(Continued from Exciting New Story (p3))
Somewhen, late into the twilight of their romantic attachment, Mark and Sheena sat on the plump sofa, not quite apart, but not quite touching, as they watched David Attenborough talk of snakes below the floor and rats scuttling behind the walls of some place behind the back of civilisation. Sheena glanced sideways at Mark and watched the shadows flickering across his face as she thought of what they had become.
Since that first day at his flat, she’d never quite been able to persuade him to visit his mum – with or without her. There was always some excuse or another. His hair needed cutting, or he had a cold. It throbbed below their affair like a badly filled tooth, painful and irritating in turns. It slipped and dripped into their conversations more and more, like tiny drops of poison into the teapot of life.
On the other hand, her shiny-bright eyes had no difficulty persuading the curly-haired lad behind the counter at the chippy to unveil his smile, which lingered in her mind as she looked thoughtfully at Mark’s teeth munching chips grimly.
When she came to the bottom of the styrofoam tray to find a number scrawled there, along with the words ‘call me’ she artful hid it from Mark with the pretence that she wanted to keep the last of the scraps from him.
“Don’t want you getting fat now, do we?” she called out as the tray swooped away, elegant as a seagull, from the snapping jaws of Mark’s dogged pursuit.
She whirled as he made to chase her with his stabbing fork, and memorised the first four digit of the number. She danced ahead of him on the pavement as he plodded after her, and committed another four to memory. And if she was a little quiet as she scrunched up the container and looked around for a bin, it was because she was repeating the last few numbers carefully in her head.
As she slam-dunked the scrunched up remnants of the meal into the garbage, she knew that she was done with Mark.
She released him from her mind as she dialled the number the next morning. She met Mark the next day and released him from her life a few short hours before she met her new guy for a drink, at the bar just around the corner from the chippy.
He only smelled vaguely of fish and grease, so she was able to cope with it throughout a whole movie at the newly refurbished Odeon, but by the time the she realised that her her stomach was starting to turn at the thought of spending more time in his company, she pulled his number from her memory for the last time and pushed him into her history alongside Mark.
Random shadows pass with purpose-like haste across the screen as the video of life scrolls forward.
One day, Sheena saw Mark out with his mum – their resemblance as clear as lamp light. As she followed their progress from behind a stream of traffic she felt as if she were watching a pantomime.
The princess, falling again under the spell of the evil villain bent on devising her downfall, just as this woman expected the pavement to be as steady as her son’s love for her. But then, as she tripped on the uneven cobbles, Sheena felt something twist inside her when Mark slipped away from his mum’s outstretched arm.
Maybe it was spray from the sea that dropped onto Sheena’s face, or perhaps it was some other liquid that she felt roll down her cheek and slip into her mouth. As she tasted the salt, her heart expanded to meet the realisation that, out of all the players that had trod the boards of her life, he was the one that needed the most help.
(Continues in Exciting New Story (p5))