'Alone Again' by Susan Condon

I turn my head skyward at the screech of a lone black bird. A crow, if I’m not mistaken, although from this distance it’s hard to tell. The summer evening holds a winter chill. The sky is dark and overcast, like my thoughts. I watch as wings flap and the bird circles round and round in the bleak sky emitting a baleful cry.

I tear my eyes away, resisting the urge to cover my ears.

I remove the gloves, overalls and shoe covers. Naked, as the day I was born, I stuff them into a black refuse sack and push it deep inside the empty plant pot buried at the back of the shed. Replacing the padlock, I take a final look down the garden, before entering the house and taking the first step into my new life without her . . .

Standing under the shower I relish the ice-cold water as the powerful jets lash my body, reminding me of my father’s belt as a boy. I scrub until my skin is red raw, the carbolic soap burning my nostrils and stinging my eyes while all I can hear is the drumming in my ears. Just like before.

When I can stand it no longer I towel dry and dress: a fresh white shirt and grey tie; black trousers with a sharp crease and freshly polished, laced, black shoes. Finally, I don my favourite blazer with the gleaming gold buttons. She always liked it and somehow it seems fitting to wear it tonight. Respectful, somehow.

Time has passed quickly. The sky is black. No stars in the sky tonight. Yet the full moon shines brightly. I wait until it clouds over before placing the suitcase gently into the boot of my Mercedes. I coax the dog into the back seat where she whines incessantly. I drive to the other side of the city and park beneath a broken streetlight.

New territory; the dog is excited. I wheel the suitcase halfway across the bridge, lever it up onto the barrier and drop it over. For a moment I freeze, thinking that it’s going to float, but it topples over and the black water consumes it. The walk is over. We return home and I head out to the shed. I need to be sure it wasn’t all a dream. I pull open the chest freezer and her blue lifeless eyes stare up at me, ice crystals already forming over the gaping wound on the side of her head.

I run my finger over the crease in my trousers. Maybe I can wait a week or two before replacing the iron; no point in raising suspicion.

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