I Can Change

Entry by: Sirona

22nd July 2016
Willow Drive

Number 1
Scarlett stood, naked but for her pants, eyes screwed tight in terror. She had to look, she knew that. She had to face the consequences for the bad choices that she had made.
The memory came unbidden to play out, again, behind her eyes. A night out with the girls, well lubricated with Prosecco, starters, mains, and desert. Then, catching sight of movement out of the corner of her eye and turning to stare at the woman opposite. Her feet spreading out over the sides of her high heels, the seams stretching on her jeans, the doughy escape of flesh over the waistband, the bingo wings. The fork, loaded with high calorie, high fat, indulgence poised in front of her voracious mouth.
Her own reflection.
The fork, dropped. The clatter of metal on porcelain, the sudden turn of faces to stare at her as she blurted out the question that was borne from realisation, ‘Am I fat?’
The denials, the hugs, the assurances that she was, ‘just cuddly’ and that, ‘men liked a girl with a little meat on their bones.’ The attempts to refute that only reinforced the message. The suggestion of weight watchers, slimming world, 5:2, Raspberry Ketones.
Sucking in a breath, Scarlett opens her eyes and regards the digital display. She’s set it to kilogrammes, a meaningless measure to her; pounds and ounces would be too painful.
Today was the first day of the diet.

Number 2
Christopher waited for the sound of his wife’s car reversing off the drive, then walked to the window and watched her pull out of the street. Guilt was gnawing at his gut, but it was no stronger than the compulsion to see her again.
When he was quite sure his wife wasn’t coming back, Christopher made a brief trip into the loft returning with the aluminium briefcase he had stored up there, concealed behind the cold water tank. Turning the dial to the right combination, he flipped it open, and inhaled the remnants of her perfume, the volatile particles that remained from her last visit.
Carefully he laid out her clothes on the bed; silk stockings, the sort with the line that ran up the back of the leg. Black silk underwear, trimmed with lace, that slid against smooth skin. A crimson ‘bodycon’ dress that hugged her curves, and whispered sweet seductions with every movement.
Oh, the thrill of her!
He undressed quickly, piling his clothes neatly on a chair.
Goodbye, Christopher.
Reaching for the underwear first, savouring the sensation of the silk, the rustle of the lace, the softness of shaved skin. The click of the suspender belt, the whisper of the dress as it slides on, the hiss of the perfume spray.
Applying makeup, styling hair, and finally; the long awaited moment. Tucked in the furthest reaches of their wardrobe, a shoe box. A pair of stiletto’s specially ordered via a discrete mail order package.
The mirror reflects a woman, tall, slender, vulnerable. Beautiful.
Hello, Christine.

Number 3
‘I can’t find my shoes!’
‘Oh, for fucks sake,’ Samantha hissed under her breath.
‘Fuhfuhsuh!’ mimicked her two-year-old.
‘Shit!’ Samantha cursed, the grunted her frustration. The boy was a ninja, always sneaking up on her when she wasn’t looking. ‘Didn’t realise you were there, Jo,’ she ruffled the top of his angelic head, hoping to distract him before he added any more swear words to his ever expanding vocabulary.
‘Shit!’ Jo squeaked, ‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’
Don’t give it the energy, Samantha thought, instead walking briskly into the living room to deal with Jo’s big sister.
‘Your shoes,’ Samantha said, ‘Are by the sink, I had to wash them.’ She bit off the rest of the sentence she wanted to say, ‘because you peed all over the floor and your clothes, again, because you left it too late to go to the toilet, again.’ Instead, she began the systematic search for all the things that Heidi needed to take to school with her. Water bottle, book bag, snack, £1 donation for some charity thing that Samantha had forgotten all about until a kind friend had texted this morning.
A glance at the clock told her that they were going to be late if they didn’t leave right now.
‘Heidi, come on!’ she yelled.
No answer. Samantha strode meaningfully towards the door. She didn’t want to be this Mum, she wanted to be the one who got to school early, who remembered everything, who had time to be on the PTA; not the one who was hurtling into the playground two minutes after the bell, shrieking like a harpy with distressed kids in tow.
The shrill scream of her daughter’s disgust cut through her, forcing Adrenalin through her system, triggering the fight of flight response.
‘What?! What?!’
‘Jo took his nappy off and he put poo on me!’
‘Oh, for FUCKS sake.’

Number 4
Mike opened one eye, tentatively, trying to work out what the source of the ungodly noise was. It was, his eye confirmed, his mobile phone. The display said, ‘Work.’
Coming upright, he smacked his lips against the sour taste of last night’s drinking and reached for a cigarette.
He hit the red button, terminating the call. He needed coffee before he rang work back.
The display on his smart phone told him why work was calling; he’d had an 8:30am meeting with a client. He needed a good excuse for missing that. What had he used already? How many times had his grandmother died?
He ignored the recrimination from the empty whisky bottle on the worktop, pushing it to the back to join its brothers; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…
His phone vibrated angrily again, ‘Work’, and Mike sighed before hitting the green button. He didn’t get an opportunity to make an excuse, his boss’ furious monologue made it unnecessary. Mike hit disconnect as soon as he heard the word ‘fired’.
Mike was furious. Furious with himself for getting into this situation. Again.
He couldn’t go on like this.
Grabbing a cardboard box, he swiped the empty whisky bottles into it and threw them out the front door.
No more. No more nights lost to blackouts, no more days lost to hangovers, no more jobs, friendships, lovers, lost to his addiction.
No more.

Number 5
Serena calmly folded her husband’s shirt and laid it with the others in the suitcase. It was therapeutic, she thought, and only right that she should do this last thing for him.
He had been her everything, for so many years. She had loved him completely, rough and smooth, richer, poorer, sickness, health…all of it. But it was time to face the harsh reality; he was gone, and he wasn’t ever coming back. She would grieve for him for the rest of her life, but he was gone.
Zipping up the holdall, she hefted it and walked awkwardly downstairs. She was still in pain from that fateful night, the bruises were fading, the broken ribs would take a few weeks still. The emotional scars? They would last a lifetime.
Her timing was perfect. The doorbell rang just as she got to the foot of the stairs and saw the familiar shape through the stained glass.
Taking a steadying breath, Serena opened the door and put the holdall down at her husband’s feet.
‘Serena, can we talk.’
‘No.’ She wouldn’t even look at him. He was dead to her now.
‘Serena…please? I love you. That’s why I get so angry. You make me crazy. I was jealous, and I know I had no reason to be. You’re perfect. You’re so beautiful. Please, forgive me.’
Stepping back, Serena reached for the door handle to pull it closed.
‘Serena, please. I can change.’
The door shut, the click sounding unnaturally loud in the silence of the house.
She heard his muffled curse, ‘Bitch!’ and smiled to herself.
He wasn’t the only one who could change.

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