The evening’s breath bites at my ears and through my coat as I dash along shadowy streets, wishing I’d asked for the car. When I arrive he’s on our bed trembling, shoes still on, body tight as a curl grub. Jeremy’s voice on the phone had been desperate and small – like these hours past midnight.
I lean against the door, gasping. Jeremy unfurls, eyes red-rimmed. Crimson blood streaks across his shirt.
‘What happened, are you all right?’
‘I didn’t know who else to call.’ A cry slips from his throat and his shoulders shake as more escape.
I take his hand — mine cold, its hold loose. He crushes my fingers.
‘Walked from chambers …for a ch..ange….’ He’s almost incoherent and leans against my breasts, his tie across my lap.
In staccato he continues. ‘A car…slammed…into a telegraph pole…thought it was a bomb.’
I jerk my head back at the image, his square jaw and wet face too close.
‘The driver…’ His voice broke. ‘There was blood everywhere so I bolted into a house, grabbed some sheets off a bed—‘
‘A house?’ I ask.
‘The front door was open.’ He wipes his nose with a sleeve, unconscious of the act, and groans. ‘I don’t think she made it.’
I pull at a loose thread in the blanket. ‘The ambulance came?’
He nods, pushing hair from his eyes, and I see the childhood scar at his temple. I hold him, then.
‘Perhaps she did, thanks to you,’ I manage, hoping she’s alive. Thanks to you I have metal screws in my hand.
Jeremy’s tremors lessen and he becomes a dead weight. When I’m sure he’s asleep I begin to disentangle myself.
‘I’m so sorry about everything,’ he whispers in the dark, his arms tightening around me. He reeks of spew and metal – of skin and tears brushed with desperation and shock.
I lie in empty space, my thoughts stripped bare, and force myself not to mould my body to his.