TO LET by Carla Kovach
Wednesday the 3rd July 1991
Today was a day I’ll never forget. At school I had history and maths, then PE. I hate PE even though I’m good at it. It’s embarrassing; I’m less developed than the others. Then there’s Louise, the girl who makes my life a misery.
This morning she spent half of maths throwing bits of paper at me. The others laughed and joined in. Bunch of loser bitches! I then spent half of first break pulling the chewing gum from my hair that Louise placed there during History. I knew they’d done something to me when I heard them whispering. As soon as we’d been dismissed, the howls and shrieks spilled out, like magma being forced from an erupting volcano. My cheeks burned red and my heart pounded.
Thirty pairs of eyes stared in my direction. Fingers pointed and laughter rang through my ears. I allowed them to stare me down. Eventually they went away but that was no consolation.
After they’d left the room my anger welled. I wanted to follow her and hit out at her, but I didn’t. She was tougher in her gang than I was alone, and to my detriment she was always with them. If I took her on in the open I’d definitely lose, then my hell life would become even more hellish. I knew at that moment, I had to get her alone and it had to be soon.
In my own little world I imagine hurting and humiliating them one day, except I’d like to do worse things to them. There’d be no paper throwing or chewing gum pranks when I got revenge.
I ignored their sniggers and stared ahead. Control of my emotions was the only thing that would see me through.
Passing the hall I watched them dropping notes through the slats in each others lockers. The only messages I’d receive were the ones with ‘that’ name on them. I can’t say it. I think it loudly and I tremble.
Glen drew a picture of a hairy penis and posted it into Louise’s locker as his friends laughed. For some unknown reason I laughed too.
I gazed out of the window, sandbags lined up against the out-buildings. I don’t mind the rain, it feels clean. Rain cleans up dirt.
I turned as I heard Louise’s sidekick Jane, whining to Mrs Higgins that she’d been sick. She was told to go to Reception. I followed her as she clutched her stomach with one hand and held her school bag in the other. She stopped outside the toilets. I kept back and watched. Rubbing her eyes, she continued walking to Reception.
I heard her asking the Receptionist to call her dad. “I feel so sick please ask him to hurry up,” I heard her say as she took a cardboard vomit bowl from the woman.
From behind the open door, I observed her reflection in the full length windows. Rain slammed against the double doors before meandering along the path and finally resting in a pool on top of the drain. I knew that today was the day. I’d waited a long time and prepared myself in all ways possible.
Shaking, I ran through the plan in my head. I’d spent time sitting at the same table in class as Jane. Her letters were curvy. Instead of dotting the I’s she’d draw mini hearts and she always doodled a little flower for a full stop.
Jane was already fourteen like me. She had long blond hair, a perfect figure and she’d had boyfriends. Boys are so shallow. In my opinion, she’s nothing when you look beyond the cover. Everyone in the school gossiped and speculated as to whether she’d slept with a boy. This is where my plan stemmed from.
I left Reception and ran to the Library; I had a letter to write.
Finally, I held the letter up and smiled. No-one would guess that it wasn’t Jane’s writing. I put ten pence in the photocopy machine and took a copy of the letter before posting the original in Louise’s locker. The copy would help me update my diary when I got home. Just in case I never got the original back, I read it again.
Hi Lou Lou,
I don’t know whether you’ve heard but I’ve had to go home sick. I felt awful this morning and I don’t think all that running in PE helped. Anyway, I really need to talk to you. You know I’ve been sick a lot lately and well you know I’ve been seeing Aaron, I’m in a bit of a mess. I really need someone to talk to and you’re my bestest friend in the whole world. I’m so scared Lou Lou, I’m scared I might be pregnant.
Promise me you won’t tell anyone that I’ve sent you this note, and whatever you do, please don’t show it to any of our friends because if my dad finds out, he’ll kill me and I mean kill!
