After he’d gone, all that was left in the bedsit was:
A half emptied bookcase.
The stain of brown whisky at the bottom of the glass.
Rumpled sheets on his side of the bed.
After he’d gone, she lay on the sofa, coiled cobra-like, listening for the step of his feet returning up the stairwell. The click of his key turning in the lock. But the only sounds were the shuffle of Marjorie-next door making her way to the bathroom; the thunderous descent of Dec from upstairs and his friends heading out to the pub.
After he’d gone, each second that passed expanded longer than the last. The glowing red numbers on the digital clock moved the evening forward in freeze frame. The sodium-glare outside her window shone on a world of revellers, singing and dancing through the night.
After he’d gone, all that was left in the morning was a rumpled emptiness. The stain of betrayal of their life that never was. All that remained was a half-life. But since that was all she was left with, she uncoiled herself from the couch, and took herself to the shower.
A life half-lived is better than none.
It cain’t be my fault. I weren’t even there. You cain’t blame me. So I made a few off-tha-wall comments. I painted a picture to make ma point. Every right-minded individual knows I weren’t serious. T’aint nothing to do with me.
Don’t look at me. I’m a teacher,not a social worker. I’m just glad if they make it into school. I can’t be held responsible for what they do outside. That’s their parents’ job isn’t it?
How is this my fault? With my slender majority, I can’t afford to ignore public opinion. I’m too junior to have a voice. If I speak out on controversial subjects too soon, that’s my career down the pan. Besides, it’s impossible to legislate for this sort of thing isn’t it?
Whatcha looking at me for? All I did was serve him. I’ve got a business to run. Gotta feed my family haven’t I? I only give the public what they want. What they do with the merchandise after is up to them. So don’t you come round here and point that finger at me.
Don’t you go saying it’s my fault. I gave that boy everything he ever wanted. Love and kindness, all the toys he ever needed, a gun to celebrate reaching manhood. Sure he’s spend the last few years in his bedroom in front of the computer. But doesn’t every kid? What can you do about it?
Why does everyone always look at me like that? Like I’m a fracking alien? Mum and those bastards at school were always on my case. The politicos pretended to help, but they lied. The Radio Lady was right, Cylons are real. I had to stop them. So I went to the only man I could trust, got what I needed, and hunted them all down. You’re too blind to see the truth is’all.
It’s not my fault. You can’t blame me.
Another of my writing course friends has just achieved success by winning a first novel competition run by Hookline books.
The Partridge and the Pelican by Rachel Crowther, will be published in April. More details then. But in the meantime, congratulations Rachel!