Seven Days Of You

On the first day, we were young,
And free to do as we wished.
Our friendship blossomed into fun,
My insecurities vanished.

On day two, we shared a kiss,
A surprise to me and you.
A day apart was one to miss,
As our love for each other grew.

The third day came and we were wed,
In front of all our friends.
That evening we first shared a bed,
Knowing not all that’s good ends.

On the fourth, I held him in my arms,
Our baby, small and weak.
I swore to you he’d see no harm,
As you left me in your sleep.

I don’t recall day number five,
Existence hard to bear.
I could hardly believe I was alive,
Life no longer yours to share.

The sixth day came and our little boy left,
University called his name.
All alone, I felt bereft,
Life is one sick game.

But on day seven something altered,
A light came shining through.
My heart, its beating long since faltered,
Remembered life with you.

Seven Days Of You

Awake. 

It’s dark and you’re alone. The house is quiet as you prepare for bed, only water running as you brush your teeth. 

You turn off the bathroom light and wander through to your bedroom. 

Through the window, a street lamp glows. You shut the door, pull the curtains closed and turn off the light. Darkness permits you to wind down for sleep.

Your mobile phone illuminates you as you scroll through Facebook and Twitter. Holding it before you, one-handed, little finger supporting the bottom and thumb moving over the screen.
You blink in your tiredness, yawning as you see yet another update on a child whose parents are snap-happy.

Twenty days til little Owen has his first birthday. You wonder if any of the 30 people who liked the status actually care or if they’re as bored as you are of the fourth update of the day.

You blink again, eyes refocusing hazily on the small, bright screen. Your eyes drift up and left, away from the screen for a moment. And back again.
The time is eleven thirty. You should probably sleep, but your thumb moves up and down almost automatically.
Yawn.
Blink.
Time to call it a night. You reach down for your charger lead and plug in your phone. Alarm set for work tomorrow, you slide the device onto your nightstand and turn over.
The room is still dimly lit by the glowing screen. Fidget, toss, turn. Sleep comes but you can never tell when.
You wake up. At first, you think you must need a wee. Then you notice the tickling sensation. Circles, drawn delicately on the side of your bare foot.
Tired, your mind takes time to consider the feeling.
You move your feet, kicking the sheets away from your feet. The tickling stops. And starts again.
Slow, soft circles.
You sit up quickly. The circling stops. The room is dark and yours is the only presence. Sleep washes over you again.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
What were you dreaming? It’s gone and you’re awake again. Still nighttime, still pitch black.
Tap.
You remember the noise that woke you up.
Tap.
Tap.
You lift your head from the pillow, blinking in the shadowed room.

Tap.

Your wardrobe emits a timid tapping sound. Wood on wood? Fingernail on wood?
Tap.
You sit up fully, reaching to unplug your phone. The screen illuminates and offers a slight torch. Nothing to see.
Tap.
You slip out from under your bedsheets and walk to the source of tapping.
Tap.
The wardrobe is still but the tapping continues. Mind still half-asleep, you vaguely realise that this is unusual.
Your hand reaches for the door. You hold the phone up, aiming the soft light at the solid piece of furniture.
Tap.
Swiftly, you pull open the door. Nothing inside. Nothing moving. Nothing causing a sound.
The tapping.

You wait.

And wait.

But the tapping has stopped.

Relieved yet unsure as to why, you turn around and get back into bed.
Before you have even closed your eyes, you hear it again.
Tap.
You ignore it.
Tap.
You shut your eyes and allow your body to relax again. But not your mind.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap tap tap tap.
It grows quicker, more rapid, almost now a solid bang. Fist on wood.
No, it must be from outside.
But you know it’s from the wardrobe.
Bang.
Bang.
Thud.
You sit up quickly. What’s that? That shadow at the end of your bed.
It’s gone.

It was nothing. A trick of the light.

Silence.

Your breathing, erratic, is the only sound.
You stay sitting. Minutes pass by, as you start to consider laying back down. Going to sleep. Ignoring whatever sounds you have been hearing.
And you shudder. Why do you shudder? What was that?
You feel it again. On the nape of your neck.
A blow of wind.

A breath.

Tears fill the corners of your eyes. You can’t move. You can’t look behind you because…
There it is again. A slow, purposeful blow of air focussed on the bare skin of your neck.
You snap your head to the left but nothing is there. You stare at the wall.
Footsteps patter on the floor. Away from you. Towards your bedroom door. And they stop.

