by James

They had arrived at the portion of the evening Alison always dreaded. Leanne made that clicking noise in the back of her throat - as though Alison was a horse - and then she turned it into a throaty tiger sound, and this time combined it with the forefinger on her right hand repeatedly conquering the circle she made with the finger and thumb on her left hand. Alison could never lie about these kinds of things – she always found herself turning beetroot and choking over her wine.

Leanne sighed her exasperation. It had been eighteen months, and no amount of yoga or stiff cups of tea were a substitute for what she thought Alison needed. Leanne brightened, and picked up her phone.

‘You can borrow one of my young men,’ she said. ‘How about…Robbie? Thick as a plank, love him, but I never give him the chance to talk.’ She grinned lustfully. ‘These young lads, so quick off the mark, but that makes them so eager to please. What do you think?’

Alison inspected the picture, and tried not to look revolted. Yet another one of Leanne’s boy toys, and this one with the hairless torso plastic baby look done to perfection. She shook her head, and with a rueful smile, said, ‘The kind of itch I have, not even that could touch it.’

Her way home went the same as most days - out of her way to drive past the house that she and her ex had picked out. The perfect house on the perfect street running in a gentle slope down to the canal. Memories of childhood narrowboat holidays had given Alison a twenty-year dream of opening her bedroom window to the sight of barges slipping silently past. It had to be irony, that now he was shacked up with the bloody estate agent who found them the perfect house.

Alison’s heart fluttered as she sighted the upstairs windows of their perfect house. Her whole stomach flipped upside down and nearly jumped up her throat when she saw his BMW. It had finally happened, after eighteen months of driving past every other night. Alison parked her car in front of the BMW. She switched the engine off and then set there, hands still gripping the steering wheel.

Could she really do it?

There was no time to waste, because at any moment another car could pull up in front of hers. Resolve rose within. They had bought the sodding car together, but when he walked out suddenly it was his car. Alison slipped from her seat. She kept herself hunkered low as she walked back up the slope, unable to stop herself smirking. When was the last time he’d moaned that she still had the spare set of keys? She unlocked the BMW and slipped inside. No time to lose. She freed the handbrake, and stifled the squeal of exhilaration as the car rolled slowly forward, and then stopped, bumper to bumper with her own car in front.

She pressed the lock button on the fob three times to be sure, and then paused for a moment back behind the wheel of her own car. Below, the gentle slope of the hill swept invitingly down to the canal.