Royalty – section 7 – Imelda


My mobile rang at 4 am , there’s only one person who ever calls me then. I’m awake immediately, grabbing for the phone. I can hear him breathing, close, like he’s next to me. I feel cold, try to wrap the duvet round me with my free hand

“come” he says

So, i do

Grab some stuff, bundle the sleeping kids into the car. I try to be quiet, but the front  door sticks, wont shut, I have to slam it – bang – such a loud, sudden noise.

I’m suddenly aware of eyes on me, someone watching. I don’t turn round, but I sneak a look in the mirror.  It’s the girl from yesterday, the one with possibilities, the one who isn’t what she seems. She’s standing at her window, still, just staring.

I put the car in gear and drive away , I don’t look back.

I’m driving too fast, but I can’t help it – I watch the sun come up and listen to the kids murmur in their sleep, the baby sighing on her every out breath.

We stand in the hallway, staring at each other, the baby is grizzling, hungry, unsettled. Troy knows where we are, shrinks against the wall, tries to make himself as small as possible, invisible.

The house is the same, rooms too large for their furniture, windows uncurtained, mirrors in every room and that photograph, huge, almost filling one white wall.

I look into a mirror and see his reflection staring at me, 4 images of perfection, a closed circle of desire. There is a pause and then we are touching, kissing, caressing.  I don’t need to look to know that he is staring not at me, but at the reflection in the mirror. i don’t need to look because that’s what I’m doing too.

Days pass, the kids get fed,mostly, Troy finds some  of his old toys and rediscovers his old game, the obsessive lining up of tiny tin cars, felt tips, plastic animals. They stretch across the white floor boards, sometimes one or both of us kick the lines apart as we walk past, sometimes we help him line them up.

 

“come back to me” he says and I am tempted, this house so cold, so empty, so many reflective surfaces

one night, we light candles, 20,30,40 candles, the room is ablaze. the baby sleeps on a bundle of blankets, Troy has curled up on the furthest sofa.It is very quiet.

He  strokes my face, my lips, my cheeks, my eye lids – I know what will come next.

in the morning, we stand together and look into the largest mirror. We both look carefully at my reflection.

I pack the children into the car – it is time to go.

 

 

 

 

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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