You shuffle backwards, your spine pressed against the cool wall. Your mind is playing tricks on you. Noise from outside, a breeze from the window… You rationalise and breathe deeply.

You’re awake now, really awake, and you need a wee. You start to muster courage, before reminding yourself that you’re alone. There’s nothing to be scared of.
Your feet are on the floor, you push yourself up and walk out of the room into the bathroom.
You turn on the light, which calms you. The flush of the toilet fills the house with sound and you turn on the tap to wash your hand.
Your head shoots up. Your face stares back, reflected in the mirror. But you saw something. You’re sure of it.

Something caught your eye in the mirror. But it’s just you.

Alone and afraid.

Afraid of nothing, it seems.

You turn off the tap, drying your hands on the towel.

BANG!

Your eyes go wide. It sounded like a door slamming. Slowly, you step out of the bathroom. You see your bedroom door is shut.

How? A gust of wind?

But there’s no breeze – no draught.

Footsteps. Running this time. On the stairs. Loud at first and then quieter. Going down.

You stand at the top of the stairs and look down. Nothing there.

Panicking, you sweep towards your bedroom, closing the door behind you and diving onto your bed.

And you sigh, relieved. And then you realise that the door had been open.
You pick up your phone and consider texting someone. But who would be awake at… 3am?
You type into Facebook, ‘So creeped out right now, keep hearing things and I’m home alone!’

Hopefully someone is awake, someone will comment and you’ll feel less alone.

Footsteps.

This time, running up the stairs. Unmistakable footsteps. Into the bathroom. The door slams shut.

Water.

The sound of water rushing out of taps, hitting ceramic and eventually water gushing into water.
Your first thought is to call the police. Someone has broken in.

Dialling 999, you lift the phone to your face.

And then you feel it again. That soft blow on your neck. The phone drops out of your hand. You snap your head around but nothing is there.

You pick up your phone and it’s switched off. The power button does nothing.
Breathing heavily, you drop your phone on your bed. Back against the wall, you pick up a heavy book from your bookcase and walk towards the door.
You open it. Step out onto the landing. Walk quietly to the bathroom and open the door. The sink and bath are filling up with water. But it’s empty.

You turn off the taps and perch on the toilet, looking out of the door. Waiting.

Waiting.

You stand up. Decide you’ll go downstairs and watch TV until morning. You’ll never sleep now.

You go to the sink and take out the plug.

Look up.

Reflection in the mirror.
Your face.
And another. Behind you.

Turn around.

Gone.

Back to the mirror. Nothing there.

You run now, down the stairs and into the living room. Turn on a light and switch on the TV, watching from the sofa.

Paranoid. Scared. Alone.
No more sounds. Nothing else happens.
You don’t know when, but you fall back to sleep. Slumped on the sofa.

When you wake up, it’s still dark. Your eyes blink open slowly.

The TV is off. The light is off.

You want to cry, scream, shout.

And you try.
But you can’t.

Something is stopping you. A hand over your mouth, invisible but there. Pressing down. Forcing silence upon you.

Your eyes flit from side to side, landing on the blank television screen. And there you see it.

Reflection.

Yourself, sitting on the sofa, and a woman with her hand over your mouth.
You snap your eyes away and look directly in front of you.
She smiles back.
Awake. 

Coffee. 

I like coffee in my mouth 

The stain on my teeth
The brewing breakfast beverage
Milk is a sin
Sugar forbidden
Alive
Awake
Abandon. 
Coffee from bean
Bean from nature
Nature from God
God from imagination
Imagination from coffee. 
The circle of life
The Nescafé cycle
Costa lot
Or Costa little
Fair Trade or no trade.  
I like coffee on my tongue
Bitter right down to my lungs
Electric tingle down my spine
When I drink coffee
To feel alive. 
Coffee. 

Time-Machine.

If someone invented a time-travel machine,

And offered adventure to up-ahead or past-seen,

But you had only one chance to jump on and go,

Would it be past or future? Unforeseen or long ago?

 

You could try to stop Hitler, or meet Henry Eight,

Join Chris Columbus, find America the Great,

Sing with the Beatles and rock with Elvis Presley,

Watch Shakespeare at the Globe, or kickbox with Bruce Lee.

