The birch trees lining the drive were throwing fits in the drenched night. Their writhing limbs excited the security lamps into action and the lawn was doused in a stark, clinical light. Sheets of crashing rain caught and reflected the harsh glare, throwing a haze of static back at the house, through air filled with crackling, wet white-noise.
Alice sat in the large bay window that overlooked the driveway and gardens, a small figure dwarfed by that cavernous shell of glass and wood. She was still and quiet, watching the rain smeared against the window by the relentless wind. Quivering rivers of inky night flowing sideways, like fingers of the storm feeling for a way in. Pulling a cigarette from her lips, she stretched out two smoking fingers to the glass and traced along the water’s course until she reached the edge of the frame. Alice’s hand settled on the latch. The security lamps clicked off and the scene ahead of her was replaced with her own gloomy reflection. She stared into her own eyes, dark circles in dark circles, and then turned the latch, opening the room to the storm. She pulled her legs up onto the sill and, crouching, pressed her face into the liquid wind.
Her hair whipped about her, the rain striking her one cheek while cold fresh streams ran down the other. There was an iron tang to the rain as it crept into her mouth, minerals and ozone on her tongue. Her cigarette, soaked and battered, broke apart, spilling it’s innards. The loose shreds of tobacco crawling down her hand whilst the tatters of paper clung to her fingers.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Alice let her head drop, looking back into the room from under her arm that still gripped the latch. Abe filled the doorway to the hall, lit from behind by a warm yellow glow. She rocked back and, closing the window, she sat, wiping her hand on the sodden cushions beneath her.
“I’m not doing anything,” she replied, “I just wanted to feel the rain, that’s all”
Abe stepped into the room, leaning his over-stuffed suitcase against the door frame with some effort.
“Look, if you don’t want me to go, you just have to ask. You don’t have to act out like this,” his voice dripping with that oh-so-understanding salesman tone.
“I want you to go Abe, I thought I’d been pretty clear?”
She was going to stay calm.
“Well I still think you’re overreacting. Everyone makes mistakes. I just-”
“It wasn’t a mistake,” she interrupted, “not what you did and definitely not me kicking you out.”
She waited to see if he’d argue the point but he just stared. So she carried on.
“You’re a soulless creep, Abe, masquerading as person. But even though you’re a parasite, I don’t hold it against you. It’s on me for not calling you on your bullshit earlier. You were just doing what came naturally, leeching off a healthy host, worming your way into my life. But you got complacent and you got caught and now we’re done. So you can get the fuck out of my house.”
Calm, calm, calm.
Abe’s face attempted an impression of a person with hurt feelings, his head lilting to one side as his eyebrows tried to work out the optimum angle for sympathy. It was like watching a dog try to walk on it’s hind legs.
“That’s unfair Alice. I understand why you’re hurt, I really do. I mean, what I did was shitty but I’m not a bad person. You’re going to regret saying those things once you calm down.”
“Out, Abe. Now.”
“Ok, ok. I’m gone,” he said, picking up the suitcase and turning toward to the door. “I just want you to know that I’m sorry. I mean that. I really didn’t mean to hurt you.”
A hell of a time for a first apology. Did he really think she was going to call his name and forgive all that shit? It was all she could do to not hurl everything in reach at the back of his head as he left the room.
Alice heard the front door close and let out a breath that she hadn’t noticed she’d been holding. She picked out another cigarette, lit it and breathed in one long measured drag. Then let her head drop back, lolling between her shoulder blades.
“Fuck your sorry, Abe,” she whispered to the room in bitter smoke.