Buzz of my alarm. It must be time to wake up. It’s the alarm that sounds like a phone ringing so it must be a weekday. The shower water’s going cold. I must only have half an hour left to leave the house. My neighbour slams his front door. I’ve only got about seven minutes to brush my hair.
There’s a queue of cars forming in front of me. That means I’m getting to work ten minutes later. I won’t be late. I’m never late. I just won’t get there as early as usual.
Quick glance at the clock on my screen. Quick glance again. It’s been three hours already. Time’s flying. That means work’s going well.
The smell of tuna sandwiches. The crunch of Glenda biting a rice cracker topped with houmous. A distant rumble in my stomach. It must be lunchtime.
The clank of keys dropped onto the table by the door. I’m home. Car tyres on gravel. My neighbour’s home. Steam boiling on my face. My pasta’s done. The chink of knife scraping plate. I’m full.
Door banging. Wait, what? Door banging? Is that my door? But it’s half 9 at night. This is when I hear the slosh of pouring wine. The dry taste on my tongue. A sleepy feeling. Not banging. Why banging?
‘Help! Please help me!’ Bang. Bang. Bang. It’s loud and urgent and it’s definitely coming from my door.
The snap of the chain. The click of the lock and before I know it a woman pushes into my house.
‘Oh thank you, thank you!’
Trails of mud all over the floor.
‘I was walking home. And this man, h-he came out of nowhere. And- and-he attacked me. He stole my bag. He- on my god I’m bleeding.’
Blood trailing down a knee. Trailing from the hallway all the way into the kitchen.
‘I just need to wash this off, thank you so much.’
Gush of water. Blood smears on the tap. Blood and mud on the granite table top.
‘I pushed him off me, b-before he could do anything, and I ran and h-he followed, shit I’m so scared.’
The scraping of curtains. ‘I can’t see him, thank you so much for letting me in. I didn’t know what else to do. I kept running and thinking I’m surrounded by houses, he can’t do anything here. But then I realised there weren’t that many houses left to run past. Thank you so much.’
There’s a cloth in the cupboard with some anti-bacterial surface cleaner. Lime scented. I wet the cloth with warm water. And wipe.
‘Do you mind if I use your phone? I can ask my husband to pick me up. I’m too scared to leave on my own. What if that man’s still out there?’
Telephonic beeps of numbers dialled. I must have some carpet cleaner somewhere. And a scrubbing brush.
After she leaves I bolt and chain the door again. Sit down with my glass of wine. Gag at the overwhelming smell of lime. And wonder where it all went wrong. In a distance I hear a clock tick.
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