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Behind Her Eyes: Part 3: Chapter 52

Adele

I sit in the quiet of the kitchen with only the steady ticking of the clock for company. It’s a strangely comforting sound. I wonder about that sometimes, the proliferation of noisy clocks in the world, each relentlessly marking out our lack of time. We should be terrified of them, and yet that repetitive tick somehow soothes the soul.

I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting here. I’m listening to the beat of the seconds, not watching the minutes and hours. I feel sidelined in my own life now. Redundant. It’s very nearly all over, and I feel empty and sad.

They say if you love someone, set them free. Well, I’m finally setting him free. There are easier ways to have done it than the route I’ve chosen, but you can’t fake trust and you can’t fake belief and you can’t fake the realisation of a truth. It has to be fresh. He needed to see those clearly in Louise’s eyes. The shock of having misjudged the entire situation. His innocence. Those were things I couldn’t give him.

He really does love her. I can’t fight that admission any longer. Hey ho, c’est la vie. I’ve had a good run. I feel adrift as I sit and wait and listen to my life trickling away. Yes, I conclude, as the shrill tone of the cheap mobile makes me jump from my reverie, I could have done everything differently, but this way has been far more interesting. At least I get to have that as my swansong.

Louise is all energy and anger and upset down the line, the antithesis to my calm. It fizzes into my ear, radiating like heat.

‘How long have you known?’ she asks. I can hear it’s taking all her control not to shriek the words at me. ‘I want to know what the fuck you’ve been playing at!’

She’s seething with rage, and it infects me.

‘I think I should be asking you that, don’t you? After all, you’re the one who’s been fucking my husband.’

‘What I don’t understand,’ she says, ignoring my barb, ‘is why you told me about the dreams. Why did you help me when there was a risk I’d find the second door? And if I did, that I’d figure all this out?’

The ungrateful bitch. ‘I didn’t know then.’ I keep my own sudden anger trapped inside. ‘I thought you were my friend. I was trying to help you. I never meet anyone like me, and you made me feel less alone.’ I can sense her distrust. A quiet hitch of breath at the other end.

‘You can only use the second door to go to places you know.’ I speak slowly, making sure it sinks in. ‘If you haven’t been there you can’t see there. You have to visualise the details.’ I lean back against the cool wall. ‘It was only when I was alone and missing you one evening that I went through the door to your flat. I wanted to see you. But instead I saw him there with you.’ I pause, and work up some attempt at tears. ‘That’s when I found out. Then I knew.’

She is an open book, Louise. I know she’s working through the logic of what I’ve said. She’s got too much in that head of hers right now to remember the conversation they had in the office that first morning about their drunken indiscretion. The office I’d had the tour of the day before. I remember it, though. Every word and action. Her nerves. His panic. Also, the heat from both of them at seeing each other again. I remember the absolute rage I had to manage until I forced our meeting and she told me about her night terrors. After that my anger melted into perfect joy. Potential enemy turned into a gift from God in those few moments. But for now, at least, what I’ve said makes sense to her. I’ve also given her some vital information. You have to visualise the details. Look at me, even now, helping her.

‘Why didn’t you say something? Why give me all this shit about David? Making me think all this stuff about him? These lies?’

Always looking for answers. Always needing to know. She should have been a detective. ‘Lies and truths are only perspectives. And why do you think?’ I focus on the task at hand, and raise my own voice slightly, upset and hurt. She wants a confession, I’m sure, but my game isn’t over yet. ‘You were my best friend. My first proper friend in ages. I wanted you to hate him. I wanted you to choose me! Why should I lose both of you? How is that fair? I hadn’t done anything wrong!’

That last might be pushing it a touch far given everything she knows, and I must sound like I’m crazy. Of course, as far as she’s concerned, I am crazy.

‘I wanted you to love me the most.’ My voice is softer now, as if my burst of energy has been too much. ‘But you loved him, and you only ever felt sorry for me. Pity and guilt, that was all you ever felt for me while you merrily slept with the man I love.’ I may not have much moral high ground, but the wronged wife is one ledge I’m going to stand on.

‘That’s not true, and you know it.’ A defensive lilt in her voice. I imagine her face has flushed. She’s so predictable. ‘I was your friend,’ she continues. ‘I thought you were mine, and I tried to stop it. It had started before I’d even met you. I didn’t know he was married. I tried to end it. And it did end.’

It’s her turn to be economical with the truth. It did end, but only when I intervened and he found out about our friendship. Louise would have gone on guiltily spreading her legs for him behind my back if he hadn’t panicked and finished it. Protecting her from me. That’s David. Forever saving women. Of course that version of events doesn’t suit her view of herself, so she likes to think her guilt would have won out and she would have ended it anyway. I know people better than that. I know her better than that.

