Friends

04 December 2012

A SUMMER CHILL, CHAPTER 16

Next door's dispute was waning at last. It had been more vociferous than the majority of their squabbles, progressing from drawn-out moans to resounding screeches. Most nights the wrangling lasted no longer than about ninety minutes, which Audrey could tolerate while she read, but the current one had infiltrated her own space and she was heartily fed up with it. She covered her face and ears with pillows, thinking that if Gerald did the same to Liz then maybe everyone would have some peace.
           
Lying recumbent in the dark, not knowing what time it was or what day, she closed her eyes and waited for the church clock to strike. The external world was silent. No nocturnal creature sounds, no breeze crackling through the trees. She tried visualising beautiful scenes,but nothing came except a vague awareness that something odd was about to happen, a nervousness that made her fingers tingle. The presentiment was intense, the sensation similar to when Brian made clandestine visits, when he dropped by for midnight trysts without formal arrangement. She knew then, by the thrills in her churning stomach, that an adventure was imminent. But there was no motive for agitation at this unearthly juncture; no appointments to keep, no problems to tackle, no pastimes to pursue. She turned onto her side and pulled her knees to her chest, wondering if she would sleep now that the row had abated. She relaxed her body and lowered her eyelids … but the persistent nagging hampered her efforts to nod off. Eventually, sick of prolonged wakefulness, she reached for her dressing gown.
           
She parted the curtain and peered out. The approaching dawn had transformed the black sky to a pastiche of greys and the merest suggestion of blue. Expectancy hovered on the horizon. Pushing the window wide, she sniffed the exquisitely warm air, teeming with garden fragrances. A small animal scampered across the lawn and was immediately lost in the shadow of the laburnum. She glanced sideways at Matthew's window and made a mental note to open it before he showed up.
           
Matthew!
           
Abruptly, she ducked in, the reason for her restlessness finally surfacing. Matthew was due home today. Feeling heady and singularly uplifted, she narrowed the gap between window and sill. Matthew's homecoming reduced the urgency of her ambition to do battle with the Tomlins, nothing mattered but the meeting with her son, yet the sound of Gerald slamming his front door fired her with bristling anger.  As she observed him banging down the path, she decided definitely to complain.

She took extra care with her toilette. She ran a cool bath so that steam would not blotch her skin, and washed her hair with a conditioning shampoo which left it silky to the touch. She dried and brushed it. She spent ten minutes stroking it with an old pair of tights, a procedure she employed to enhance the shine. Her efforts were rewarded when a shaft of sunlight penetrated the bathroom nets and highlighted the waves with copper streaks. Smiling, she twisted the locks into a frivolous coil and encouraged flyaway wisps to float aimlessly around her ears. After liberally spraying herself with lavender water, she slipped on a blue cotton frock, sleeveless and button-through and an excellent example of crisp respectability. Satisfied that Matthew would approve, she sprinted jauntily down the stairs.

*******

Half way through the morning Audrey berated herself for not ringing the airport and ascertaining the time of the flight. Matthew had given her a tentative schedule, quoting the estimated arrival time, but his plans had changed at the last moment and he was catching a later flight. The instant she had known the date of his vacation she arranged to take a week off work, but what a waste this first day was proving to be, hanging around waiting, afraid to go out in case he rang.
           
At one point, noticing Liz Tomlin leave her house, she was tempted to go and thrash out the incidence of nightly disturbances, but she resisted. It would be too awful if the telephone rang when she was out. Furthermore, seeing that Liz had been crying, she was less inclined to intrude. 'Later,' she muttered. 'When Gerald comes back.'

The hours dragged on and she grew increasingly agitated, worrying that it was the wrong day, or he had missed the connection to Redhampton, or something untoward was preventing him coming at all.

Despite the fact that her stomach was bloated through an excessive intake of fluid, she poured the last of the coffee and put the filter jug to soak. One sip of the stewed liquid brought a moue of disgust and she swiftly chucked it in the sink. The coffee aimed for the plughole, leaving in its wake a trail of bitter, brown dregs. Audrey promptly uncapped a bottle of bleach and squirted it over the developing stain.
           
Ten minutes later, forcing herself to sacrifice her vigil for a spot of television, she went into the lounge and idly pressed the buttons of the remote control. There was a quiz on one of the channels which she believed might take her mind off the long wait. She perched on the edge of the armchair to have a go. Which mountain had an altitude of one thousand eighty-six metres. The answer was to be precise, said the quizmaster, who also wanted the name of the national park. She racked her brains. Was it Snowdon? Under normal circumstances she would have referred to reference books, but not today.
           
Finding the subsequent questions equally difficult her attention began to stray. She switched to another channel where a feature promoting the various blessings of owning a telephone diverted her thoughts to her own quandary. She started to brood. For the first time she asked herself how she would handle the calls with Matthew at home and who she could say He was? And how would she hide her tension as eight o'clock drew near? In the end she settled on ensuring that Matthew never got the chance to answer. 'Oh dear,' she moaned, foreseeing a daunting task, knowing that if she'd swapped the number or gone ex-directory she wouldn't be in this predicament; neither would she have been aroused by what He said, nor enjoyed her private engagement in sinful behaviour.
           
The original conviction that using the answering machine would stop the calls was laughable. If anything, it had stimulated him, spurred him to be more suggestive, challenged him to scorn detection. What's more, she also responded to the smutty messages and, without replaying the tapes, how else would she relive the fantasies. Only afterwards, when a climax was achieved, when she felt nauseated, ugly and demoralised, did she vow to get rid of the contraption. The intention was always short-lived … titillation outweighing degradation.
           
Remembering those indelicate propositions during the latest call, erotic tremors began coursing through her lower regions. Two minutes, she thought as, calculatingly and unhurriedly, she loosened the top of her dress and lay back.

(to be continued)

8 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow. it will be very interesting where you go from here with her...she has become so attached to her midnight caller...and what once brought anger or fear has transferred completely to something much different...

Valerie said...

Brian, pretty soon an explosion occurs and there is a scene change, and tail down time.

Ron said...

Valerie, you have me in suspense as to HOW Audrey is going to handle these calls once her son arrives!?!

"Brian, pretty soon an explosion occurs and there is a scene change, and tail down time."

Ooooo....can't wait to read what that's all about!

Excellent chapter, dear lady. Eagerly anticipating the next!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

X

Valerie said...

All will be revealed, Ron, all in good time. Patience, dear boy, patience *grins*

HermanTurnip said...

Very nice...now, if only they had cell phones to keep each other updated about arrival times! :-)

Smoothly written. This particular section read beautifully. Absolute brain candy. Thank you!

Valerie said...

Wrong era for cell phones, Herman, but I agree they would have made things easier (for everyone). Thank you for your very nice comment.

DeniseinVA said...

I can't wait for the next chapter!!!

Lea said...

She even does flashbacks of the erotic calls... Can't wait how she handles the situation with Matthew at home.