Gerald H Thornhill
I know what I’ve got to do and I’m on my way there now. It’s not been an easy decision but it is the right one, I know that. For the first time in my life I am going to do what I should do for the good of everyone. I’ve got this strange empty, sad feeling inside I’ve never had before but I guess that is the consequence of it all.
The blame is entirely mine, no one else’s. Certainly not Maria’s. I blamed her when it happened, of course I did, I was in that kind of mood, but it was just another example of me being irrational. The trouble is after these incidents I can always see how unreasonable I have been but by then it’s too late. Like now. But this time I am determined to get what is rightly deserved.
It’s a lovely day, the sun is out, blue sky, cotton wool clouds and it’s warm. I’ve just turned into the park and the Spring flowers are out and I can hear a mower in the distance and I just caught that lovely aroma of freshly cut grass. It is the kind of day I would normally think of going for a walk with Maria along the Downs, stopping at a pub for lunch and a pint and getting back tired and contented. The weather is so good the thought crosses my mind to abandon this whole idea, but I reject the notion, it would be laid at my feet in the end, anyway, and quite rightly too, so the sooner I do this the better for all concerned. I am determined to do what is right.
I’ve said the blame is mine but some of the responsibility lies with my Mother. I was spoilt. After my Father left she heaped all her love on to me; it could be stifling but I soon learnt how to manipulate her so for most of the time I could have whatever I wanted to have and do whatever I wanted to do. On the rare occasions when the answer was ‘no’ I simply flew into a temper and that quickly brought her round to my point of view, so I grew up always expecting to get my own way, and I usually do.
When I started to get interested in girls things became a litte difficult. My Mother found fault with each one l brought home: She had no manners, she was too flighty, she thought too much of herself, she didn’t know how to dress, she was too possessive – there was always something. It drove me mad.
I’m through the park now and I’ve turned into the High Street. They pedestrianised it a few years ago and I have to say it is much better this way. There are fountains down the centre, plenty of places to sit and people-watch and of course, no traffic fumes. It does tend to get crowded though and you get these women who form groups and stand and gossip, usually right outside one of the shop doorways so you have to push past to get through which draws dirty looks as if it’s you that’s in the wrong.
Things changed when I met Maria. I made it plain to my Mother that I wasn’t going to put up with any of her nonsense this time. I had to threaten her a bit but she got the message.
Maria, beautiful Maria, long black hair down to her waist, wide blue eyes, snub nose, whiter than white teeth. She was witty, good humoured; she had an attractive giggle that would turn into a tinkling laugh. I fell for her.
She fell for me; not so heavily, not so deeply, but I was convinced she would, eventually.
It was wonderful, I was head over heels in love and happy. We would see each other all the time, phone each other, text, email. I had not experienced anything like it before.
At first we took it in turns at the weekends, she would stay at my place then I would stay at hers. But after a while I couldn’t stand the disaproving looks of my Mother in the mornings so most weekends were spent at Maria’s place.
I’m walking past my solicitors office now. The thought strikes me that maybe I should call in and have a word but although I think about it for a couple of minutes I decide not to. There is no point, and anyway, I’m not too sure he is there on Saturday mornings so I walk on. I think about stopping for a coffee but dismiss that idea too. It’s just putting things off. I’ve got to stick to my resolve.
A couple of months ago Maria was sent to Manchester on a Leadership Course. She was away for a fortnight. When she told me about it I was quite perturbed. I flew into a temper. She was going to be away for two weeks? For God’s sake!
She calmed me down as she usually did when I had one of my tantrums. After all, she pointed out, we could phone each other, text and email, and as the course-work was Monday to Friday she could probably get back for the weekend.
It didn’t work out that way. On the Friday I was pretty worked up and excited about seeing her and then in the afternoon she sent a text telling me she wouldn’t be back after all. The Course organisers had arranged a couple of trips. One to the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank and on the Sunday a tour of the Lake District. She would see me on the following Friday or maybe Saturday if she got back late on Friday.
I was really upset, I sent a text back saying, she should forget the trips and come back for the weekend, but she didn’t answer for a while and when she did it was a little bit curt. No, she texted, as she had already told me, arrangements had been made for the weekend and she wanted to join in.
I was so annoyed, dismissing my instruction like that. I tried to ring her but it kept going to voice mail, ‘Not available right now, leave your number I’ll call you back’ – and then that giggle of hers. I was furious. How dare she treat me in such an off-hand way?
I wasn’t being unreasonable, she promised to come back at the weekend and she wasn’t coming. It was a promise broken.
I made the mistake (I realise now) of telling my Mother. She kept mentioning it. Wouldn’t let it go.
‘ You need to get her in hand my lad or she’ll trample all over you.’
‘So, you’ll be on your own this weekend, then? I’ll bet she isn’t.’ And other similar remarks.
It played on my mind so much that by the time the Friday she was due home came round I was really worked up. Her phone had kept going to voice-mail and she had answered my texts, in a desultory way, I thought, claiming she was in a poor signal area. The last text I had was yesterday afternoon telling me the trains were all over the place and she wouldn’t be back until late Friday night and would call me on Saturday morning.
I’ve walked through main shopping area now, pushing past those stupid women who will stand in groups gossiping, with their prams and shopping bags, getting in the way of everyone else, and I’ve walked up the hill and I’m standing here trying to work out exactly what I’m going to say or rather how I’m going to say what I’ve got to say.
After work yesterday I went to the Kings Head, opposite the railway station and sat watching. It must have been about 8.30 pm when I saw her come out of the station entrance. She wasn’t on her own. He was a tall guy, well dressed, looked Asian. They were both laughing, sharing a joke, pulling their wheeled suitcases along the pavement together, chatting away.
I followed them. It took ten minutes to walk to Maria’s flat. They were talking all the time. Maria’s tinkling laugh floating through the Spring evening air. With each step I was getting more and more enraged. She had told me she loved me; she had told me there was no one else.
She was a lying. The two-faced, deceitful bitch.
They stopped outside Maria’s building. He bent down and kissed her, she held him in her arms for a few seconds. They parted. ‘See you on Monday,’ I heard him say.
I was incandescent.
I gave her a little time and then followed her in using the key she had given me. She was in the kitchen filling the kettle. She turned and smiled, her lovely, white teeth smile, as if there was nothing wrong, as if she was glad to see me, as if everything was normal.
A police car has just driven past me, wha-wha-wha-ingdown the hill, blue lights flashing. I’ve turned into the entrance and walked up to the door. I hesitated there for a few seconds but now I’m inside at the reception window. The policewoman looks up, smiling, slides the window back and asks if she can help me.
I want to confess, I tell her and she looks up, startled, but I see Maria’s face just before I snatched the black handled knife out of the wooden block on the countertop. I see her look of horror as I thrust it viciously into her heart. I see her collapsing, the red mist in my head matching the red blood spreading across the floor. © Gerald H Thornhill