Say nothing at all, just please, please, meet me tonight. I have family around this evening and they won’t be leaving until about nine. I can sneak out, can you sneak out and meet me by the old well? The one where we hung out a lot last summer. It’s the only place I feel as though I can get some privacy and you live close to it. I’ll be there at nine thirty tonight. Don’t call me at home, my dad has banned me from phone calls because I let Aaron in when he was out, he came back early and caught him in the house.
Love you lots.
Don’t leave me alone in the dark tonight. I know I can depend on you.
See you later.
Your bestest friend Jayney.
PS: Bring the note, I can’t risk your Mum seeing it and telling my Dad.
Love you BF xxxxxx
About eight that evening my parents went out, they were always out. Tonight’s ‘out’ was some dinner party with friends. I watched them from my bedroom window. They ran towards the car, huddling under my dad’s golf umbrella. He closed my mother’s door, threw the umbrella onto the back seat and drove off. I wanted to use that umbrella, damn.
I gazed at the drains on the road, dirty water bubbled over the lids. Putting on my navy mac, I grabbed one of my dad’s golf clubs and shoved it into a bin bag. I wasn’t worried about being seen as the rain had caused the sky to darken. I’d barely be visible and besides, I live in a boring part of town near rural Redditch where nothing much happens.
I strolled out the back gate. From the path I saw my bedroom light shining, it looked like I was in. I heard a whistle. Mr Allen called for his dog. I retreated into the garden and waited until I heard his feet splashing past me, followed closely by his dog’s pattering paws. His back gate creaked, and then it slammed with a bang as the wind caught it.
The golf club stuck out of the bag. Mr Allen would’ve seen it if he’d passed me under the streetlamp that shone outside the gate. I shoved the club inside my mac and rested it against my body.
As I opened the gate, I crept away from my house and along the path that edged Beoley Woods. The street lamps flickered as the wind blew the trees chaotically in front of them. The only companion I had was my shadow. Sometimes it was ahead of me and sometimes it followed me as I walked through the trees, along the nettle lined path. My stomach fluttered. I wasn’t sure if I was excited or nervous, but I knew what I was planning to do had to be done. “She deserves it,” I muttered.
As the rain dripped over my hood and bounced off my nose, I thought back to when I met Louise. When we started high school I liked her. I tried to make friends with her but she soon labelled me a freak when I kept staring at her. I hadn’t realised I was staring, and I hadn’t meant to. I admired the way she looked and her popularity. Why couldn’t she have been happy with me admiring her? Since that moment, she and Jane had picked on me. Jane didn’t want her like I did. If only she’d chosen to be my friend, I wouldn’t be doing this.
Rain dripped off my nose. I remembered the way her light brown hair flowed featherlike over her shoulders, and her hazel eyes. She didn’t have spots like me. What was not to be admired about her? Back then I’d often had the urge to touch her but I always managed to stop myself. Already labelled a freak, I had to contain my feelings. But that was all back then, before she waged war on me.
I was surprised that Jane, Louise and the others met at the well as it was quite creepy; but I suppose that’s the place to go when you want to smoke, drink and get off with boys without being caught by adults. I crossed the road and followed the path past the ‘private’ sign, then I entered the farmland. I skidded on the muddy path before arriving at the oak tree. This was the point where I had to turn off. I’d followed them a few times, hanging back and watching them. They caught me once. One of the gang forced me smoke a cigarette before pushing my choking body to the floor and leaving me in the woods. Another reason to be doing this. Every doubt I had was soon replaced by several justifications.
The muddy path ended and was replaced by a balding, grassy, walk through. I inhaled the air and enjoyed the smell of damp earth.
As I pushed my way through the stingers with my sleeved arm, I eventually reached the clearing. The well was in sight. Rain dripped from my wet hair, down my forehead and into my eyes. Squelching as I trod, I felt dampness spread in my toes. My pumps were ruined. In the distance I could just about see the farm house. One room was lit up and the curtains were closed. The stone well cover leaned against the outer wall of the well. It had been left like that since early spring, when the gang removed it.
