She has been cooking all day, steadily filling up the freezer and refrigerator with labelled Tupperware boxes. The grinder whirs loudly, crushing hundreds of individual grains of rice into a submissive idli batter. She has finished vacuuming all the rooms (and behind the sofas), dusted, scrubbed away at the mould clinging to the corners of the shower cubicle and unclogged all the drains of hair – human and canine. She has done the laundry, ironed her husband’s work shirts and packed the children’s gym bags. The sheets have been changed in all the bedrooms and her son’s Geography project sits finished on his table. She stops for a coffee break and watches her usual mid morning chat show. The obese mothers of promiscuous thirteen year old girls are crying in to handkerchiefs and wondering where they went wrong. She is strangely comforted by these scenes, safe in the knowledge that it will never be her sitting on an uncomfortable chair crying to the nation. She looks at the clock and switches off the television. The children will be home from school soon. She makes their tiffin and places the casserole, glasses and jug of juice on the dining table before loading the dishwasher. The dog is sleeping. She fills its bowl with food and another with some water. As she completes each task she ticks it off her mental check list, pleased with herself, with her efficiency. She showers briskly and vigorously, hoping the scrub she uses will slough off all signs of domesticity.
She pauses in the hallway and checks her reflection in the mirror before writing the note out in her rounded handwriting.
Gone out for milk. Don’t know when I’ll be back.
She looks at the note for a moment and wonders whether to sign off. She realises that they will not recognise her handwriting and neatly prints her name at the bottom.
She waits a moment, her tense shoulders relaxing as soon as the three beeps of the dishwasher call out, indicating its job is over. She picks up the small suitcase and steps out the front door.