Friday, December 19, 2008
Her favourite time of the day. Her husband is still asleep, soaking his pillow with drool. The new neighbours upstairs have not started moving their furniture around, trying to find the perfect spot for their Poang chair. The house is dark, quiet and the heating comes on with a reassuring hum. She makes herself the first coffee of the day and sits down on the battered red sofa, tucking her feet beneath her, letting her mind inhale the silence.
At first, she is not quite sure she even heard anything. She ignores it, but then it comes again. A shrill scream for help. And another. And another. A woman. The word beats against the double glazing repeatedly, begging to be let in.
She cannot move. She knows she should do something. But what? Wake up her husband? Open the doors and look outside? Call the police? What could it be? A mugger? A chain snatcher? Marital discord? A... rapist?
What could she possibly do? The woman outside is getting angry now, as though she knows people are sitting inside their homes on their battered red sofas, sipping cold coffee, pretending like they don't know what to do. Pretending they cannot hear. Her calls for help are longer, coarser, louder. And then her voice breaks. It is tired. Or she knows no one is going to come.
The light comes on. Her husband walks in, rubbing his crusty eyes.
'How long have you been sitting here?'
'I don't know.'
'What were you doing?'