Weekend Wind Down – In Extremis

The voice outside changed tack, instead of screaming insults it became smooth and insinuating. “Jenny, Jenny. You know you can’t hide from me. And you know you have to be punished.”
Jenny felt herself wilting as the promise of a life back in his hands, pressed down on her like a pair of clammy claws and pulled every inch of resistance out of her soul. She lay her head on the table and all she could understand was the slow burn of tears leaking from her eyes. Mike bent over her.
“That isn’t happening, Jenny love. My word on it. You just stay there and I’ll send him on his way with a flea in his ear.”
Even in extremis she needed to warn Mike so she forced her voice to work. “Be careful. He’s dangerous.”
“When it comes to your safety, so am I.”
He went out, walking purposefully, and Jenny heard him open the door. She listened
For a moment there was no response.
“I’m looking for my wife.”
“Your what?”
“My…. My ex-wife.”
“Ex isn’t the same as yours.”
Jenny could all but see Graham puffing himself up for attack, and she was rather surprised when he said nothing. She was beginning to hope he would just go away when he spoke again.
“Look. I don’t know who you are but you shouldn’t be taken in by Miss Innocent Jenny. She isn’t what she seems at all…”
Mike broke in and his voice was full of cold contempt.
“If I was you, I’d leave right now. While you can. You are contemptible and I am finding it very hard not to beat you to a pulp.”
The sound of a siren announced the imminent arrival of the police and Jenny rather thought Graham would make a run for it. He didn’t, though, and she could hear the hideously familiar sound of his heavy breathing as he worked himself up into a rage.
“You just tell her from me that she shouldn’t ever sleep soundly, because I will get her. And this time it’ll be her face. I’ll gladly do the time to ruin her like she ruined me. See how you like her when I mark her face…”
He stopped abruptly, making a peculiar whinnying noise instead of further spreading his poison.
“Shut up, you bastard. You might not be afraid of prison, but you should be afraid of me.”
There was silence save for the sound of heavy breathing and then a car stopping in the road. The clump clump of deliberate footsteps sounded on the path and an unfamiliar voice spoke.
“Ah. We’ve been looking for this gentleman. He’s already broken his parole conditions, and now this. He’s just booked himself a taxi straight back to prison. Thanks for finding him.”
“You’re entirely welcome.”
There was the sound of a scuffle.
“Keep still, will you…. Okay. Drop him.”
The high keening noise that was Graham’s reaction to not getting his own way went on for quite a while. Eventually, Jenny could only assume he had been subdued as the noise subsided.
“Okay. On your feet.”
Just as Jenny thought she might be able to breathe again, Graham fired his Parthian shot.
“Just remember if you do get my dear wife into bed, she likes a bit of pain with her pleasure. Comes really hard if you throttle her.”
The sounds from outside became confused then, but Jenny couldn’t compute them anyway. All she could think was that Graham was going to win again with his lies that everyone believed. A few words had poisoned her life and plunged her back into the grey fog of hopelessness. That bright chimera of hope she had been allowing herself to feel at last had been extinguished by the same lie that had driven her from her home. She could barely draw breath for the lancing pain in her chest, and somehow it didn’t seem to matter anyway.
She wasn’t aware of crawling into the corner of the kitchen, but she mush have done so, because when she came to herself there was a pair of denim-clad legs in her eyeline. Mike bent down and put out a hand. At first she cringed away, expecting a blow, or a gesture of repudiation. He did neither thing. Instead he laid that gentle hand on her cheek.
“Oh. Jenny love. Don’t cry so.”
It was only then that Jenny realised she was shaking like a wet kitten, while her whole body was racked by shattering sobs. Looking into his face she saw nothing but caring concern and when he held out his arms she crawled into his embrace like a child in search of comfort.
He stood up with her still in his arms and carried her over to where he could sit down on the floor in a patch of sunshine. Jenny hadn’t known she had so many tears left in her, but it felt like some sort of release to let it all out so she laid her face against the softness of his t-shirt and just cried. He said nothing, and nor did he move except to gently stroke her back.
When the worst of the storm had passed she lifted her face and tried for a smile.
“Sorry Mike.”
He shook his head. “You have nothing to be sorry for. It’s that piece of ordure should be sorry, but I don’t think he is.”
“No. He’s not wired to feel remorse. Even if he gets caught out in wrongdoing, in his mind it’s always somebody else’s fault.”
She moved to get off Mike’s lap and he let her go. When she stood up he uncurled himself from the floor and stood beside her, although he was obviously being careful not to intrude on her personal space. Somehow Jenny didn’t want that, so she walked back into his arms.
Tilting her head, she looked into his worried eyes.
“Thank you. I think I must have been needing that meltdown for a long time, because I actually feel stronger for it.” Then she said the thing that had to be said. “I’ll understand if it’s all too much and you need to step away from me.”
He just wrapped his arms tighter around her. “Not happening, Jenny love. I’m here. And here I’ll stick.” He rubbed his face in her hair. “Do you want to tell me about it?”
“I want to try. How about coffee in the sitting room, where we can sit on the sofa and talk? I think if you cuddle me I can be brave enough to tell you all the things you need to know.”
So it was that they sat cuddled together on Jenny’s big sofa and she said a lot of things she he had never said before.

Jenny is the latest book from Jane Jago

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Start a Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: