At first the ability to exact revenge came as a surprise, but I was determined that she would never be completely free of me. In that I would not stand alone. Everything I had felt since Tamara had divorced me had been compressed into one intense desire: to stand superior over the humiliation. Sometimes it was a bookmark moved a few pages back in the book. Sometimes clothes switched between drawers. Sometimes ornaments moved between rooms. On one occasion it was a loosened pan handle. Another time, a loosened radiator valve. Nothing too dramatic. Just enough on each visit for a sense of unease and disquiet to culminate. That was the idea.
Habits that lingered showed me when I could act. Bins out a day or so before they needed to be. The front gate firmly closed where usually it swung open across the pavement. The table light in the hall on a timer, 9 to 11pm, when otherwise the house stood in darkness, and the rest of the sweeping row of grand Victorian terraces lit up in evening domesticity. The dining room window was my point of entry and exit. It had the original sash which she couldn’t afford to replace, easy to open and close from the outside.
This time, it was a bottle of bleach from the downstairs loo poured into the big pot plant in the bay window in the lounge. It would create a withered spectacle visible from outside and I liked the idea of that. And then I replaced a vase of flowers on the kitchen windowsill – minus their water. More withering. The last drops gurgled in the dark down the plug hole.
Through the dining room window came the sound of the wind catching in the tree that stood on the other side of the garden wall, a sound so familiar, the sound of memory, nights in the golden glow, and the quiet and the stillness, with Tamara.
Once back outside, I stood in the shadows close to the house, making sure I was unobserved. It would be difficult to explain why Alistair Lawrence QC, was creeping around in the undergrowth of his ex-wife’s house. Then I ran across the lawn, intending to leap over the wall on to the path on the other side, and back to where I’d parked the Audi.
I had no idea what I’d run into in the dark. Something hard and metal. The clanging sound reverberated through my skull and I remember the sudden shock of the pain, and falling backwards. When I came round I was lying on a sofa. There was a man staring at me. My head hurt. I didn’t know where I was, although I felt I recognised it. The man also looked familiar. He stood silently by the wall.
I heard someone else enter the room. Footsteps came towards me.
Tamara knelt down beside me. I held her enthralling gaze, the unique gift of her green eyes. She looked triumphant and beautiful.
‘Hello Al, nice suit. Remember Ian?’
Ian. From next door. It began to dawn on me what had happened.
‘He found you. Well, his dog did. You must have encountered the new pergola. Every time I’ve been away. I knew there was something funny going on.’
None of us spoke. My head was throbbing.
The doorbell rang.
‘That was quick.’ She turned to Ian and he left the room. Mockingly she stroked my hair. The touch of her hand passed right through me, a flood of warmth and desire, and the fresh realisation of what was dead and gone. She leant close and whispered, ‘I never imagined you’d be capable of something like this, Al.’
Ian walked back into the room, a sneer on his face. I managed to prop myself up to see the two people who were following him. Then with a slow exhale of breath, I laid back on the sofa and closed my eyes.
‘Alistair Lawrence?’ asked one of the policemen.
Andrew Senior is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Sheffield, UK. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Litro Magazine, The Heartland Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Honest Ulsterman and Abridged. You can see more of his published work at https://andrewseniorwriting.weebly.com/