Here’s a short story I scribbled, about a couple trying to communicate with each other following a tragic accident.
The Other Side of The Door
It was around mid-November that the telephone started to sound like whining, bawling monster. Becky sat on her chair by the window, hunched in the corner like a wounded cat. Rocking back and forth. Back and forth.
Her eyes fixed on the phone.
The incessant ringing started to grind into her head. Her temple throbbed.
She couldn’t take it anymore. She leapt off her chair, seized the phone and hurled it against the wall. It shattered, fragments of plastic and wire sprinkling onto the worn carpet.
“Leave me alone!” Becky screamed, clamping her hands over her ears.
It wouldn’t stop.
The ringing wouldn’t stop.
Painkillers. Where did Thomas hide those bloody painkillers?
She wrung her hands, pacing around her bedroom. Her eyes locked upon her reflection in the window. The thick white bandage plastered to her left cheek was vexingly visible.
Exposed to all.
Thomas had just about stopped her from smashing every mirror in the house. Now she yearned to smash her fist into the window.
She let her fingers gently run over the bandage, wincing as the smarting pain prickled up again.
Her beautiful face…would it ever be the same again.
She wanted to run. Right out of this house, this town, this city…but where?
Where could she go?
She’d rather be driven to insanity in her own house thanks.
A car crunched up the gravel drive.
He was home.
Becky clutched the door frame with agitated fingers. Her knees shook as she slipped onto the landing.
A key turned in the lock, followed by a hasty shuffle.
“Becky?” His voice calls to her. “Becky are you…awake?”
Becky cleared her throat, injecting some calm into her voice, “I am. You’re home early.” She moved down a few steps.
She heard him laugh, “Yeah well, boss let us go home early this afternoon. Some of the lads are heading down the pub to make the most of it.”
“Oh?” Becky kept her voice light, she tiptoed down a couple more steps. “You didn’t want to go with them?”
She heard him shrug off his jacket. “I wanted to run home to be with my beautiful wife of course.”
There. He’d said it. Her eyes stung. He was mocking her!
“Beautiful? Thomas?” Becky stammered, “Are – are you taking the piss?”
She heard Thomas’s movements still and then he muttered, “Oh shit. Becky I only meant -”
But she was gone. Racing back upstairs, ready to barricade herself in their bedroom if she had to.
She slammed the door and locked it. Sliding to the floor, she brought her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She rested her forehead on her knee caps, listening to the muffling sounds of her husband trying to break into their bedroom.
After a few minutes he gave up. There was nothing but silence. She thought he’d gone, left her alone, like she’d asked him too.
Then she heard someone slip against the door.
“Becky please listen to me.” His voice. It sounded close to hers. Her head lifted. “I know you think your face has changed you. But you’re so wrong. You’re still beautiful to me.”
She snorted, “Don’t be a sod!”
“I’m not! Look, since the accident…you’ve never really wanted to talk. Or get out of the house. And I understand. But look, things may seem bad now. But in a few months we’ll be laughing about this.”
Becky wanted to punch through the wood panelling and strike him. “That’s nice to know what you think! That this is all just some big joke! My face is scarred Thomas! Scarred! Countless times on the operating table and even those plastic surgeons, the specialists, all tell me it’s useless!”
“They never said that!”
“They didn’t have to. It was all there. In their eyes. I could see it. They thought I couldn’t. But ” Becky scrunched her hands into fists. She couldn’t bear the looks of pity. She saw it swimming in everyone’s eyes. Her mother’s, her friends, even her own husband. And that’s the part she couldn’t bear. She could handle everyone else’s pity.
But not Thomas’s.
“Your Mum’s been calling.” Thomas said with some hesitation, “She said you didn’t answer and then called me at work.”
Becky scoffed, “Yeah. What a coincidence. My Mummy calls when your boss lets you all go home for the afternoon, even though he hasn’t done that once in the eight years you’ve been working there.”
She heard him sigh. “He said I could take some time off. It’s okay I haven’t been fired or anything like that!” He added quickly, sensing her thoughts. “But he knows things have been…difficult…since the accident.”
That was another thing she couldn’t bear. All of Thomas’s mates, his boss, all knowing about the accident. They were probably talking about what a reckless driver she was and how much she deserved to suffer because of it.
She used to be so popular among his work parties. All the lads used to flock to her like bees to a rose. No such chance of that now.
“Please let me in.” Thomas begged, “Bex please! I’m kneeling on the floor, my knees are killing me!”
Becky felt a smile tug at her lips. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled properly. Before the accident of course. But nothing since.
She slowly climbed to her feet and unlocked their bedroom door. He was indeed, kneeling on the floor so he could be level with her. He gazed up, looking slightly bashful. Becky reached her hand down and helped him to his feet. Thomas tried to slip his arms around her waist but she swiftly shrugged out of his embrace.
“I’m going to make a cup of tea.” She said, wiping away the stray tears. “Want one?”
Thomas sighed. “Sure.”
Becky trudged downstairs, wrapping her cardigan around her body, protecting herself from the chilly hallway.
She shuffled into the kitchen and flicked the kettle on.
Then the telephone started up again.