Writing

Reading Sundays: THE MARRIED MAN (Part 8) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

“If you think I’m going to let you visit your fancy-piece, you’ve got another think coming.”

“Come on, Beat. Let it go. It’s over.”

“I’ll never let you go. Do you hear me? Never.” Usually when someone tells me ‘never,’ I know they don’t really mean it. But when Beat said it—it’s hard to explain. It’s almost as if her whole body gave meaning to her words. I had the eerie feeling that I was in front of some creature I couldn’t comprehend, like an adder whipping its head forward to bite. My hands shook as I stood there facing her. I didn’t want my voice to shake too, so I waited a moment, telling myself it was ridiculous to be so scared of a woman. After all, I was stronger than her.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Beat,” I said eventually. “Let me out.”

She stood there, glaring, her thin body coiled as tightly as a piece of barbed wire. I relaxed for a minute, then when she released some of that tension, lowering the rolling pin a fraction of an inch, I shoved her hard, knocking her to the floor. Not waiting to see how she was, I left the house, ran down the path, and out into the quiet road as if I had the demons of hell behind me. I slowed, once I realized no-one was following me. Shuddering, I sat down on a bench in a bus-stop, and dropped my pack to the ground. My hands were shaking so badly, I could hardly light up a cigarette. I must have sat there for a good half hour until I calmed down. Then I walked south, into the Surrey countryside, and spent the rest of the night sleeping under a hedgerow.

***

The pages that follow are blank. A new entry begins haphazardly, scrawled halfway down the page:

“I’m forty-one years old and getting married for the first time tomorrow, on Saturday June 21, 1930. At least, that’s what I tell my wife-to-be. I wasn’t thinking of marrying Emmy, until Mother Nature took her course, and now my girl’s in the family way. Though Emmy’s a girl no longer, being over thirty, another reason for being a bit surprised at her condition. [To be continued.]