Rachel crouched under the sepia coloured umbrella that
It was the concept of the empty hours waiting for
Closing the gate behind her, she noticed a strip of light beneath the closed curtains and stepped across the blue brick yard to rap on the door. Getting no response, not even to her second knock, she concluded the light had been left on by mistake. She went away, not sure if she was pleased or sad to be going home.
THE MYSTERY HOUSE looked even more neglected in the rain. Water gushed from a broken section of guttering hanging at an angle from the edge of the roof; it descended like
She kept going until safely on her own front path where she could breathe normally and chuckle at her childish lunacy. Pushing a shoot of winter jasmine out of the way she ducked into the porch, propped the gamp against the meter box, and felt in her pocket for the key. There was a squeal of brakes as a car turned into the road. It was
Inevitably, her heart leaped at the sight of his grinning face as he drew near. She waited, watching him secure the windows of his beloved Volkswagen before climbing out and locking the door. He ran lithely up the path, showing no sign of tiredness after his long journey.
Inside, Rachel peeled off her raincoat and hung it in the kitchen to dry, while
‘How was Terry?’
‘He rang this morning.’
Rachel gave him the gist of Terry's call, emphasising the fact that he might be gone for a while. ‘I'm surprised he didn't tell you,’ she added, feeling an odd sense of justice as she waited for his reply.
‘He didn't stay up north. He came home early on account of his job.’
So, it was all above board and Rachel had no reason to fret. Nevertheless, she felt deflated, deprived of the row she had worked towards all day. Feeling distinctly ruffled, she began the preparations for tea.
SHE STOOD AT THE BEDSIDE, her body concealed by a large white towel, her head swathed in another. She was contemplating the mark on
And now she knew what it was.
Professing to be too tired to watch television
Eric was right, then, and Rachel now had proof though what she would do with it was another matter. Peeling off the towels, she dressed in the warm pyjamas and left the room, unable to think straight yet experiencing a tingle of relief.
Rex struggled to his feet as she passed his bed and followed her down the stairs. ‘I wish you wouldn't follow me everywhere,’ she groused, as she sat on the living room couch. Rex wagged his tail and happily brushed against her legs, then raised his head to lick her face. That did it. His consummate affection made her cry, forcing her finally to give way to her sorrow. While her body heaved with great racking sobs, she pleaded with God to help her through the mess that was her marriage. Folding her arms around the dog, she rocked to and fro, moaning in her misery, until there were no more tears to shed and her brain once more began to function.
Nothing had changed.
The thought crept in even as she queried what course to take. Nothing had changed, except that
Much later, fatigued by surging, unanswered questions, she went upstairs and climbed wearily into bed, pulling her share of the duvet to her side. As she drifted into sleep, she promised herself she would tell