 

That old dinner with five people, dead or alive,

Not impossible thanks to this magic device.

But the past is the past, that is true enough said,

Is it wrong to want to visit those that are dead?

 

The future, after all, is a mystical place,

And we’ll never know what worries we’ll have to face.

Glimpsing years ahead may show you another war,

You could find out in advance what we’re fighting for.

 

Unanswerable questions could be already solved,

You come back to present, future problems resolved.

Do we stop being selfish, us human beings?

For the sake of our planet, are we foreseeing?

 

And what of your own life, your friends and family,

Is it all bright and joyous, or should you not see?

Could you return and be happy, or just feel glum,

If you saw that your future was squalor and slum?

 

So what would you opt for, were you given the chance:

Relive happy times or see new ones in advance?

Perhaps the right answer is one not considered,

Stay here contented, your mind thus not untethered.

 

Why visit the past when all is unchangeable?

Why see the future when right now is unstable?

Live for the moment while cherishing memory,

Embrace the next chapters; excitement and mystery.

 

Time-Machine.

Bullied.

Safely tucked under a duvet cocoon
Alarm rings to say that school will start soon
Arm reaches out and hits the snooze button
An act of defiance, fear – not glutton

Breakfast is quiet, chew slowly on toast
Mum stares, looking worried; angry almost
Toothpaste squeezed on brush, glance a reflection
How did you catch this nasty infection?

Walk to school with a friend who is drifting
Afraid they’ll catch the pain that’s inflicting
Criss-crossing fence, buildings, sign on the gate
School bell is ringing, don’t care that you’re late

Swerve round a corner and met with a sneer
A punch, kick, malicious words in your ear
Teacher as your witness turns a blind eye
Kids being kids, no real problem, a sigh

Worse day by day, week by week, let it end
Infinite problem, can’t even pretend
That the abuse will stop, life is consumed
Hoping someone might help, pain be exhumed

Can’t tell an adult, ignored by a mate
Perhaps it’s your fault, or all down to fate
Food goes untouched, body smaller and hunched
Internal trauma ev’ry time you are punched

What will it take, a hospital visit?
Before words explain, so it’s explicit
Because silence is pain, invisible
But not you, a soldier, with your own war

Temporary darkness, an end in sight
Words are the answer, not physical fight
Speak out, shout, find a saviour, finally
Because youth is too fleeting to be wrecked by a bully.

DC

Bullied.

No Love, No Good, No Better – A poem written in song titles.

Here is a poem, written using song titles from my iTunes.

Full list of artists below, try seeing how many you can get before looking!

***

Hello, Ho Hey, Say Something

Give Me Love, Stand By Me, Sing

My Girl Livin’ On A Prayer

Baby, Fall, I Know You Care

 

All I Got, it’s Sad But True

I Wish, I Want, Only You.

We Are Young, Larger Than Life

You Ain’t The First, Laserlight

 

Chasing Pavements, Chasing Cars

Stay You, Just The Way You Are.

No Matter What I’m Me, I’m Yours

Feel The Love, Hurt, Human – Flaws.

 

Teenage Dream, Climb On Board

Jizz In My Pants, Rock Me, Roar

Pump Up The Jam, Praise You, Shout

Paradise City, Pass Out

 

Wake Me Up, Grow Old With Me

I Will Wait Tik Tok Happy

Without You I’m Half A Heart

Fly Away Encore Une Fois

 

Goodbye To You, Let It Go

I Knew You Were Trouble, Low

 

Internet Friends Under Pressure

No Love, No Good, and No Better.

 

***

LIST OF ARTISTS:

 

Martin Solveig & Dragonette, The Lumineers, Great Big World & Christina Aguilera

Ed Sheeran, Ben. E. King, Travis

The Temptations, Bon Jovi

Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding

 

Newton Faulkner, Metallica

One Direction, One Direction, Ellie Goulding

Fun., Backstreet Boys

Guns n’ Roses, David Guetta feat. Jessie J

 

Adele, Snow Patrol

Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, Ed Sheeran + Wiley, Bruno Mars

Boyzone, Lil’ Wayne, Jason Mraz

Rudimental, Johnny Cash, The Killers, Bastille

 

Katy Perry, Labrinth

The Lonely Island, One Direction, Katy Perry

Technotronic ft. Felly, Fatboy Slim, Lulu

Guns n’ Roses, Tinie Tempah

 

Avicii, Tom Odell

Mumford & Sons, Ke$ha, Pharell

David Guetta feat. Usher, One Direction,

Lenny Kravitz, Sash!