Leaning over the well, I heard raindrops echoing as they hit the water. Too dark to see, I lit the torch on my key ring. The water had risen to about three meters from the top, perfect for what I had in mind. A rumble of thunder growled in the distance. A flash of lightning lit up the well. I flinched and gazed around, making sure I was still alone. Pulling the golf club out of the bag, I clasped it, hid behind a tree trunk and waited. I took a deep breath and my stomach fluttered. Eventually I saw a torch flashing in the distance.
“Jayney,” I heard her call. With trembling hands I gripped the golf club and leaned against the tree. This was the moment I’d been waiting for. My heart pounded, I felt the pumping rise up my throat then I swallowed the imagined mass back down. “Jayney,” Louise called before sitting on the wall.
Shaking, I didn’t know if I should quit the plan. I could stay hidden and wait until she went. It wasn’t too late to turn back. As I peeped from behind the tree, I realised how close we were and I watched her.
Lightning flashed and she stared directly at the tree, at me. I stood, fixed to the spot. Not knowing what to say, I stared at her with my mouth open; words refused to escape me. After staring for ages she pulled her hood back over her forehead before she half turned away. Why would she see me then turn away? I heard her mutter something on the line of, ‘Don’t make me wait to long Jayney, it’s too wet and cold to be here.’ She wiped the rain off her face and dried her hands on her jumper. She pulled out a cigarette and used her hand to cup the lighter’s flame. Phew, she hadn’t seen me. She’d been looking in my direction but I’d remained concealed. Lightning flashed. I tensed my body against the tree trunk. Thunder clapped. My heart pounded louder, so loud that I thought she’d hear it. Boom, boom, boom, my heart raced. As I tried to swallow my throat went dry. I needed to cough but held it in, swallowing instead to curb the tickle. I peered around the tree.
Louise stared into the well. I knew while she was facing away the time was right. I crept from behind the tree then towards her. Nausea passed through me as I gripped the golf club and held it above her. Pausing with my mouth ajar, I contemplated what I’d say if she turned. Cigarette smoke clouded around my nose. My stomach turned as I ingested the smoke mixed with her flowery perfume. I had to hurry.
She coughed, I flinched. She sighed and turned. I took one good swing of the club and aimed directly for her head. Thwack! She fell to the ground, knocking the torch to the floor. She lay there conscious but confused. Her soft hair soaked up the mud. I watched as she convulsed. Blood trickled from the cut to her left cheek, and then more blood oozed from her ear. The torch light flickered across her face, then the light beam was interrupted by leaves blowing past. She hyperventilated before looking up and muttering. ‘You? Why?’ I wanted to reply, I wanted to say so much but I couldn’t get into a conversation and start feeling sorry for her. I wanted to see her suffer just like she’d made me suffer.
She grabbed the wall of the well as she pulled herself to a standing position. She limped and staggered from side to side. Her left arm jerked and she yelped. I poised ready to hit her again, but she fell. I rifled through her pockets for the letter. She put her feeble hands up and tried to grab me, I slapped them out of the way.
Luckily she’d done as I asked and brought the letter with her. I had my original back which I placed in my pocket. Smiling, I bent over and lifted her up. After a struggle I eventually managed. I felt sweaty, I hadn’t realised how heavy she’d be. Holding her from behind, I gripped her neck and placed my other arm around her waist for support. She kicked back, striking my shin. I leaned forward and fell onto her, knocking her head on the stone wall of the well. She let out a whimper and cried. Standing, I grabbed her under the arms and lifted her up. My arms trembled with her weight. Now weaker, I struggled to position her feet over the wall. Shaking, I took a step back and dropped her limp legs through the opening. She kicked the inner wall and grabbed me as she screamed. “Help me.” I smiled; I knew there was no-one around to help.
As I dropped her she grabbed the rim, clinging to the ridges by her fingers. I watched her and laughed. Who’s sorry now? I thought.
“Help me up, you can’t do this to me, please,” she cried. I whacked her right hand with the golf club. Crunch, I heard the delicate bones in her fingers break. She screamed and fell with a splash into the water below.
