|Elm Hill, Norwich|
Chapter 7 has been uploaded to my website, here.
“I - was - no - bloody - good - in - bed. Do you know what that means?”“Yes, I do, and has it ever occurred to you in your self-pity that it might have been Shirley’s fault? Why do you persist in taking the blame? You shit me to death with your roll-over-and-take-it attitude.”“Well, from what you’ve told me you’re not so wonderful either in the relationship department. Slinking out of - where was it? - Essex? Like a dog with its tail between its legs, and coming up here to hide.” She slapped him vigorously and resoundingly across the face. It felt so good that she did it again. He was too astonished to move. Then he flung out a hand and gripped her wrist painfully. For a moment they stared at each other. And then he began to laugh, bent forward, hand on knee. He laughed so painfully it sounded like crying. She gave a hiccuping gasp, covered her mouth with her hand.“Jesus, Oates, I’m sorry.” She put a tentative hand out to touch his inflamed cheek. Then she, too, began to laugh, and within moments they were hysterical, howling, bent double.Outside in the unlit night, the watcher stood. Behind a veil of beech leaves the watcher stood and saw them silently speaking and moving and gesticulating in the bright frame of the window. Saw her hand come silently up to Oates’s face. A light wind riffled through the leaves and swayed the branches. When the tree was still again, there was no-one there.