With gritty eyes and a lugubrious expression, she pulls on her jeans, three red leather bangles and a shirt that can be unbuttoned modestly.
There’s a slightly sour smell in the air. The washing spills out of the laundry basket. She pulls back the covers on the bed, noticing the fluff gathering in the corners of the room like tumbleweed in an old Western movie. As she draws back the blind, dust motes rise like ghosts in the strong morning light.
Three-and-a-half hours, at least. She knows she shouldn’t count, but adding up the hours that she has slept helps her feel like she has some control over the night that has just passed.
From the other end of the house the spoon is reaching its crescendo as he stirs his coffee. Her jaw aches slightly from her clenched teeth.She gathers the plastic bag, full of wipes, poo-ey nappies and an empty tin of ointment, from the change table. Glancing into the mirror on her way out, she sees her hair in fuzzy disarray. She damps it down with her free hand.
“See you later – have a good one.”
A last slurp of coffee, a crunch of toast, a trail of crumbs on the bench, one perfunctory kiss, then he is gone.
She watches his broad back recede down the quiet street, the sun just climbing. Her engorged breasts begin to leak through her shirt as she stands in the front yard. The garden has the classic renters look about it: slightly desolate, in need of a mow, and all the charm of a cup of tea gone cold.
Back inside, she positions the cushions, brings the infant to her, her right hand supporting its head, the left cradling its body. She feels slightly fuzzy ,light headed and relieved as the milk drains out of her. The baby belches, leaving a thin stream of soured milk on her sleeve.
Stay calm and relax.
Some people say chocolate is not food, it’s just chocolate.
No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
She arranges the fridge magnets one more time. It seems like she is always there in the house, just being there, being there with the baby. The occasional trip out, so she can be around other people,it fills the time.