As Andrea pelted down the boulevard, sand rubbing the balls of her feet raw, her mind was reeling.
It would be written on Keith’s face again, and the times he had messed up- very minor times indeed, and those which were her own fault, really- would not compare to this fault.
Another man. A lover man.
The chants whistled around her brain; Andrea slung her hands to her ears, but she could not stop them from returning with every hammering foot-beat.
By now, she had reached the interlocking roads, the dirty tarmac bearing no reflection of the moon but of the orange street-lamps of the emerging town-centre.
They have their falseness, like me, Andrea cried inwardly, moral agony and the chill
causing her to quake.
However, it was probably not wise to return to Keith in such a mess, so the lady hired a taxi to take her back, stopping her internal monologue of shame for only a minute whilst she directed the driver.
Inside the cab it felt safer. There was no sharp light to spotlight Andrea’s soul, and the calm that swept over as she reapplied her make-up was eerily pleasant.
“Have you been out on a girl’s night, then?” The driver was trying to make conversation. Andrea tensed at the lie.
“Yeah.” She tried to paint on her smile as she glossed on more lipstick, the part of her that Lucas had taken with him. “It’s my birthday today.” Not that either of them cared.
Birthday… Now the word was synonymous with the warmth of Lucas’ flesh and the taste of the curves in his lips.
“Happy birthday! That’s nice for you. Are you doing anything else later?”
“No…” mumbled Andrea. “Just staying in with my…housemate.”
And they had reached the close in which Keith’s townhouse stood. By that point, Andrea’s panic had escalated to its nagging point once more. The security of the taxi had quickly been replaced by the darkness in the nighttime.
“I’ll drop you off here. I hope it’s not too far. Oh, and happy birthday.”
“Thanks…” Grabbing her little handbag, Andrea vaulted out of the taxi. Flushed still, she handed the driver a £10 note and a smile.
“Keep the change.”
As he drove off, Andrea kept her eyes on the night sky, fresh tears brewing in them. The worry was back; it had crept up on her so suddenly; those words- that word: ‘housemate’- had triggered the guilt again…and it came down on her, an utter weight.
Andrea couldn’t run now. Instead she plodded her way down the street, careful not to cry. Her heart thudded in time more painfully than ever. This was it. He would see it, the look on her face, and know about the night she had spent with another man. In spite of all the fighting Keith, Andrea couldn’t bear it. She was hugging herself simply imagining the look on his face as he saw the truth in her eyes, plain and clear. The closer she walked, the more her head span. Andrea couldn’t shake of that feeling. Anger, pain, jealousy. All of them Keith’s emotions…but her own too. Why would she let him go? How could she?
The front door neared now. Andrea swallowed. So close. She was conscious of her fingers shaking as the latch was slipped undone, and fabled images were sown in her conscience.
Once inside, Andrea paused, waiting for the explosion of hatred. Lovers were supposed to see inside each other’s souls, after all.
Keith looked up at the sound of his front door closing. His eyes, noticing her, looked mud-brown.
“How was it, darling?”
He smiled at Andrea, oblivious.