl in what can only be called a compromising situation. I’m so sorry ma’am.”
I take the photo and look at it again, steeling my heart against those eyes.
“Yes, that’s him.” And I breathe again.
They’re gone now, and I think back to the moment this nightmare started. I came home early, excited to be able to spend some extra time with you and the kids. I opened the door and the house was quiet, deathly quiet. Then I heard a moan.
“No daddy!” Low and quiet and terrified, followed by soft sniffing tears. Before I knew it, I was at the bedroom door, blood running cold and a loud singing in my head. I remember your hands, huge and hairy against her pale skin.
And your eyes as you realised I was there, your pupils widening in shock. The bile rises in my stomach every time that image sharpens on the screen in my mind. How could you!? I don’t know how I stayed calm, but I managed to take Lissa to her friend’s house and they didn’t question my request for them to keep her for the night. I sent Mark to Peter’s house and then I came back for you. Why did you stay? Why did you try and justify what you did? You should have run while you had the chance!
The kids need me now more than ever. Just as soon as the court case is over, I’m going to get a divorce, sell up and move far away from that bog at the bottom of the hill. Far away from you, Curtis Jones, and your doppelganger sitting in prison.
Copyright M Brizzolari 2014
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