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Behind Her Eyes: Part 2: Chapter 35


It takes several rings before I even realise it’s the doorbell. At first, in my blissful haze, I think some exotic bird has got into the house, and then I wonder if I’m even in the house at all, and then I hear it again. The doorbell. Definitely the doorbell. It irritates me, and my head feels heavy as I sit up straight on the sofa.

‘Adele?’ The disembodied voice drifts into the room, and I frown. Is that really her? I’ve been thinking about her so much I don’t know if I’m really hearing her or if she’s in my head. It’s so hard to focus, and she feels so constantly entwined with me that right now, in this state, I don’t know where I end and she begins.

‘Adele, it’s me. Louise! Please let me in. I’ll only stay a moment. I just want to know you’re okay.’

Louise. It is her. My saviour. I smile, although it feels like I’m gurning and I probably am. There’s some drool on my chin and I clumsily wipe it away before hauling myself to my unsteady feet. I knew she’d be back, but I wasn’t expecting her so soon.

I take a deep breath to try to clear my head a little while I decide whether to answer the door. It may be a risk, but still I hide the things I need to in the little teak ornate box on the side table. I don’t know where I bought it from or why, but at least it finally has a use.

She calls my name once more, and I catch my reflection in the mirror. I look like a mess. I’m sweaty pale, and my pupils are so dilated that my eyes are almost black. My lips twitch. I don’t recognise myself. That makes me giggle, a sudden sound that almost spooks me. To let her in, or not to let her in, that is the question. But then, in the part of my brain that’s functioning properly, I realise how I can work this to my advantage. I was going to have to fake this behaviour at some point, but now I don’t. My plan marches on. But then my plans always do.

I shamble towards the front door and open it, flinching in the bright sunlight. An hour ago I wouldn’t have been able to move, but now that I’m concentrating, my limbs are doing what I tell them. I’m feeling quite proud of myself, but Louise looks shocked. It takes a second before I realise I’m the one who’s swaying slightly, not her, or the pavement outside.

‘Shit, Adele,’ she says, quickly coming inside and gently taking my arm. ‘You’re in a right state.’ She leads me towards the kitchen. ‘Are you drunk? Let’s get some coffee on. I’ve been so worried about you.’

‘I’m so sorry about my phone,’ I slur. ‘So sorry.’ She lowers me into a chair. It’s a relief to be sitting down. One less thing to concentrate on.

‘You have nothing to be sorry about,’ she says, as she fills the kettle and searches for mugs and instant coffee. I’m glad there’s a small ‘in case of emergencies’ jar in the cupboard. I may be semi-focused now, but I don’t have the energy to explain the coffee machine.

‘You’re allowed to have friends, Adele. Everyone’s allowed to have friends.’ Her eyes scan the room for evidence of booze, but see nothing. ‘What’s the matter with you? Are you sick? Has he done something?’

I shake my head slowly, keeping the world in place. ‘The pills. I maybe took more than I should.’

She goes to the cupboard and as she opens it I know she’s calculating whether it would be possible to give yourself a black eye when doing so.

‘Really, don’t worry, it’s fine, they’re prescription,’ I mutter. She doesn’t stop though, of course not. She ignores the little defensive line of ibuprofen and antacid tablets, and reaches to the packets beyond, spreading them out on the counter. The kettle clicks off, but she doesn’t move. She’s studying the labels. All neatly printed with my name and dosage instructions, as prescribed by my husband.

‘Fuck,’ she says, eventually. ‘David prescribed these for you?’

I nod. ‘For my nerves.’

‘These aren’t for your nerves, Adele. These are strong anti-psychotics. I mean, really strong. All of them to one degree or another.’

‘No, you must be wrong, they’re for my nerves,’ I repeat.

She doesn’t say anything to that, but continues to stare at the packets, many with strips of half-empty blisters hanging out where I’ve flushed the pills down the sink. She rummages inside one box.

‘No information sheet. Does David bring these prescriptions home for you, or do you collect them yourself?’

‘He brings them,’ I say quietly. ‘Can I have some coffee please? I feel so tired.’ Actually, I’m surprised at how quickly I’m straightening out, given that this is only my second time practising this.