 

Ed Sheeran + Dot Rotten, Idina Menzel (Frozen OST)

Taylor Swift, Flo Rida

Knife Party, Queen

Eminem feat. Lil’ Wayne, The Prodigy, Lorde

 

(I just wrote what I had on my iTunes so if I’ve missed any featured artists or have listed a cover version well, stop being pedantic.)

No Love, No Good, No Better – A poem written in song titles.

A Tidy Mess (Part Four)

Part one

Part two

Part three

***

 

Katherine felt sick as she looked upon her aunty and uncle’s house. Her dad had died inside those walls. Her father’s death was a memory that she did not hold and yet, in that moment, she was reliving it.

 

Harriett was shocked when she answered the door to her niece whom she had not seen for over a year. Wordlessly, she welcomed the surprise visitor into her home and offered her a comforting embrace.

 

‘Darling, I am so sorry,’ said Harriett.

Katherine looked up into her aunt’s dark green eyes. They were almost identical to her father’s.

‘Wh-where?’ Katherine stuttered.

‘Where what, darling?’

‘Where did you… where was he?’

Harriett sighed, gazing at the broken girl standing before her. She looked over her shoulder towards the bottom of the stairs. Katherine walked slowly over to the spot where her father had taken his last breaths just one week ago. She fell to her knees and began to cry.

 

It had been the slowest week of Katherine’s life. The police were no closer to finding out who had murdered her father and she was growing more frustrated each day. It did not help that nobody else seemed to care. Her mother tried to comfort her with effortless hugs and meaningless ‘I understand’s while Rob seemed to be avoiding her completely.

 

The police had questioned Rob, Katherine knew that, but she did not know what he had told them. He must have had an alibi to keep them from suspecting him and yet Katherine still could not trust her brother. The murder investigation had consumed Katherine to the point where she could not distinguish between her grief for her dead father and her anger towards the mystery murderer.

 

That was why she had decided to visit the place where Tim had died.

 

Harriett did not want to see Katherine and so when she had turned up uninvited on her doorstep, she was annoyed. She knew that her niece would ask questions, and Harriett was fed up of giving the same answers.

 

She had been the one to find her brother’s  lifeless, bloody corpse early on Monday morning. Her husband, Martin, was paying the taxi driver when he heard her scream. The pair stood in the doorway, unable to fully open the door blocked by Tim’s body, struck by devastation as they realised instantly that Tim was dead. Martin phoned the police immediately and their nightmare began.

 

They had been due home from holiday late Sunday night but due to a ‘technical fault’ their flight had been delayed. When the police first confirmed Tim’s approximate time of death Harriett and Martin could only wonder whether, if their flight had been on time, they would have been home before the incident. Would Tim still be alive or would they have still been too late?

 

When they were finally allowed back in their house, nothing was out of place. It was exactly how they knew Tim would have left it: immaculately clean and tidy with everything in it’s place. The rug had been straightened, all doors had been shut, and the cream carpet was clear from any traces of dirt. Nobody knew exactly what had been used to kill Tim, either: the ornament of the violinist was on the window sill, cleaned from Tim’s blood.

 

Harriett and Martin were the only people, aside from Katherine, who felt truly saddened by Tim’s passing. Living in the house had become almost unbearable; they expected him to arrive home from work every evening, Harriett still laid three places at the table, and they felt uneasy all the time. Somebody had broken into their house without leaving a single trace, and that worried them more than anything. They changed their alarm and their locks, they triple-checked that everything was locked even when they were inside their house. And yet, none of their extra security measures helped.

 

Katherine left a few hours after arriving, emotionally drained yet feeling somehow less anguished. Harriett began to prepare the dinner, ready for when her husband arrived home from work. She turned on the radio to distract her from her thoughts, and hummed along as she peeled, chopped and sautéed. Her mood lifted slightly after an emotional afternoon.

 

As Harriett plated up two hearty meals, she accidentally splashed her  chest with the boiling hot sauce. She tore off her top and splashed cool water on her burning skin. Annoyed, she made her way upstairs to change into something else. She looked into the mirror on her wardrobe door and realised how tired she looked. Sighing, she opened the door and pulled out a dress and her make-up bag. She wriggled out of her skinny jeans and donned the flowery purple dress.

