Are you talking to me

by Claire

Teresa felt that at heart she was a psychopathic spree killer. In actuality, she wasn’t a spree killer or a psychopath, but she felt very strongly that she could be given half a chance. She had been walking a line between a socially acceptable life and a righteous bloodfest as long as she could remember.

Theresa’s place in the world was ill defined but not without merit. Her family loved her and she had friends. She held down a job and got on well enough with her colleagues. She was not a loner or an incompetent. She usually looked nice and did well with her slightly lumpen body shape. She was not a virgin and had been engaged once. There was a man she met regularly and had sex with. She never really had arguments, enjoyed a laugh and lived a perfectly acceptable life. This facade was maintained at no small cost. Theresa was a jangle of nerves, hyper-vigilance and self-talk, all required to prevent the violent outburst that beckoned.

Her strategies were well rehearsed. She went most places with her headphones in, listening to music that drowned out the thoughts. She had learned mindful breathing, which she could do without anyone noticing whenever some fool irritated her. Such as at her desk when hearing the patronising tones of her manager’s Kardashianesque vocal fry - “So, this is what we want moving forward Tree..OK lovely?”. Theresa’s bile gorged even at the thought.

But she knew it was a precipice she traversed and that it was getting harder. As she aged she became more bruised by the daily onslaught of irritation and grievance. Once it had been famine and drought that sparked her ire, now it was the way that some people drank from water bottles with their lips around the outside of the neck. She suffered many slights and felt that the time to wash the scum off the streets was nigh. To this end she carried a pair of sharpened nail scissors in her bag.

Today was a difficult day. It was hot and she was sitting on the No 36 bus as it inched its painful way up High Street, fighting against the commuter traffic, the double parking, the bikes and people on those funny little motorised scooters. The girl in front of her was shouting intimate personal details down her phone whilst her baby screamed. The girls long lank hair swung over the back of her seat invading Theresa’s space. She felt like she was staring over the cliff and jumping seemed to be a way of getting free. She could stop her calm breathing, take out her earphones and let the bile out. It would be so easy.

She removed the nail scissors from the front zip of her bag, the cold steel in her hand promising silence and release. With a ninja’s stealth, Theresa picked up a strand of the girl’s hair and snipped it off. It dropped to the floor amongst the dirt and there Theresa left it, attached to a glob of gum. The girl carried on talking unaware, but Theresa knew and sliding the scissors into her bag floated transcendent from the bus into the night.