I am writing in my room, at the desk under the window where I feel most safe. I hide my journal at the bottom of a drawer, underneath photographs and files, or in this bookcase, behind my poetry books. Richard will never look there because he doesn’t trust poetry. He has no aesthetic sense whatsoever, which makes me wonder why he chose me.
The downstairs clock chimes seven and it is nearly dark, but still he is not back. Mrs Hunt is herding her three pointers back up the street after driving them round the fields in their daily joyless circle. I suppose I should get ready for the party, but if I lie on the bed in the twilight I can just make out our neighbour, Peter Hopkirk, moving amongst the rusting vans and cars he keeps in his long rectangular garden. He opens a van door and sits in the driving seat. After a few minutes I hear the door slam and he is heaving at the bonnet, then propping it open and peering down into the engine.
I have watched him many times from this window, in sunshine as well as on dull days like today, though it seems to me that when I think of the village the sky and the buildings are always dark and drear, the bricks dull and wet.
I have this brief time of shadow and silence; but what can I do with it? It is too short a time to make plans or even to make a decision. Somehow all my moments are too short and it is a long time since I made any real decision. Still, this second and this are my own little luxuries. I don’t have to go downstairs yet, and yet… and yet.
Candles flicker in the window of the cottage opposite, where the couple who moved in two months ago are having another sort of evening. He draws the curtains close, enclosing the candlelight. I wish it were me on the sofa waiting for him, a glass of red wine in my hand. A dustbin lid bangs and a fox barks.
Then the gate thuds and the garage door rises with the rumble I dread every evening. Across the landing James and Christopher are thumping among building sets and parts of robots and a barricade of Lego bricks. The reds and yellows are jarring, the bricks never arranged in any way pleasing to the eye. Sometimes I move them around into nicer shapes.
A light flicks on and from downstairs comes the banging of doors and Richard’s voice.
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