She finally makes the coffee and comes to sit opposite me. There’s nothing ditzy about chubby little Louise any more. In fact, there’s nothing chubby about Louise any more. These past couple of days of heartache have knocked the last difficult pounds off.

‘How long has he been making you take these?’ she asks.

I shrug. ‘For a while. But he’s always trying different ones.’ I stare into my coffee, enjoying the burning sensation of the hot mug on my over-sensitive fingers. ‘I don’t always take them. But sometimes he watches me.’

I lean my head against the wall behind me, tired of holding it up. My mind might be straightening out, but the rest of me has a way to go. ‘I said I wanted control of my money back,’ I mumble, as if this seed of information isn’t important. ‘Before we moved. After what happened in Blackheath. But he said no. He said I had to take the pills for a while first to calm me down, then we’d talk about it. He’d been trying to get me to take them for a while, and I’d always said no, but then I thought after all that, I’d try. For him. For us.’

‘What happened at Blackheath?’ Her self-pity is gone now and she’s drawn back into our story. I pause for a long moment before speaking.

‘I think he had an affair.’ The words are barely a whisper, but she leans back slightly when she hears them, and her face flushes. Yeah, that hurts, doesn’t it? Now you know how it feels.

‘Are you sure?’ she asks.

I shrug. ‘I think so. The woman who owned the little cafe around the corner from the clinic of all people. Marianne, her name was.’ The pretty name is still bitter on my tongue.


Yeah, wow, Louise. Suck that up. You don’t feel so special now, do you? I want to giggle, and for a horrifying moment I think I will, so instead I cover my mouth and look away as if I’m fighting back tears.

‘This was supposed to be our fresh start. This house. This job. I asked for my money back again, just to be in control of it more, and he went mad. He … he …’ My breath hitches and Louise’s eyes widen.

‘He what, Adele?’

‘You know I said our cat died after we moved in?’ I pause. ‘Well, he kicked it. Really hard. And then, when she was dazed, he stamped on her.’ I stare towards the back door and the garden beyond where I buried it. ‘He killed her.’

Louise says nothing. What is there to say? She’s too horrified to speak.

‘That’s the thing with David,’ I continue, tired and still slurring slightly. ‘He can be so charming. So wonderfully funny and kind. But then when he’s angry he’s like a different person. I always seem to make him angry these days. I don’t understand why he doesn’t leave me if he’s so unhappy,’ I say. ‘I wish he’d love me again.’ And I do. I really, really do.

‘If he divorces you, he’ll have to give your estate back,’ she says. Her face hardens as the jigsaw puzzle pieces I’ve carefully laid out for her fall into place, and then she rummages in her bag and pulls out a mobile phone.

‘It’s pre-paid, and my number is in it. Hide it somewhere. But if you need me just text or call, okay?’

I nod.

‘You promise?’

‘I promise.’ I sip my cooling coffee, my hand still trembling.

‘And stop taking those pills if you can. They’re no good for you. You’re not sick. Fuck knows what they’re doing to your brain chemistry. Now let’s get you to bed. You can sleep this off before he gets home.’

‘What are you going to do, Louise?’ I ask, my arm draped around her shoulder as she helps me upstairs. ‘Don’t do anything silly, will you? Don’t confront David, will you?’

She laughs, slightly bitterly. ‘Unlikely, given that he’s fired me.’

‘He what?’ I feign surprise. ‘Oh Louise, this is all my fault. I’m so sorry.’

‘It’s not your fault. Don’t ever think that. You haven’t done anything wrong.’

Her body feels strong, firmer and tighter than when we first met. I’ve created this new Louise, and I feel a moment of pride as I sink down onto my comfortable bed.

‘Oh, Louise,’ I say sleepily, as if it’s an afterthought. ‘The plant pot at the front door. The right side.’

‘What about it?’

‘I hid a spare key in it in case I locked myself out. I want you to know that.’ I pause. ‘He locked me in once. I was scared.’

‘If he does that again, call me straight away.’ She’s almost growling, this fierce tiger of a woman.

‘I don’t know what I’d do without you,’ I murmur as she covers me with a blanket and then gently pushes my hair out of my face. ‘I really don’t.’

And it’s the truth.


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