I heard her splashing but it was too dark for me to see. Picking up her torch, I flashed the light downwards. She’d disappeared into the black abyss below. I sighed and welcomed the rain as it cleaned me. Cleaning my mac, my hands and my conscience.
Splash. I gazed down and flashed the torch into the well. Louise had thrust herself to the surface of the water. Flapping her arms, she inhaled with urgency. I heard her gurgling and choking on the mucky water. Sitting beside the well, I listened; waiting for silence as the rain cleaned me up and the well took her life. Damn, I’d broken a nail. I pulled at the nail and flinched as it nicked the corner of my thumb, then I placed it in my pocket.
A few minutes passed and I could still hear her struggling. I flashed the torch down the well. “Help,” she shouted. I could see that she’d managed to claw her way up the ridges of the well; she was only about a meter from the top. I cursed myself. I’d underestimated two things; how strong she was and how great her will to live was.
I grabbed the golf club. Holding the torch in my right hand, I shone it downwards. With the other hand, I tried to hit her again. My trembling hands missed. She shouted, first insults then pleas. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed. Ignoring her I tried again. This time I heard a cracking thud. I held onto the golf club and stared. I’d hit the crown of her head. Her frail body fell into the water.
For the last time, she stared up at me with her mascara smudged eyes. She breathed in occasional short gasps and her shaking stopped. As her eyes glazed over she allowed the cold water to take her. Her body rolled until she was face down, then her hair spread over the water’s surface. I’d completed my mission, now I had to go home and clean up. I continued to watch her just in case she was still alive. Several minutes passed and she didn’t move. A sweep of nausea and giddiness came over me and I dry heaved. Taking several deep breaths, I forced the sickness away. I picked up the golf club, turned the torch off, put both items in my bag and left.
Pitch blackness surrounded me. I shivered.
I heard night creatures rustling on twigs in the bushes. Surrounding me with darkness, they enveloped me in their evil. I started walking but the night was closing in on me so I ran. As I hopped over the undergrowth, I got caught in a mass of stingers. They wrapped their spiny shoots around my leg. I tensed as I heard the creatures catching up with me. The rain masked their noise. Rain was now my enemy as it concealed the sound of their approach.
Thunder clapped and my senses gave way to my sense of logic. Lightning flashed. I threw the bag to the floor and wrestled with the stingers. I tugged hard. They burned my fingers and palms but I ignored the sting. As their grip loosened, I dragged my aching leg from the entangled mass and stumbled as I tried to stand. Face down on the ground; I pushed myself back up with both hands. Lightning struck again and a slow rumble brewed above. I grabbed the bag and ran from the night, from my fear, fast out of the woods, and back onto the path home. The claps of thunder increased and the lightning created images of things that weren’t real all around me.
I almost tripped over the garden step as I ran through the back gate. Slamming it, I thrust my back against the gate and slid down the wood onto the soaking path. I was home, I’d made it. I looked up, the house was exactly as I left it.
It was just gone eleven when I let myself in through the back door. There was no time to stop as my parents were due back any time.
I ran upstairs, closed the curtains and scrubbed Dad’s golf club in the bath. The blood and hair came off surprisingly easy. I watched as the bloody water turned clear before I took the golf club out of the bath. I cleaned the bath and placed the club back into the golf bag. A car rolled up. With a pounding heart, I ran to the front window and looked out. The car passed and turned off into the next cul-de-sac.
Sprinting to the kitchen, I grabbed my water logged pumps from the floor and placed them in a carrier bag, along with the bloodied cleaning cloth and Louise’s torch. I put them straight in the bin outside, burying them under several other bags. The bin smell wafted up, I moved my head away from the decaying scent. Tomorrow was bin day. All would be disposed of then.
Falling up the stairs, I ran into my bedroom and got my diary out. I removed the photocopied letter and replaced it with the original. Quick window check; they still weren’t back. I ran back down, got my mothers ashtray and a lighter from the draw by the cooker. I placed the photocopy into the ashtray before setting it alight. I watched the flames creep up the piece of paper, gently consuming the little hearts and flowers as it passed through the whole sheet before landing as ash. Once the ash cooled, I tipped it into the kitchen bin. That was the last of the evidence destroyed. The smell lingered, I grabbed my father’s newspaper and waved it around the kitchen. The smoke alarm went off.
