(Also kinda connected to Breathe)
Sheena was just shallow enough to love listening to BBC Radio One and just complex enough to wonder whether the songs were not a little trite. She was half enjoying the pre-orgasmic sounds of Selena Gomez claiming that she could not keep her hands to herself when someone knocked on the door.
Damn – not another bloody salesman with a sense of humour. Fixing ‘Door to Door Sales – Please Don’t Ring’ seemed only to goad them to use their knuckles instead – presumably as an alternative to dragging them along the floor.
She sighed and stomped down the short passage to the door. She really missed not having a window to peer at people from above – an invisible spy. Still, she had a peep-hole, and … the back of someone’s head.
Tall guy, greying gracefully but with hair a bit too long and greasy to look good. ‘Turn around, turn around,’ she thought as she peered at him silently. He wasn’t moving. She scratched lightly on her door – just enough to suggest rats, but not enough to give her away if he turned out to be …
She recognised him immediately, but it took her a moment to reconcile the deep lines in his face with his usually cheerful expression. She unchained and unlocked the door with a rising sense of foreboding.
“Hi, Dad – how are you?” She could hear the smile in her own voice. ‘Stop grinning,’ she thought to herself, ‘this man left you and your mum for …’ For what? She wasn’t sure. Neither of them would talk about it to her. They didn’t even seem to talk to each other about it.
Something in his voice – sorrow, sadness – something else, eclipsed her smile like a dark cloud.
“Dad? What’s wrong? What is it?” Alarm. Panic rising. A sense of …
“Let’s go inside.” A deep, hypnotic tone.
They walked into the living room and sat on the sofa. Sheena’s thoughts cycled through doom, despondency and despair.
“What is it, Dad?”
“Honey, there was a bad storm and Bruce jumped into the sea from the pier and …”
Sheena’s sense of relief was palpable. She’d always loathed that yapping little bundle of wire and spite. Now that it was dead that was one more reason to visit her mum more often. Not that she needed an excuse – they’d always been close, ever since … She realised then that her dad was still speaking and that she’d missed something under the rush of her thoughts.
“Wait, say that again. Mum did what?”
“She jumped in after Bruce to try to save him.”
“So, she …”
Sheena felt the smile fade slowly from her face. Belatedly she realised that her dad hated that mutt more than she did. That he wouldn’t knock on her door just for … That he wouldn’t look so sad just for …
His face – a mask carved from stone. An unbreakable spine – rigid and exact as he perched on the edge of the sofa.
“She’s gone, honey. She …”
Sheena watched his face with appalled fascination. His eye spasmed once and a dark fissure seemed to open from which a single red tear emerged. It rolled down a cheek that seemed to scorch and then splinter. As the tear found his mouth the lips opened like a smoking pit that filled her vision and, as if from another room, a single, piercing shriek began.
It was only after watching, transfixed, for what seemed like an eternity, that Sheena realised that it was her own voice she was hearing.