What Goes Around...(10)

By: Carol Marinelli

I remember this at nursery school.

We used to lie down and Mrs Lewis would read us a story.

I hated it then too.

All the other children would doze off.

And I’d lie there awake.

Wondering if she’d come.

‘Great lesson!’ We all chat as we shower and change and say things like - ‘wow, I so needed that,’ and ‘I just couldn’t get through the week if I didn’t have Genna on a Monday.’ They sound as if they mean it, so I say the same things too.

I mean it must be good for you, surely?

A couple of us go for a coffee after, a skinny latte, with skinny vanilla, and wow, they so needed that too!

I usually love my Mondays.

I just don’t today.

I haven’t of late, in fact.

‘Hey, baby,’ I hear when I answer my phone and it’s him. ‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m just on my way to the specialist.’ I think about discussing the pony again with him, but decide it’s better left till tonight and anyway, he tells me, he’s got to go into a meeting. I head off to the village and there’s a bit of a wait so I get a pedicure and my eyebrows threaded and finally I get my spray tan done. Afterwards, I put on a very loose cheesecloth dress and some sandals.

I look at my watch and Rhonda should be long gone. I concentrate extra hard on the drive home. I’ve got no knickers or bra on, so as not to mess up my spray tan, so I especially don’t want to have an accident.

And I don’t want to have Botox.

I wasn’t completely lying to him.

I do have a specialist appointment today.

Only it’s not with a doctor, it’s with a nurse. I’ve messed up my appointments, so I’ll have to get changed and I don’t want to mess up my tan. I just can’t face it today. I really do have a pounding headache.

Maybe I’ll just go to bed and read.

I slow down to let an ambulance pass and then a police car too. I’m going to cancel my appointment I decide, or just not show up. I’ll have to pay fifty quid whatever I do, because I haven’t given enough notice. It will be like bunking off – I used to do that a lot. But instead of hanging around the shops and the park like I did then, at least now I can go home. I smile at the thought, because all I want to do is go to bed and read.

It might sound as if I do nothing all day, but being his wife is a full-time job and I really want to just sign off for the afternoon.

I can’t stand the thought of needles in my face today.

As I turn into my street I slam on the brakes, not to avoid hitting someone, but because of what I see.

That ambulance and police car that I slowed to let past are outside my house. Their lights are blazing and there is my neighbour, with a prime view over the privet fence.

Why didn’t he have a word?

Why didn’t he insist that she grow it years ago?

I don’t want her watching my life.

I do remember thinking that surely the normal response would be to drive faster, to accelerate, to get there and find out what's going on, except I slammed the brakes on. I can see his car on my carriage driveway and instead of racing to get there, I actually want to turn the car around and drive away.

I swear, had I not met the eyes of my neighbour, I might just have done that.

I wish I'd gone for Botox, or out for lunch, or taken that spin class, but instead, I coax the car forward and park behind the ambulance and me and my pounding headache climb out, to be met by my neighbour.

‘Lucy!’ My neighbour is breathless with excitement. ‘Is there anything I can do?’

I shrug her off; I know she wants to come in, that she wants to find out for herself exactly what is going on.

All I know is that I don’t want her to.

There is a policeman at the door and he asks who I am. I tell him it's my house, I don't need his questions right now and no, I’m not showing him my ID. Another ambulance is pulling up and I have to stand back on the stairs as they race past me. I hear the police officer shout that the wife is here.

My headache is really pounding and I’m sweating as I run up the stairs. As I turn on the landing I can see his bare legs on the bedroom floor and I know what I’m going to find.

I don’t want to know but I know.

There’s shit everywhere if you look.

Mum said it all the time.

Or slurred it.

I can hear male voices; someone is counting as I walk in. I watch them pounding on his chest, there are bruises all over it. The paramedics that have just arrived are pulling up drugs and I’m pretty much ignored as I walk in the room, except by one.

‘You all right love?’

I think I nod.

He’s a big guy, and he’s very practical and kind and he lets me take in the scene for a second or two before the questions start.