 

Harriett closed the door and glanced back into the mirror. Two reflections stared back. She went to scream, but a hand clasped over her mouth to prevent any noise from escaping. She struggled and kicked her legs back, but her attacker was too strong. A hand slipped down from her mouth to around her neck, the thumb pressing forcefully against her windpipe. She looked in the mirror to see her attacker grinning maniacally, both of them watching as she lost her grip on the world.

 

Harriett’s limp body fell to the floor. Her murderer looked down upon their victim and admired their work.

 

‘Two down, one to go.’ 

A Tidy Mess (Part Four)

A Tidy Mess (Part Three)

Part one

Part two

***

Katherine had made a list. She did not use pen and paper, nor had she made any conscious effort, but she had compiled a short list of people’s names. Suspects. Over and over again she silently repeated the list of names: Carly, Greg, Trudy, Granddad Keith, Shane and Rob.

Katherine knew what her father had done to Carly and Greg, breaking apart their relationship and then destroying Carly after their affair ended. She had never met Trudy, Tim’s boss, but he was always talking about how much she hated him. Her grandfather, her mum’s dad, had sworn to hunt Tim down and kill him after he left his family in pieces. Katherine would never have seriously considered her granddad as a suspect, but her thoughts were fast becoming irrational.

James was not a person Katherine had met, nor had she really heard about him, but he had heard Rob casually discussing possible killers with their mother. Ellen had no idea who it could have been and she immediately discarded Rob’s suggestion of Carly or Greg. From what Katherine could pick out, her ear pressed to the living room door, Shane used to be friends with Tim. Apparently her father did something to piss him off. She did not hear exactly what her father did, however, because her neighbour had chosen that moment to begin mowing his lawn.

The reason Rob was on the list was because Katherine had no idea where he was on the evening of Tim’s death. Neither did Ellen. He refused to answer questions about his whereabouts, although Katherine knew that the police would want to know more. If it was Rob, he would have no alibi. But she didn’t seriously believe that her brother would kill their father, no matter how much he detested the man.

In reality, Katherine’s list was extremely short. While it should be more difficult than it was to compile a list of a man’s suspected murderers, for anyone who properly knew Tim it would have been easy to find over ten names. But nobody did know Tim, not really. He was not a complicated man, but he led a complicated and messy life.

After he left his family in Devon and moved in with his sister and brother-in-law in Salisbury, Tim had become even more of an enigma than before.

Tim’s parents refused to speak to him after Ellen had told them of the atrocities their son had committed. Harriett and Martin were the only people Tim had left, and they gave him somewhere to stay. Katherine knew it was out of pity that they reached out to her father, but she appreciated it nonetheless – they had saved him.

But Tim did not change. While Katherine was fed lies from her father’s mouth about the tidy life he had created for himself, he had continued to cause people pain and upset.

The last of his crimes against innocent people began when he got a job at a supermarket in the city centre. After working for a week on the checkouts, it had come to Tim’s attention that customers were often unwise. Elderly men and women would come to his till, slowly withdraw their wallets, retrieve their debit cards, and stare intently for a couple of seconds at the interior of their card holders before entering their PINs.

It did not take Tim long to work out that these customers had their security codes scribbled on a piece of paper, stuck just above the pockets in which their bank cards were stored. A quick glance over the counter and Tim could see the four digit numbers.

After hatching his simple plan, Tim waited for his next customer that had made this error. A man of around seventy years shuffled to his till, offering a basket of groceries to the sales assistant. Tim scanned and bagged the items, including a gardening magazine. Taking this as a helpful cue, Tim then engaged his customer in a thrilling conversation about gardening, pretending that he was a keen gardener himself. When the man extracted his debit card from his brown, leather wallet, Tim quickly scanned and remembered the PIN, scrawled in black biro in the spot he had been expecting. Continuing the conversation, Tim managed to distract the customer by handing over his bags of shopping. He quickly grabbed the card from the machine and bid the customer goodbye. Wallet in his pocket and hands busied with heavy bags, the customer exited the shop unaware that his card had been stolen.