The living room window lit up. They were back. I waved and waved, the alarm continued. The lock turned and my parents ran into the kitchen.
“Are you alright? What’s happened?” My mother shouted. I didn’t reply. My father opened the door, took the paper off me and continued to fan the alarm. It stopped and they both stared at me, then they stared at the empty ashtray on the worktop. “Get to bed,” she yelled as she slapped me across the head. “We’ll talk about this in the morning.” I scurried off and heard them arguing about the fact that I’d been smoking. I smiled, if only they knew.
You may ask how I feel. Have you ever had a dream where you’ve done something really bad? Something you can never go back on, where all the apologies in the world would never be enough, then you wake up and realise it’s okay because you never really did it. It felt like that. The only difference is, it wasn’t a dream, it was real. On waking from my dreams I’m normally relieved that they weren’t real, but now I feel elated, almost liberated. Do I regret it? No. People talk about guilt and remorse but I don’t feel any at all.
While my memories were fresh, I opened my diary out and recorded all the events of the day; then I slotted my original copy of the note to Louise next to my journal entry. I remembered to write down my other achievements. ‘I got two A’s today, one in English and one in History. The teachers are really pleased with me.’
Sunday July 3rd 2011
After receiving four paper cuts and bending a fingernail backwards, my arm got lost in the crevices of the heavy box. I delved to the bottom. As I pushed my squashed hand down I grabbed the spine of the last book. My persistence had paid off. Holding the notebook in front of me, I noticed that it had faded to a blue grey wash. The musty smell took me back to the moment. The smell had never gone, not like the colour and the quality. I inhaled and savoured the memory.
Tonight was the anniversary where I’d remember the day that made me a better person. Red wine swirled in the glass as I poured. I took a sip and opened the page, ready to toast the moment.
Holding the diary open, I continued to relive that day and feel the humiliation I’d suffered. It wasn’t just Louise, it was Jane, Olivia and sometimes Aaron, but Louise was the worst. She’d start it all off, then they’d all join in with the name calling, prodding and face pulling.
The third of July 1991 was the day I got my revenge, the day I took out the ring leader. Smiling, I pictured the events as if they were a film running in order. Wine never tasted so good than when accompanied by some exquisite reading.
Even back then I’d always had a plan. Smiling with pride at my attention to detail, I took a moment to be grateful that school kids didn’t have mobile phones back then. Writing letters had done the trick for me.
I handled the frail diary with care, after all it was the only primary research into the research of me, my story. I never cease to amaze myself. Ploughing through the content reminded me of the weaker child I started out as. I can now compare my young self to the adult who now tightly rules my world, where rejection isn’t an option.
I shuddered as wine drizzled down my leg. Being so engrossed in my diary, I’d allowed my glass to tilt. As I wiped the dribble with my sleeve, I smiled. I’d learnt so much about people from that experience. People are cruel, and cruel people who dismiss the feelings of others should be punished and that’s all I did. I punished her for her cruelty to others and to me. I closed the diary and filed it back into the box labelled Diaries 1991, then placed it on top of the other boxes in the recess. It was time to deal with the others but which one would take the bait? Would any of them take the bait?
Facebook had become a blessing for tracking them down.
Admiring the gallery wall, I climbed the stairs and closed the cupboard door that led to the cellar. I turned the living room light off and locked up to go home.
Monday the 9th January 2012
Libby arrived at Grover Close for nine as agreed. She watched her new landlord pulling the ‘To Let’ sign from the front garden. The sign eased out and left a hole where it once stood. He threw it to the floor then kicked it against the dwarf wall. As he leaned on the wall, he blew into his hands then rubbed them together. Libby stopped and undid the top button of her red winter coat. As she steadied Reuben in his basket, she coughed. The man turned, almost stumbling as he stood. She removed her woollen hat, ruffled her fingers through her flattened blond hair and took a step closer to the man.
