Knocking. It’s him. I’m behind the sofa quicker than blinking. Harder now. Go away, piss off. Wearing his knuckles out and bothering my doorbell too.
I try to avoid his phonecalls, but can’t keep that up for ever, so once in a while I give in.
“How are you?”
“Fine, all’s well.” I try to sound cheery so he’ll stop bothering me, praying he won’t start in about the moron wife, the garden, his work.
He’s an actuary. Like an axe-murderer but without the thrills.
Few minutes later and…
“They’ve put me on this new project, really fascinating…” Swallowing yawns, I send my mind strolling, a beach or some foreign city, alone, nobody knowing me, while he mewls on. How did it come to this?
Knocking stops. Don’t breathe.
I straighten up, hankering for tea.
Then I hear him.
“Mum?” he’s calling. “Are you there? Mum, it’s me.”
I freeze. Give in now and you’re done for. An hour of torture, his stupid fat face, whining on, and you itching to grab a frying pan and end it all.
Then he’s gone. Birds sing again and I’m towards the kettle.
Sometimes I think about just upping and leaving. Not very nice, eh? There’s probably groups for mothers like me, crying and working out where we went wrong. That’s a laugh.
“I’m not the problem,” I tell the robin on the windowsill, and I sip my tea, For Sale signs dancing in my head.
Tania Hershman is a former science journalist who lives in Jerusalem. She is a founding member of The Fiction Workhouse, and her first collection, The White Road and Other Stories, will be published by Salt Publishing in 2008. Tania is the editor of the recently-launched online publication The Short Review, which reviews short story collections and anthologies.