A few weeks and several scammed shoppers later, Tim’s manager, Trudy, called a staff meeting. It had come to her attention that an unusually high number of customers were calling into the store to check if they had lost their wallets. All of them claimed to have been served by a man fitting two of the workers’ descriptions: Tim and his colleague, James.

Furthermore, a few of these customers had called the shop to warn them that money had been taken from their accounts after having lost their cards there. James had immediately denied all claims and shunted all of the blame onto Tim, who feigned innocence and ignorance. After an hour of failed reasoning and blame-shifting Trudy warned the two men that he would have to alert the police.

Nothing was proved and while the CCTV footage showed Tim hurrying customers from the till, it was not substantial enough for Tim to be labelled the guilty party. Over that few days, Tim had managed to convince most of his colleagues that it was James who had stolen the bank cards. Tim soon became the victim. James left the job just days before Tim did. He had worked there for fifteen years and had a pending application for supervisor, and yet Tim had driven him away after just four short weeks.

Tim did not care that he had ruined James’ career. He did not worry that he had swindled tens of elderly people out of hundreds of pounds. He did not spare a thought for anyone but himself.

The evening after he left that job for the final time, Tim drove back to Harriett’s house in the Porsche he had borrowed from Martin. They had gone away on holiday for the week, and so Tim permitted himself access to the gleaming car.

He did not know that someone was waiting for him inside the house, but he would have had a good idea of who to expect.

A Tidy Mess (Part Three)

A Tidy Mess (Part Two)

The news of Tim’s death spread through Salisbury quickly.

Everyone reacted with a gasp of shock and horror, but nobody feigned sadness. It was horrible news, one that had surely affected his family in a tremendous way, but it would have taken real effort to mourn such a horrible man.

Tim had no family, not anymore. His daughter was the only person who had continued to bother with him. She would never forgive him for all the pain he had caused so many people, but he was her father and she needed him.

When Ellen, Tim’s ex-wife, heard the news she was unsure how she should react. The police had knocked on her front door early on Monday morning to break the tragic news. He had been murdered. She cried, although she was unsure whether the tears were real or merely for the benefit of the two strangers sitting opposite her. When they left the house and Ellen was alone again, a feeling of relief swept over her. Or, at least, she thought it was relief.

She phoned her best friend, Greg, to tell him what had happened. He did not hold back.

“Good, the bastard deserved it after all he did,” he spat down the phone. “Are you okay?” He then asked, worrying that he had been insensitive.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just…” She paused. “It’s just, how am I going to tell Katherine? She’s going to be devastated.”

Ellen was right. She had requested for her two children to come to the house immediately, which they did. When she broke the news, in what she considered to be a sensitive yet slightly detached manner, Katherine screamed as though she was in unbearable pain and sobbed violently while Ellen tried to console her. Rob, Katherine’s brother, remained fixed to the spot, his face unchanged.

Rob, like his mother, was not saddened by the loss of Tim (or ‘ The Sperm Donor’, as he referred to him in the rare occasions he was mentioned in his presence). For the last year, Rob had completely denied Tim’s existence and so he had already come to terms with losing his father. As he watched his sister crying inconsolably, he pitied her. Maybe she was too young, too naïve, to understand why she should be happy that she was free at last from their scumbag dad.

It was a year ago that the family found out what had been happening. Rob had grown suspicious of his father’s actions long before they came to light but he had remained silent, afraid that he would upset his mother or anger his father. Tim was usually a calm man, but when pushed he had been known to present his son with a black eye. Once, when Tim had unearthed that a fifteen-year-old Rob had stolen money from his wallet, purchased alcohol and cigarettes, and spent a weekend at his friend’s house having parties with his school friends, he had hit Rob so hard in the ribs that they had to go to A&E. So that his father would not tell Ellen about the weekend, Rob had said that he had been riding his bike and had fallen over the handlebars.

One evening, while Tim was marking some of his students’ essays, Rob heard his father’s ringtone in the kitchen. He answered it and a woman answered back. She thought it was Tim.

“Hi babe, are you free to talk?” The woman’s husky voice asked.

“Yeah,” replied Tim, not really thinking about what he was doing.

“Last night was amazing, I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“Me too, it was fun.” Rob knew he was not being very convincing, but the woman on the other end of the line didn’t seem to notice.

“When can I see you again?” She asked.

Rob suspected that he would regret it when he replied, “Tonight.”

