I can't put into words the way I feel right now. I can hear every beat of my heart as I try not to breathe through my mouth. But as it seems today the grace of god is on my side, the policemen begin to leave. I watch carefully as they get into the car. They wait a few minutes longer then drive away. A sigh of pure relief bursts from my body.
That night I toss and turn in my bed, never quite reaching a point of comfort, my mind racing. If I sleep, that means another day, another chance of getting caught. If I don’t sleep I’ll be awake, over-thinking, running the situation in my mind over and over, and in the morning I’ll be lazy, drowsy, unobservant. More risk of getting caught. I continue to think about this over the next maybe two or three hours, until my body finally gives in to sleep. Not to say I sleep peacefully. Interrupted sleep is the worst kind, waking up with my heart in my mouth, cold sweats, fear taking control of my real life, and unconscious self.
The sun beams through my curtains. Even with them shut the burning light still finds a way of creeping into my room. I lie for a while; I try to think about other things, good things. Nature maybe, the birds that would now be singing, and far away in forests the animals would be awakening, the seas warm as the sun embraces them. This thought gives me comfort; it always seems that when I think about nature, my own situation, my fear, my worries, seem less important. Possibly I realise how insignificant I am in this big world.
I fall back to sleep, until around midday. A late sleep, for a man such as myself. I wash and dress; downstairs seems almost silent without you. A terribly uncomfortable silence, one which scares you almost. I prepare some coffee, enough for two. I sit at the dining table, taking in the surroundings that seem so different from just a few days ago, almost dead, as if the colour from the room drained out like the blood did from your face.
There’s a knock on the door, which stops my thought. I make my way to the window hastily, peering around the curtain to catch a glimpse. Janet stood there, mop and bucket, gloves already on, ready for her day’s work. What day is it? Tuesday? Cleaning day. It seems wrong of me to stop Janet from doing her job. Who am I to stop her from making her money? You wouldn’t have liked that.
I open the door; she enters with a cheery hello. She asks how I am, and how terrible the news was when she found out. A series of general grievance questions follow. My responses are minimal, the last thing I want to do is to speak to Janet, especially about you. The woman, although nice, is the sort of annoying nice. The nice where you want them to have a bad day for once, so they could stop being so concerned about your feelings. Sensing I don’t really want to talk, she makes her way into the kitchen and starts preparing the table for a clean. I don’t bother to follow her; I simply make my way upstairs and take my coat from the hanger. I don’t know if I actually want to leave or if it is just so I don’t have to make pointless small talk. I say a short good-bye to Janet; the warm air surrounds me as soon as I close my door.
I instantly regret taking my coat. I keep my head down, trying to avoid the neighbours who stare at me through their double glazed windows. A man grieving is the greatest circus act. I take a short cut, I don’t know if I actually know where I’m going, but my feet know the route all too well. I’m walking to you; maybe I just want to be around you, feel you near. I come out onto a large expanse of land that seems to go for miles covered in field, spring daisies everywhere. I walk straight through. When you do something wrong, whether or not you are being followed or not, you still think you are. Every few minutes I take a look behind me. Not that it matters; they won’t find you here. I pass the large oak tree down the short hill, and on to the bottom. To our stop by the river bed, our seat, our log.
I take a seat and gaze across the river, trying to ignore the fact that you’re lying only a few feet beneath me, the mud bumpy where I covered you. I sit for a minute or so in complete silence. Knowing you are just below me scares me. It sounds silly but I almost think you have the ability to rise up from the ground beneath. That fear makes me stomp my foot on the ground, and then from nowhere I begin to speak to you. I want to explain to you, that you pushed me. You really did. Anyone in my position would have done the same. I saved you from yourself. Your psychotic outbursts were becoming too much. Imagine if we’d had children, as you’d wanted, we couldn’t have brought them up in that surrounding. You couldn’t kick them out into the back garden for hours in the brisk winter. You couldn’t cry to them all night. You couldn’t throw things at them. You just couldn’t do that. I told you to go to a doctor; I even looked it up online. I never found a profile that best suited you. It’s hard to pretend that when you hit the ground, I didn’t feel a slight relief. As the blood trickled down the slope of bank and into the river, it was like I’d put you to peace. Sent you somewhere better. I may have loved you too much, or not enough at all. If they knew the whole of it, maybe they’d understand. But I doubt it. I wish I could stay here forever, instead of having to retreat back to that house, back to reality. The only sound surrounding me now, just the sound of the river water rushing through the stones beneath.
On the walk home, I feel more at ease, more relaxed. The grass seems that bit greener, the sky that bit bluer; I know this isn’t the way a murderer should feel. A man with your blood on his hands. Back to reality as I hit the grey pavement, again it seems better to stay hidden, keep my head down, avoid faces. When you’re widowed people expect you to be a mess, to be unresponsive, to be dismissive. I had no answers to their questions anyway: “How do you feel?” “Do you need anything?” “We’re sorry about your loss”…It’s surprising how much sympathy people have towards a neighbour they’ve only bothered to say hello to once or maybe twice.
Me and you, we weren’t to their taste. We weren’t really to anyone’s taste. A psychopath wife and the weird husband. Not the best company. My mother always said you were lethal, that’s probably the reason I was so interested in you. Electric Lizzie, she used to call you. A name fitting for a girl like you, she said. Eyes like a tiger, and I was your prey. My mind trails to a halt. Frozen.
The police car has returned. I throw myself against the wall; I wish I could blend into the grey panels behind me. My heart’s beating a million to one. This would entertain you, I can imagine. You liked to see me scared. Just like when you lied and told me you’d taken the full bottle of tramadol. You cried laughing as I rushed around, eyes wide with terror, trying to make you throw them back up. I’m thinking through what would be the best process, whether to approach the house calmly.
What is the time? 6:00pm? Janet must have let them in. I can’t just wait here. I gather my thoughts, and start to make my way to the house. Every step feels like one step closer to prison. But I’m almost there, I can’t run back. Maybe it’s time. Time to hold my hands up.
Your words echo in my head, your screams. That night it seems to flood back, all the anger I felt, all the pain you’d caused me over so many years. The moment when the light in your big blue eyes faded, the despair in those eyes, is an image I’ll never be able to rid myself of.
As I open the front door I instantly regret it. Chaos is the only way it can be described. Every drawer, open. The contents spilling over the floor. The contents of our life all over the floor. The policeman I’d seen earlier charges at me, gripping my arm, handcuffing me without a pause, as if there was anywhere to run now.
The rest is a blur. Desolation blinding me. And then through all the madness, it hit me. Finally. The realisation that this was the first time since that night, I wish you were here.