I moved from the room, leaving him lying in the bed. He didn't hear me tread away, if he did he didn't stir. Before closing the door behind me I took one last look at his sleeping face, tousled in a mop of dark hair. So beautiful. But I did not let that mull in my mind for long. Barely a second really. It takes only that long to close a door.
Even when past the door of his apartment I paced softly down the stairs, and only when on the street in the sunlight did I widen my stride and let my shoes click across the pavement. He always knew that I would be gone when he woke up, I was honest with him. But still I was scared that I would rise his mind before natural encompasses left. He knew what I did these past months. He knew why I left each morning. I was returning home to my husband.
I stepped easily through the manicures streets of my neighbourhood, coming to the home that was like the rest. Perfection my friends would comment when they passed into the house. My husband's friends really. I unlocked the front door, throwing my bag onto the couch. It's messy contents spilled to sprawl across the leather. I nodded, happy with the same amount of imperfection in the room. The grandfather clock was clicking in its little cove off the kitchen. It had been passed from my grandparents and I husband hated its antiquity. But I demanded it remained. So it stood off the kitchen where few looked. But I could always hear it's clicking. It didn't tick, ticking is liveable, knowing that it was doing a purpose. It clicked, incessantly, pointlessly. I hated it ticks, but kept it because I knew my husband hated it too. He would be returning soon. Many nights he worked late into the morn, but such was the work that provided us this life. Yet why had he never invited me the dinners it held? May something slip from my mouth that would bring the arrival of a secret?
I removed my bag and its contents, quickly dressing myself in the silk pyjamas he had just bought me. Yet whenever I asked for anything I wanted he said our budget could not afford it. I wondered where the extra money went.
I heard the door click. I was in the kitchen when he walked in, eggs in one hand, pan in the other. "Scrambled eggs?" I smiled.
For a moment there was a small smile on his face, a sly one almost. But then it disappeared as he eyed the eggs.
"I don't want eggs." He lumbered from the room, pulling at his already loose tie.
I followed him. "Toast? I'm sorry I was going to make bread last night but we had no yeast." I knew he wouldn't look in the cupboard to question it.
"I'm not hungry."
"Oh. A cup of tea then? Anything you want, I can make it?" I was resting in the door frame, eyeing him as he carelessly dropped his tie on the floor. He had become more careless these past months.
"I want you to leave me alone."
I left. He was like that most of these mornings. I moved into the kitchen to scramble some eggs in preparation. The clicking was growing. I walked past the little cove, heard it at its height, decrease again as I walked away.
Twenty minutes later he was walking out into room. "You can't even have any damn breakfast for me. I slave all day and night for you and you can't even do a simple thing like make me breakfast." He was angry, and I could hear it rising.
I mumbled an apology and brashly shoved the eggs onto the toast. "Shall we do something today?" I ventured. "It is a Saturday after all."
"I'm too tired."
I placed myself across from him. The grandfather clock behind me, I was sure he could see it whenever he looked up. I positioned myself closer, hoping to hide the clock from view.
"C'mon John, we haven't done anything for ages. It's a bright Saturday, why don't you go to bed for a while and then we'll go out for a picnic." I smiled, trying to seem my prettiest, my pettiest.
"I said no!" He slammed the fork down on the table. "Can't you just take a simple answer!" Eggs finished, he stormed from the room, leaving my head in my hands.
I thought back to when we had last had a decent conversation. I couldn't remember. Even the rare times we had gone out he held me with a stubborn gaze.
My mind returned to the sleeping man I had left earlier. Everything about him kind, beautiful. I couldn't stay here whilst he was out there. I rose decisively, my mind suddenly made. No more would I live in this household.
My foot slipped on the squeak of the floor and I was tumbling, throwing my hand out to feel it catch against something. I considered my throbbing knee when my flight had ended. It wouldn't be more than a bruise. Small slash announced itself on my hand where it had caught the object that had broken my fall. The grandfather clock. A break in the wood had appeared, and when I looked I found a small handle, signalling where a little compartment had lain hidden all these years. I took my mind back to when I had been given the antique clocks and could recall nothing of this little secret. Cautiously, as if scared someone else would discover this I had just found, I pulled at the little door. My first thought was surprise, then dull as I saw the book that lay there. Of course, a little hidey-hole to keep a book. But then when I leaned further, my mind decreased in interest. The black cover had five letters printed across in gold; BIBLE. My grandparents had been quite the religious kind, but it had never been instilled in me. I remembered the disappointment my grandmother had shown when I told her we weren't being married by a priest. John hated anything to do with it. And then I remembered the conversation she had ruled into me on my wedding day, and the cross that had dangled around her neck.
My mind made up I slipped silently up, dismissing my secrecy as I walked through the lounge. My noise wouldn't matter, either way I could not please him. I walked through the streets that I had passed earlier that day. Out of the perfect streets and as time progressed into the more huskier blocks. And then I reached his block and was up the stairs and through the door and he was staring at me with a bowl of cereal in his hand.
And staring at his beautiful face, I knew I could do this.
A gun shot sounded.
I closed the door behind me, leaving him lying there, dark hair tousled forever. As I paced back through the streets my mind trailed across my past, across my memories, across the world.
Back there to my grandmother and her words driving through me. 'Whatever you do, do not get a divorce, do not defy the Lord that way. Find whatever way you can around it.'
Then sooner, to the countless nights when my husband spent his time at work, yet never invited me anywhere to do with it.
Sooner again, where I saw myself slipping my hands through that tousled hair, and at that moment, I had felt more love than I had ever felt for anyone.
Sooner ever again, my body resting against the floor, a throbbing knee, a cut in the hand. Eyes stared into a little compartment, surprise reigning to see the gun resting over the Bible.
Now, here I was, in the present. Watching a woman walk into my home, to be greeted by a kiss. I would return in an hour.
As I walked away, though I could not see it, I could hear the grandfather clock. Ticking.