Rob agreed to meet his father’s mystery woman at a pub in a nearby village. He shouted up to his father that he needed to borrow his car and left the house. He waited in the car park for ten minutes until a burgundy Mondeo pulled up next to him. She looked into his car, smiling, but then her face dropped. Rob was horrified to see that his father’s mystery woman was Carly, his mum’s best friend. He had know Carly, her husband Greg, and their twin sons since he could remember, yet Rob had not managed to recognise her voice on the phone; he would never have expected his father to have an affair with her.

Angry and confused, Rob sped off without asking any questions, and confronted his father. Tim made no threats nor did he try to deny anything. He promised to tell his wife, but Ellen had entered the house during the shouting match and heard everything.

That evening was the worst night of Rob’s life. He witnessed the screaming, the crying, the arguing and the unravelling of many truths. His father had been having an affair with Carly for over two years. All the evenings Tim spent at school marking essays and meeting with the other teachers in his department were actually evenings spent somewhere secret with his wife’s best friend.

Rob was relieved that Katherine had moved out a few weeks previously, so she did not have to know all the small details that were being yelled through the house by their mother. She threw her husband out and told him never to return. But the next day, she changed her mind.

For the next month-or-so, Ellen and Tim carried on as if nothing had happened. When Greg had heard about his wife’s affair, he had kicked her out immediately and vowed to cut off Tim’s testicles if he ever saw him again. He stopped talking to Ellen altogether, unable to forgive her for staying with the man who had ruined their lives.

Ellen was in constant turmoil. She was always anxious to know where Tim was and called him constantly to check up on his whereabouts. Eventually, she cracked. Switching on his laptop and searching through his files, Ellen thought she would put her mind to rest. Instead, she discovered that her husband’s treachery was only the beginning.

Three different girls had been emailing Tim. Blackmail. Threats to tell the headmaster, to tell their parents, to tell Tim’s wife. Three of Tim’s students were claiming that he had made passes at them. Ellen felt sick as she read the messages. None of them mentioned the word ‘sex’, but that was only a mild relief in the cobweb of lies in which she was trapped. Tim was the spider, creeping over girls and women, spinning a web of destruction.

Ellen phoned the school to report the emails and Tim’s career, family, and reputation crashed around him. His family, except Katherine, detested him, his best friend wanted to kill him, and the families of the three fifteen-year-old girls had a score to settle. Tim was forced to leave his home in West Devon and moved to his sister and brother-in-law’s house in Salisbury. He left behind tens of people who hated him to start anew.

However, it seemed that Tim was so accustomed to making enemies that he had forgotten how to make friends. His fresh start was the beginning of his sticky end.

A Tidy Mess (Part Two)

Surprise!

What a day. Work was utter chaos, mainly because I’m surrounded by morons. Not a single person in my office has any common sense and I spend a huge part of every day wondering why I employed them. I’m surprised they even managed to write a CV, never mind making it past the interview stage. To make this Friday even more wonderful, everyone decided to go to the pub and insisted that I go along for a ‘quick half’.  Three pints later and I’m finally home, looking forward to seeing the wife and watching a bit of TV. A relaxing end to a stressful week.

I open the front door, switch the living room light on and have a minor heart attack. The room is full of people shouting ‘Happy birthday!’ flailing their arms excitedly and there’s Jay with a big grin on her face. I realise she thinks she’s done a nice thing for me and so return her smile, my peaceful Friday evening slipping away from my grasp. My ever-so-thoughtful wife gives me a hug and wishes me a happy birthday. I manage a ‘thank you’ through clenched teeth.

Stepping back to evaluate the turnout, I’m surprised that I’m happy to see some people. There’s my sister and her husband, a few cousins who I haven’t seen since last Christmas, the mates that haven’t yet managed to piss me off, and Jay’s best friend who is irritating but easy on the eye. Not too bad. But then amongst these welcome guest, I spot some others. Those people I have on Facebook but can’t bear the sight of. They are all here. In my house. For me. Ridiculous.

The first dickhead I see is Alan. This is the man who haunted my nightmares for three years when I worked in the restaurant. He is nerdy, needy and weedy. The bloke followed me around. He was everywhere. He worked the same shifts as me, had his lunch breaks at the same time as me, and even joined the same gym as me. And then he figured out my routine. I’d work out in the morning and he was there, waiting for me. I’d have a cigarette before going into work, and he was there. He started smoking so he could join me. Obsessed is the word. Why he was here, in my house, I had no idea. Jay can’t have invited him.