“Mr. Simmons?” She said as she held her hand out.
“Call me Tim. Nice to finally have you move in Miss Worthington,” he replied as he shook her hand.
“Libby, please call me Libby.”
“Libby, lovely name,” he said as he gazed at her. Unsure of how to take his compliment, she looked down and smiled. He seemed quite sweet. She liked him when he’d shown her around the flat two weeks earlier. He was a small but stocky man, about five five she guessed. He looked close to her own age. His short back and sided brown hair complimented his hazel eyes. He looked away, embarrassed by her embarrassment. His head jerked to the right. She remembered that he had a slight but noticeable nervous twitch, but he also had a familiarity and warmth about him. The move was exactly what she needed following the trauma of what would be an unpleasant break up now that Gary had found out.
“Anyway,” said the man breaking the silence. “Let me show you to your new flat. I’ve cleaned it all up, carpets have been steamed, windows cleaned, so it’ll be all nice and fresh for you. Here, let me take your cat.” Libby passed him the basket containing the chubby, ginger, cat. Although Reuben seemed light when he’d slept on her lap, she realised he was quite a lump after carrying him for twenty minutes from the train station. Tim held the cat up to his face, the cat purred. “Cute cat, what’s it called?”
“Reuben,” she replied.
“Unusual name for a cat.”
“It was a battle of wills between me and my boyfr-” She stopped herself from saying the whole word. “I mean my ex. I wanted to call him Ginger but I picked tails and heads came up, so he’s called Reuben. The name’s grown on me though,” she replied as she continued making small talk. Tim unlocked the front door.
The entrance was exactly as she remembered. The individual post boxes were fixed to the right of the front door. Left of the door hung the sign, ‘Canal House,’ it was probably called that as it was near the fashionably developed canal area. The wide house had a large window either side of the door and the same layout continued upstairs. Libby looked up at her new flat window. Blocking the view of her living room were the old fashioned net curtains that were there when she viewed the property. They weren’t exactly contemporary, but she reminded herself that the rent was cheap. Tim opened the yellow door and she followed him into the entrance hall. This led to two flats, one to her left and one to her right; either side of the staircase. Her flat was upstairs right and she remembered that the landlord lived next to her. “What are the neighbours like?” She asked as she followed him up the stairs.
“Never have any trouble with them. Two young women live in Flat A, underneath me. You’ll probably meet them shortly they’re always coming and going, nice girls, friendly. Flat B is occupied by a man who’s been here years. Hardly ever see him though, he’s always away on business. He shouldn’t give you any bother. You’ve probably got the quietest flat living above him.”
“Sounds good,” she replied. They approached the top of the stairs. Tim handed Reuben back to Libby, then he handed her a set of keys from his pocket.
“The silver key is for the main door downstairs, the gold key is for your flat door. I’ll just show you in.” Tim opened the door and led her into her new flat. She inhaled and caught the smell of furniture polish mixed with bleach. The winter sun shone through the kitchen window and reflected off the stainless steel draining board, lighting up the whole room.
A couple of years ago, she’d have been disappointed to live in a flat like this after living in a new build with an en-suite and intercom. The kitchen contained several basket weave cupboards, and a brown wood effect lino covered the floor. The carpet throughout the rest of the flat was a beige cord. The magnolia walls didn’t clash with the navy blue sofa. She’d come away from her relationship with nothing to her name. Even though the décor wasn’t to her taste, she was grateful that the flat was furnished. With a rug, a couple of throws and some modern prints, she knew she’d get the interior to a standard she could live with.
The bathroom suite was white and the walls were completely tiled; the bedroom contained a double bed. As promised, Tim had left a new mattress on the bed base.
