The girl had been reading Gaiman. She closed the book and reached for the wine. A funny thing about women, and to a lesser extent men, is the way the wine they choose is often misrepresented as a metaphor for their personality. This is of course wrong; and the girl was no exception. She was drinking a White from South Africa; it was cold with definite citrus flavours. It had been chosen because it was the only wine in the house, and she didn’t fancy chestnut liqueur or His whisky.
The glass finished, she reached for a refill, then turned the volume up on the stereo. (Why call it a stereo? How often do we hear mono in today’s age of technology – indeed, stereo is so last century, is there a similar term for 7:1 surround sound? Septo?). She didn’t know why she had chosen jazz, she didn’t particularly like jazz, but He had been playing this before he left. Downing the last of the bottle she idly fantasised about smashing the glass into His face, twirling the stem between slim fingers, feeling the blood run down them, hot and metallic. She resisted the urge to smash the vessel – it would mean buying a new glass tomorrow along with the definitely necessary wine, or drinking from a tumbler. Both were anathema. This was the last glass from their wedding gifts, nearly two dozen had been swept in shards from various floors in the five years since they had arrived intact. In a way, this glass represented the thread by which her life now hung. She placed it gently on the coaster.
She picked the book up again, then replaced it. She was too drunk and it was late. Standing, she caught the stranger looking back from the mirror. When had she been crying? She didn’t remember that. Her hair was a mess, as if someone’s fingers had been twisting through it time and time again. Had that been her? She had seen no one else for four days, so it must have been. A scratch ran down a flushed cheek, she slowly remembered catching herself with her bracelet as she wiped rivulets of mascara laden tears away. So she had been crying. The cuff of the shirt she was wearing looked like she had been rubbing soot from the fireplace. Why had she insisted on reapplying her make up – time and again, for four days. She needed a shower, but she could feel her eyelids beginning to close already, another night spent in His shirt, another night in their bed alone. Morning would be here again soon enough and she would have to face the brightness, unless she gave in to the whisky.
The stairs were steep, but climbing them became easier using all four limbs. Halfway up she began to use her knees too. Clutching the thickly painted banister, she pulled herself to her feet, taking a moment to balance and avoid dropping downstairs. She remembered why she had her boots on as she entered the bathroom; carpeted with slivers of mirror as it was, it was no place for bare feet. She had realised this after the first four AM dash to the toilet to empty her stomach of the excess of alcohol. Bloody footprints still led back to the bedroom, their random weaving indicative of her condition. She slowly remembered picking reflective splinters from caked feet the following morning; the wounds that were reopened were perfect metaphor for her feelings, she had almost laughed at that thought, as tributaries of blackened tears dripped to the floor. She could no longer feel the pain though, so she was relatively sure she had extracted all the mirror’s flakes, or the alcohol had numbed it. Either way, as she climbed into bed, fully clothed and booted, she didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything anymore.
‘Nothing,’ she mumbled, as sleep took her. Hadn’t she been reading a book?