Chapter 7 Patterns

Written by: Suraya Dewing

"Well this tells me things are not good for you.”

She sniffed, pushed her hair from her face and offered a wobbly smile. “No, I seem to go from one crisis to the next,” she said.

He sat beside her, balancing on the log with his knees up against his chin. He solemnly nodded. “It all looks pretty grim all right.”

His slightly mocking words set a giggle rising from the pit of her stomach. She spluttered as the laughter burst from her. Smiling, he tilted his head so that his blue eyes met hers.

“Hmm, that’s better, a smile.” 

A gentle breeze played with the leaves above her and a Tui hopped from one branch to another. It stopped and lifted its white feathered throat to issue its trilling song.

When she recovered her composure she told him how her home had become more like a prison because Stephen was always watching her and had taken over all the things she enjoyed, like the television.

He shook his head as if he understood and knew what a problem it was to have an unwelcome visitor never declare when he or she was leaving.

“I don’t know why this has happened. It seems it happens all the time. If it wasn’t him it’d be someone else.” He looked at her quizzically from under bushy white eyebrows.

She followed the outside of a leaf with slender fingers. “Patterns,” he said.

She looked up. “What?”

He gave a knowing smile. “Patterns.”

 She let what he had said sink in. Although she did not understand what he meant, just the fact that he cared was enough to lift her spirits.

A group of carefree students walked by, laughing.

“Well not everybody has problems,” she said.

“They will,” he assured her gravely, “they most definitely will.”

Laughter burst out of her. “Yes, I suppose you're right.”

Her mood felt lighter. She bounced from the root she balanced on and turned to face him. “I better get back to my gloomy house.”

He laughed a loud booming laugh. “Guilt is no reason to have a permanent house guest, you know.”

***

When she got back home she heard the television going and with each step closer she felt herself tensing up. The words coming via a satellite cut through the air. They seemed to invade every cell of her body and screw it into a tight ball.

As she walked into the lounge he looked up, scowling. “Where have you been?”

“I just needed some fresh air,” she told him, injecting a lightness she did not feel into her words. “Has Miranda left?”

“Yes, ages ago,” he snapped and followed immediately with, “What’s for dinner?” His tone tightened her nerves another notch.

Ignoring him she made her way upstairs to her bedroom. When she got to the top she noticed that the wardrobe door was slightly ajar. She stopped, puzzled. She was certain it was shut when she left.

Biting her lower lip, she pulled the door open wider and looked inside. Nothing was gone. Just a few tops overlapped as if someone had run their hands along them. Still puzzling over whether or not she imagined it had changed she made her way back to the kitchen, took out some potatoes and began pensively peeling them.

When she took Stephen’s dinner to him she casually asked if Miranda had gone into her room. He looked taken aback and insulted.

“No, why would she do such a thing?”

Thinking that she imagined it all she left him with his tray and returned to the kitchen where she ate her dinner alone.  The sound of the television drifted over to her. Someone in the story was arguing. Voices rose indignantly with each new sentence mirroring her own mounting resentment.