Libby placed Reuben’s basket on the floor. The cat meowed, begging to leave the confines of his basket. Ignoring his whining, she gazed at the back yard out of the bedroom window. The yard was about fifteen feet long and was covered in grey slabs; a couple of bins leaned against the fence. A dusting of snow covered the top of the fence. Beneath her window was a flat roof belonging to the extended flat below. She opened the sash window and looked down, it was perfect for Reuben to use once he’d settled in. Tim came into the bedroom. “Is everything alright with the place?”
“Yes it’s great. I’m sure we’ll settle in fine,” she replied. She looked up at Tim; there was something familiar about him. “Are you from round here?”
“Yes, lived round this way most of my life,” he replied with a slight smile.
“Where are you from?”
“Redditch, originally.” Libby replied.
“Ah Redditch! Been there shopping. Is that where you’ve moved from?”
“No, I’ve just moved from Five Ways, I’ve lived and worked in Birmingham for four years now.”
“Yes I remember, didn’t you state on your application form that you work on the main street coming up from the station?” He asked as he jerked his head to the right.
“Yes, Victoris Recruitment, I’m a consultant there. It’s great though. Now I live here I can walk to work instead of taking the bus.” Libby smiled and looked away, hoping that he’d leave.
“I walk down there most days, we’ve probably met a few times already without knowing it,” he replied. “Anyway, I’ll leave you to settle in, work to do and all that,” he said with a smile as he walked towards the door. “Bin day is Wednesdays. Your bin is next to the front door. I know you ladies don’t like to drag your bins all the way round so you can leave it there.” Libby smiled at his thoughtfulness. “Oh, and your heating switch and thermostat are both in the bathroom cupboard. I put it on for an hour this morning to warm the place up a bit. You may want to switch it on again, we’re heading for a bit of a freeze this week,” he said as he left.
Reuben’s whining filled the room and he started to scratch his basket. “Okay, I’m going to let you out,” she said as she bent down and undid the buckle on the basket. The cat squeezed out before Libby had fully opened the door, then he rubbed the side of his body against her leg. As he purred, he started rubbing his head against her other leg. She knew he was ready for his breakfast but she’d avoided feeding him anything. She had to wait until the van arrived with her belongings and most importantly, Reuben’s litter tray. The van was due at ten, it would arrive any minute. “Sorry Reuben,” she said as she picked the cat up and placed him head first into the basket, “I can’t have you escaping while we’re emptying the van.” The cat pushed backwards to avoid being locked back in. Libby nudged him in and slammed the door shut before he could escape; once again, the cat whined.
Libby leaned on the edge of the plastic covered mattress before falling onto the bed and lying back. Thoughts of her new future swirled around her head. As she opened her eyes, she’d noticed her sleeve had ridden up. She stared at the cut on her arm. Her face flushed as she pulled the sleeve down, closed her eyes and thought about what she’d done. She’d never had to cope alone before. With a pounding heart, the warmth spread across her neck and chest. The plastic covering crackled in her ear, she turned her head to escape the noise. Bang, bang, the pounding continued. She jerked up and gasped for air. Breathe she thought, as she tuned into Reuben’s whines. A deep breath in for a whine and a slow breath out for a whine. Once again, she was in control.
The doorbell rang. She went to reach next to the door for the intercom button before remembering that her new flat wasn’t equipped with one. She ran down to the main door. The ‘man with the van’ she’d hired was standing next to his mate, carrying a couple of boxes.
“Shall we bring ’em straight up?” the thin man, wearing the all-in-one overall asked in a dense Birmingham accent.
“Yes please, follow me. It’s just upstairs,” Libby replied as she led the way.
“They all seem to be upstairs lately. Be glad to retire,” said his mate who was much older. “Doing my bleeding back in.”
“Can I help?” asked Libby.
“No you can’t,” replied the man in the overall. “He’s always whinging. Come on Dad, just get on with it.”
“No rest for the wicked,” he replied, with a grin.