‘Well, now you have lost both of us,’ she says, defiantly.

‘No, I haven’t. He won’t leave me. He’ll never leave me.’

‘You don’t get it.’ She’s talking to me like I’m a child. ‘I believed you. I believed everything you said. I went to the police with it.’

‘You did what?’ I emit an almost-gasp. Surprised. Or at least a good impression of it.

‘I wrote them a letter. Addressed to the policeman who investigated the fire that killed your parents. The one who thought David was involved. I told them all about Rob and how I thought his body was still somewhere on your estate.’

‘You did what? Why would you do that? I never told you to do that.’

‘I did it because I’m stupid and I didn’t know you were crazy then!’

‘They won’t believe you,’ I mutter, standing and pacing the hall, my head down as if I’m frantically thinking. She can’t see me, but she’ll hear my footsteps. She’ll sense my worry. ‘They won’t believe you.’

‘No,’ she says, ‘maybe not.’ A breath. ‘But they will believe him.’

I freeze and pause. ‘What?’ I say.

‘He’s on his way to Scotland to speak to them. He’s going to tell them everything. He’s going to tell them the truth.’

A long moment of quiet falls between us, only the relentless tick of the clock breaking the silence.

‘But he can’t!’ I say eventually. ‘They won’t … He can’t … He wouldn’t …’

‘But he has. And no, they won’t believe him. You’re too good for that. They’ll arrest him.’

I can hear her momentary joy at how aghast I am. At how we’re both hurting now. I see all that potential love for him that she’s denied for so long, burning brightly inside her.

‘We both know he didn’t kill Rob,’ she says. ‘Why can’t you just say that?’

‘They’ll put him in prison,’ I say so quietly it’s barely a whisper. ‘They’ll take him away from me.’ Tears spring from the corners of my eyes. Just the thought of being separated from David can cause a physical reaction in me, even now.

‘Why couldn’t you have hated him?’ It’s my turn to shout. ‘Why? Why would you do this?’

She doesn’t answer, so I wail like an animal and sink to the ground. ‘You were just supposed to hate him,’ I cry into the handset. ‘You were supposed to choose me.’ I pull my knees up under my chin as I snivel snotty tears onto my silk sleeve, lost in my role. ‘What am I supposed to do now? He can’t leave me. He can’t. He won’t.’

‘He has,’ she says, Louise now the calm one, now the one in control. ‘But you can stop this, Adele. You’re the only one who can stop this. Tell the truth. At least tell me the truth, here and now.’

Oh no, little goody-two-shoes, I want to hiss at her. It’s not going to be that easy.

‘You’re sick, Adele.’

Oh bless you for that, Louise, you husband-stealing sorry excuse for a woman. We both know the word you’re actually thinking is ‘crazy’.

‘The pills you haven’t been taking will help you,’ she continues. ‘If you go to the police and tell them the truth – if what happened with Rob was an accident and you panicked – well, they’ll be easier on you. All you did was hide the body. With David they’ll think it was murder. They might think he murdered your parents too.’

I note that she’s very carefully avoiding suggesting that perhaps I murdered all three – psycho crazy Adele.

‘They’ll be gentler on you. Mitigating circumstances. You’d lost your family and had been in therapy. They won’t put you in prison, I’m sure of it.’

Oh, what a honey’d-tongue she has. No, they might not put me in prison, but I hear Broadmoor’s no walk in the park either, thank you very much.

‘Why would he do this?’ I moan. ‘Why?’

‘He doesn’t love you, Adele. He hasn’t for a long time. He’s just been trying to look after you. To do the best for you.’

I want to punch her in the face for her false sympathy and her presumption to know so much about our marriage. I dig my fingernails into my knees instead as she continues.

‘Why make him suffer? If you really love him – and I think you do – you can save him from this. You can’t keep him, Adele. You can’t trap him with you. That’s no life, not for either of you. But maybe if you tell the truth, if you protect him now when he needs you, then maybe you can put something right.’

‘You’ve taken everything from me,’ I whisper again. I will not admit to any guilt. Not at this late stage in the game. ‘What am I supposed to do without him?’

‘You could do the right thing,’ she says. ‘Prove you love him. Let all this shit be over with. At least maybe that way he won’t hate you. Maybe you won’t hate you.’

‘Fuck off,’ I whisper, enjoying the crude language in my mouth. I sit there shaking for a moment until the rage bursts from me in a blaze of spit. ‘Fuck off!’ I shriek at her again, and then burst into tears.

There’s a click and a dead tone in my ear and I’m alone again with the endless ticking of the clock. God, she’s a patronising bitch at times, I think, as I get to my feet, pocket the phone, and wipe my tears away. But she’s right though. It is time that I made everything better.


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