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International Writers Magazine: Betrayal
I threw the car keys on the table. We need to get out of here.
Clear and simple no time for misunderstandings.
Dan looked up, his cornflower blue eyes seeming to take an age to
focus. He blinked, glanced down, shifted. What?
We need to get out of here, I flopped into the armchair
opposite by way of punctuation. Get in the car, get out of
the city, away from people. We can go to my Dads farm. Theres
hardly anyone out there.
He frowned. OK,
so it wasnt an amazing plan, but at least I had one, something
to do rather than hiding in our flat with its rapidly dwindling supply
of baked beans, waiting for the revolution to catch up with us, for
the gangs to attack and rape, pillage and kill or whatever was de rigueur
for marauders this week.
Dan, you could at least try to respond.
His right hand dipped into his pocket and he pulled out his phone. His
eyes flicked toward the screen. Hed been doing that a lot lately;
I supposed it was a nervous habit hed developed since it all started,
a tick that harked back to some normality where people called or sent
messages to each other through the ether. Now the airwaves were silent.
I thought the networks were down. It might have been a nervous
tick, but it was bloody irritating.
He slid the phone away, Some messages are still getting through.
I was hoping to hear from
I leant over our narrow coffee table and touched his knee. Babe,
dont worry, Im sure shes fine theyve
got their vegetable patch and theyre out in the sticks. They wont
have these gangs. I grinned, Im sure the sheep arent
uprising, too, eh?
True. Small smile, his hand over mine.
So, lets go. Well pack our stuff in the car, drive
out of the city, get off the island, get somewhere safe. I squeezed
his knee. Theyll have food out there and a well, so well
have water, too.
He sat back, pulling away. I dont think thats a good
idea. He touched his mouth absently.
I clenched my jaw. Why do you want to stay? Its only a matter
of time before were fucked. I stood up, looking down at
him. I know you had these high hopes of a revolution being a good
thing, Dan, but thats not how it worked out either well
run out of food or well get killed by those nutters.
His response was a study in apathy. I sighed and stomped to our room.
If I packed, then hed wake up from his stupor and would have to
come with me. Hes my husband, I thought, grabbing my suitcase
and chucking warm clothes inside, he cant just let me go on my
Holiday programmes, when they still showed them, didnt cover what
to pack in the event of revolution, so I improvised. There was the usual
stuff, as well as our first aid kit, a torch from the bedside table
(where it had lived since the blackouts started), and our camping bits
from the coat cupboard.
I dragged out Dans and opened it. In the bottom, a blue condom
wrapper looked up at me, its metallic sheen winking in the light. We
hadnt used condoms since we got married.
Durex Extra Safe.
My mind whirred Dan had last used the case when he went to Birmingham
on a business trip a few weeks before the rioting and violence started.
I shook my head. It didnt mean anything: it could have been there
since we went on holiday before the wedding. It could easily have been
stuck in the bottom of his case since then. Easily.
I threw it in the bin and continued. Open drawer, grab jumpers, into
case; repeat with jeans, pants, socks. In the bottom, hidden at the
back beneath all the underwear, sat a red envelope.
Danny it said in rounded letters like the handwriting I used when I
was 13. I touched the thick paper and turned it over it had been
opened carefully. I couldnt not look inside. White, lined paper.
My hand shook as I slid it out, unfolded it.
The same teenage-style writing was scrawled across the pages; there
were even circles above the i's. Skim reading it was plenty I
got more than enough of the picture. I sank into realisation, drowning
in thoughts of Dan meeting this other woman who signed her name S, checking
into some hotel and taking her upstairs, holding her hand in the lift,
her whispering something stupid and sexy in his ear, him turning around
to kiss her neck and leading her to the room, throwing the door open
before throwing her onto the massive bed stop, stop, stop!
Dan looked up as I charged into the living room. Babe, I think
first he looked at my face, must have seen the anger etched
there, then stared down at the red envelope in my hands. He sucked in
a sharp breath. I kept quiet let him hang himself. His features
kind of crumpled in, like his skull was falling in on itself ever so
slowly. Oh, Hannah, Im so sorry.
Oh, youre sorry! Well, thats OK, then. I laughed
and realised it sounded crazy, but carried on anyway. For fucks
sake, Dan, weve only been married eight months. I chucked
the letter and condom wrapper at him. How can you have grown bored
of being married to me, of my voice started to crack. How
can you already have someone else?
He opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again. He did it
several times. I could have giggled at him being the speechless one,
at his impression of a goldfish whose bowl had been smashed. His hand
went to his pocket.
Oh my God! Laughter laced my words. Thats who
youve been waiting to hear from! I ran my hand through my
hair. Some bit on the side is why you want to stay here and get
us both killed?
I snatched the car keys from the table. Any other time, Dan, and
I would go through all the clichéd questions with you
who is she, whyd you do it, when did it start but I really
dont have time. Im getting off this island. Im going
to survive this shit. I looked at him. He seemed very small, but
I didnt feel any pity. You can stay here with your revolution
and your whore. Enjoy!
When I got outside, the stench of smoke and uncollected dustbins hit
me together with a blast of heat. Instead of my blue Ford Focus, my
escape, I was greeted by a pillar of flames licking the sky.
Her face was pale but calm as she strode back into the living room.
He hadnt moved, but now looked up, trying to catch her eye. As
she plopped into a chair she didnt return his gaze, leaving him
wondering had she changed her mind, couldnt face leaving
Finally, she turned to him. Well, who is she?
Her face was blank, her grey eyes unwavering.
© Clare Sager MA
Clare is now teaching writing
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