Fifteen minutes later they’d stacked Libby’s boxes in the living room. As she said goodbye she tipped the men a ten pound note. She spotted the box marked Reuben and smiled. Considering she’d been up most of the night packing, she was pleased with how organised her belongings looked. Yawning, she opened the box and pulled out the cat litter, tray and cat food. She unbuckled Reuben’s basket. He wandered around the flat exploring his new environment. “We’re going to be very happy here Puss,” she said as she lifted him up and cuddled him. She carried him to the kitchen and put him on the floor. As she opened the sachet of cat food and poured it out, Reuben whined as he wrapped himself around her legs. She rubbed her eyes, all she wanted to do was sit down and rest. She left Reuben to eat and got herself comfortable on the sofa.
She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the area. Cars passed by, a child shouted then her door knocked. She opened her eyes and got up. As she opened the door, her phone beeped with a text.
“I’m popping out to the shops, can I get you anything? Do you need milk or bread?” Tim asked.
“No, I’m fine thanks, got to pop out myself in a bit. Thanks for offering though.” Tim nodded, and then continued down the stairs. He looked back at her and smiled as he reached the midway point.
As she closed the door she thought about her sister, Olly. She’d call her later and thank her for helping her to get the flat. Libby walked back to the living room and started to unpack her clothes and bedding. Her phone beeped again. There were two messages and a missed call, all from Gary. Her heart pounded as she opened her inbox.
The least you can do is answer my texts, how many more do I have to bloody well send? I’ve said I’m sorry. What more do you want? You were never there, you know you weren’t, I’m not the only one to blame here. I can play games too you know. You don’t have to be such a cow about things – it wasn’t all my fault! G
She deleted the texts. How many more would he send? Which bit of ‘it’s over’ didn’t he get? She never wanted to see Gary again. It was his fault. If he hadn’t cheated they’d still be happy. Another message beeped.
You can’t ignore me forever, we have to talk. Remember all the good times we had, the times I made you feel good, all the times I told you I loved you. We can go back to that. Come on babe, I’m desperate for your call. I’ll make it up to you, I promise 😦 G
The difficult thing was she did remember all the good times, but she also knew they were all a big lie that had driven her mad; she’d even doubted her own sanity. He’d taken her to places she didn’t want to revisit, ever.
Once again on Olly’s advice, she deleted the text. He was history. A bit of her felt sorry for him, she’d tried so hard to please him, only to be made a fool of. She’d blamed herself for working long hours. Did he resent her leaving him some weekends when she visited her sister? She’d always given him her full attention when they were together. Where it went wrong she’d never know. All she knew was that it was over. She wished Gary would accept her decision and move on.
As she held her phone she was tempted to call him and apologise for hurting him. He hadn’t expected her to leave so suddenly. After spending the month making plans to leave him, she’d left the note for him to find. She pictured him reading it when he’d arrived home that morning after working the night shift at the hotel. In the letter, she’d laid out all the evidence of his deception. Maybe it was the wrong way to go about it, maybe she should’ve spoken to him properly but she knew she couldn’t. If she did, he’d have given her excuses and she’d have believed him. Cowardly? Probably, but it was the only way she knew how to handle the situation.
Today was the start of a new chapter. She’d been scared and excited for it to happen and now it had happened. She called the one person she could talk to, her big sister Olly.
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FREE if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Psychological thriller ‘To Let’ by Carla Kovach.
Years ago there was a death in the village of Beoley, a teenage girl was found drowned in a well, murdered. No one was ever charged.
After leaving her long term partner, Libby moves into a new apartment in Canal House. To begin with everything seems fine, she is effectively avoiding all communications with her cheating ex Gary. Her new landlord Tim seems pleasant and she regularly pours her heart out to her sister Olly. Soon the cracks begin to widen, her job pressures build to an unmanageable level, Gary is becoming increasingly persistent with his texts and calls and her allusive neighbour Mr Bull is regularly causing disturbances amongst the block. On top of everything, the father of missing woman Bettina who once lived in her flat arrives and seeks her help in finding his daughter.
Slowly, the stresses of her new life begin to perpetuate the darker aspects of her personality. Her depressive side slowly takes over and her delicate state of mind is carefully played by a dark mysterious personality. Can she come out of it with her life and sanity?