But he’s not the worst one. Sitting on an armchair looking like she can smell a bad fart is Jay’s sister. She hates me and I hate her. At our wedding, when the vicar asked if anyone had any objections, she stood up. Jay’s only bridesmaid stood up and squealed, barely able to contain her excitement, ‘I object!’.  Why did she object? Because apparently we had slept with each other behind Jay’s back. Apparently I was in love with her. Apparently I should have been marrying her instead. Thankfully, everyone saw through it and didn’t believe her. She’s a compulsive liar. She lied that she was pregnant once just so a bloke wouldn’t break up with her. Crazy, that’s what she is. Besides, we only slept together once and I was absolutely hammered.

Then I see Charlotte and Kerry. What was Jay thinking when she invited those two imbeciles?! Jay lived with these two through all three years of university which meant I saw them every single day when we started seeing each other. The only word that can really describe them is empty. There’s nothing between their ears except their wide eyes. When I first met them, I thought they were funny. Then I realised that they were just completely stupid. How they got through university I will never know. It is impossible to hold a conversation with them, they barely understand English. I make a mental note to avoid them at all costs and then I see the worst of them all.

Harold fucking Noakes. This time I look at Jay and shake my head. She smiles apologetically and scarpers into the kitchen, hopefully to get me a strong drink. I’m going to need it to get through the night. Harry is every man’s worst nightmare. We met him at our local one night and he seemed like an alright lad. Over time he became a good friend to us both. Then Jay and I had a fight one day and she went to live with her sister for a week or two. I didn’t see Harry for that whole time, but Jay did. He was going over there every day with comforting words and a shoulder for Jay to cry on. I stayed here moping around none the wiser. Then, I see them in our local together one night. The look on his face. I could have wiped that smug grin off his mug and he would never have seen it coming. Then Jay walked over to me. We chatted and decided to go for dinner the next evening to sort things out. That smarmy git’s face dropped like a teenager’s testicles. I only carried on talking to him because Jay insisted that he talked her into getting back with me. But I know he just saw his opportunity to pounce. He didn’t even come to our wedding, not that I wanted him there of course.

Jay comes in and hands me a cold can of lager. I take a few swigs and try to appreciate her good intentions. It’s not every day your wife throws you  surprise birthday party, I suppose. I make my way around the room, thanking people for coming, insisting that I had no idea there would be a party, and pretending to laugh at anecdotes about things I’d rather forget. The majority of guests at my birthday party are those I had hoped never to see again. Maybe the people I actually like are busy, because Jay can’t have just invited this group of idiots.

It gets late and gradually everyone leaves our home. I sit on the sofa and yawn. Finally I get to relax. Jay comes and plonks herself next to me, equally as tired.

“Did you enjoy it?” She asks me.

“Yeah, I really did. Thanks love.” I smile at her and give her a quick peck.

“You’re not too annoyed at me inviting my sister and Harry, then?”

I lie, “No, of course not. It was lovely to see them.”

We sit there in silence, too shattered to talk. I consider going to bed, but she speaks again before I can move.

“I know you slept with my sister, Carl.”

My heart skips a beat and I struggle to find my words. “What? No I didn’t. She’s a liar, you know that.” I don’t sound at all convincing.

“It’s okay, Carl. Harry saw you two go home together that night but he didn’t want to tell me. But he told me three weeks ago.” I was surprised that Jay wasn’t punching me or shouting or packing her bags. She was surprisingly calm for a woman who had just discovered that her husband had had an affair with her sister.

“I… I… I’m going to fucking kill that man!” I growl, getting to my feet.

“Wow.” Jay says, still unbelievably calm.

“Wow?” I wonder.

“Well, if you’re going to kill him for that, what are you going to do when I tell you that I slept with him.”

“You… You what?! When!?”

“Oh… about an hour ago when you were talking to the group of people you despise. I hope you had fun.” She stands up and walks to the bedroom. I stand silently, bewildered and shocked as she walks past me with a suitcase and opens the front door.

And there, waiting for her in the front garden, is Harry.

“Surprise!” He shouts. That smug grin is the last thing I see before the door slams shut.

Surprise!