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Her Greatest Mistake
Author:Sarah Simpson

Her Greatest Mistake by Sarah Simpson



Katie, Amy and Ben. You were my strength to seek change. The blood flowing through my veins. My reason to be. My everything. I couldn’t be more proud of you.

Anth. For making me smile when I thought I was lost. For believing in me, even when I didn’t. For being my scaffold when I was swaying in the wind. For being my light in the dark.

Mom and Dad. Everything I am is because of you. Yet you’ve never asked me for anything.

This is for all of you, from the bottom of my heart. Sometimes words can be inadequate.





And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince.






Prologue


Desperate to escape the seat belt, slicing through my neck. Vulnerability restrains me, despite my being choked by murderous primeval thoughts. Shuddering with each acceleration, gripping tighter with each perilous twist. An outlook flaunting only shades of black, unrelenting rain, mercilessly pummelling its prey.

*

What befitting, magnificent conditions for the occasion. Such power on the outside, yet so calm within. The erratic driving easing my pain, liberating my soul. Laughter rolls upward from my gut, as I see the effect it has on her. Teach the bitch a lesson. For what she has done to me. I offered her a chance. Wretchedness rises and burns. I press my foot harder to the accelerator. To control. While she looks on.

My wife the traitor.

*

Sodden falling leaves and earthly debris obscure the glass, only a subtle cloaking for what lies ahead. I hold my breath, swelling my lungs, soaking up the acrid stench of burning rubber, blistering metal. Sweaty hands slithering on cold leather. I try to plead, please, please, but a chalky dryness strangles each word. My gut retches with the taste of fear.

I hear the windscreen wipers at full assault. Reciting my fate, over and over.

Shallow, rapid panting thrusts my heart at its cage, pushing against the flimsiness of my incongruent T-shirt. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. To you, to them, it isn’t this way. I’m slipping, sliding into a helpless state. Any reasoning defeated by futility. Truth battered to the floor by lies. A cognitive crossfire feeds my mind, pilfering control, shutting down intelligence. Deep into my limbic system I plunge. Always the prisoner. Into the dark, I fall.

I realise now, someone is going to die.





Chapter One


One week after my story…


I open an eye at a time, my head being heavy, stuffed with cotton wool. Bleached, dense fluff smothers any intelligence, any rationale and all of my problem-solving capabilities. I’ve been here before, so many times, this feeling of being unique but not in a good way. These special feelings, mingling with my past confining me to loneliness. We’ve needed to become friends, get used to each other, a sad but expedient relationship. Maybe we can never be separated; our way of being is all too entwined. Even so, an extra convincing tiredness joins us today and I can’t be bothered to fight it. I’m bone-weary from all the belligerence, game-playing and secrecy. Dog-tired of being isolated by the never-ending lies and imprudent perceptions. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

But then, from the outside in, it isn’t this way.

I drag myself up and float across the wooden floors with a need to be close to something, finding myself in Jack’s empty room. Apparently lured to the mobile sitting on his window sill, sneering without a conscience. I pick it up. I still don’t know for sure who was in my home the other day; the day they left something dangling in the air. I’ve kind of accepted this, what a peculiar response. Or is it? I understand it should be, but it doesn’t change the fact; it now feels ordinary. This is in part what has muted me; my world was and is my normal, but to others, if they knew of it, it would be weird and twisted. Being a prisoner of this world for so long, I’m quite the institutionalised. Perhaps I can never live a normal life; for normal now appears alien. Whatever normal is. So, I play at life as I’m unable to live it.

I gently place Jack’s deadly mobile on his chest of drawers and peel back the undisturbed duvet protecting his bed. I climb in, and curl up, wrapping the duvet tightly around me, inhaling his vulnerable scent. If someone was in our home, could this mean there is more to come? That we’ve come full circle? Is someone now looking for the new truth? Or is this still about the same old lies, same old unanswered questions? Or is it just me and it’s all just cotton wool? Isn’t it strange when everything you think you know evaporates? When truths have been held hostage by seeping lies. Then, the moment you realise, it’s never been about what you know, but what you don’t know. The world you perceive isn’t really the world itself, but simply your story of the world, in a twinkling of fragile time.

I let my eyelids fall heavy. Some time ago, people used to refer to us as a broken home. Why? They got it so wrong. It was broken before, not afterwards. When we lived in a broken marriage; broken vows, a relationship drip-fed by abuse. But our home after we’d escaped wasn’t broken. It was new, fragile, other-worldly even as we trod uncertain steps, but not broken.

You were broken, you always were. I was a fool not to notice the fine stitching at first, holding your independent components together. It was too late by the time I did. Part human, part robot, that’s you. Smooth-talking hunter. I feel no comfort in believing I’m not alone with my story. Someone else out there gets cotton wool too, sees the truth as I do. Where context is everything. Hindsight is futile.

I squeeze my eyelids tightly to push away the glimpses of that night, suffocated by vulnerability, the acrid stench of burning rubber. I’m holding my breath again. Sometimes, I’m too afraid to breathe; at times I’ve wished I’d stop. I can still feel my hands sweating, sliding on cold leather. I have solitary moments when I ache to scream, to be heard, but my words jar and still – a chalky dryness strangles me. The tang of bile repulses me. It’s been a while but I can still taste the sourness of fear. I think I always will. I think we both will. Our past being the backbone of all we know.

Sedentary remains, rotting flesh hidden under floorboards but too pungent to ignore.

I watched you that night, how calm you were. Your uncertainty forcing your foot harder to the pedal proffered you some mislaid control, didn’t it? I mean, knowing the effect it was having on me. Your steady upturned lips, fighting back your laughter. Inwardly flying high. Though it was never just about that night, more about the lives you stole. It didn’t happen overnight, but by stealth. Day by day. Year on year.

I tug at the duvet to cover my asphyxiated mind. It wasn’t meant to be this way; I’d intended we’d be free by now. But at the very last minute you stole that too, didn’t you? Now, I fear it’s all too late; for me it is anyway.

Three years ago, I thought I could finally change things. I was wrong.





Chapter Two


Cornwall 2016