The lure of a loophole (short story)

The cupboard door in the bathroom opened with its squeak and clunk. At nearly five o’clock in the morning, the noise splintered through the quiet calm of the house.

‘What are you looking for?’ I asked, impatiently, immediately regretting my tone. The door squeaked and clunked its way closed, then the drawer slid open. I could hear his hands rummaging through the drawer’s contents, moving hairbrushes, deodorant, tampon boxes. He shut the drawer and came into the room, opening a drawer in the chest opposite our bed.

‘What are you looking for, Gerry?’ I repeated. ‘Do you realise what time it is?’

‘Wellacorz I do!’ His eyes flashed towards me. He had a habit of running his words together when he was angry or tired.

‘Alright, sorry.’ I pulled the covers to my chin. I dared not voice my question again. I was still sporting a purple bruise on my thigh and waist from my last question he thought was inappropriate. ‘I don’t want you to wake Tarkyn, that’s all.’

‘Farken Tarkyn, hezalya care ’bout,’ his voice was raised now. Not quite shouting, but I knew that Tarkyn would wake up. He was an early riser anyway, and noises this close to 6.00AM would easily disturb his precious slumber. ‘Doeznamatta. Ya can’t help me. Stupid, ya stupid.’

I simply nodded. It was safer.

Gerry and I had got together nearly nine years ago. We met at a pub, he’d been trawling for women, and me, men. Lizzy, my happily married friend, had come along to be my wing-woman for the night. It was she who had spotted Gerry. He’d kept walking past where we were sitting at the bar in the middle of the open rooftop garden.

‘What about the ranga?’ Lizzy had said, after he’d walked by for the fourth time.

‘A ranga? Ya kidding aren’t you?’ I never saw myself with a redhead. But I had watched with more than a passing interest after that. He eventually came up to us and we chatted. Lizzy went home soon after, back to her love-filled home. I went home with Gerry. I spent the night at his apartment in South Melbourne, and we went to breakfast the next morning in a cafe opposite the markets. It seemed so idyllic; I wanted it to be idyllic. But there was something awry. I couldn’t name it, therefore ignored it. So when he texted the next weekend, we met up again, had sex again. It became easy. On repeat. Before long, I became pregnant. My feeling of Gerry being not quite right was pushed even further down, as the joy of a baby filled my dreams and belly.

Gerry was right when he shouted that Tarkyn was all I cared about. Gerry was an arsehole, as I’d discovered right after the birth of our son. It was the night, hours really, after he was born, the midwives had taken him into the nursery for the night so I could rest. Gerry and I had dinner together, then watched the TV on my bed. He climbed in under the covers and started kissing my ear and neck.

‘Jesus, Gez, I’ve just had a baby. It’s closed for renovations,’ I had said, with a nervous laugh.

‘It’s not closed. Ever. It’s my right,’ he’d snarled, then climbed on top of me. I squeezed my eyes shut as a way of blocking out the pain. It was effective as placing a Band-Aid over an open artery. When he had finished, he slapped me over the face, grinning as he mumbled, ‘Donchya ever try to stop me again, ya bitch.’ To make his point, he’d continued the same routine each of the four nights of my hospital stay. The doctor and midwives all tried to help me, to persuade me not to go home. I should have listened.

Now seven years old, Tarkyn was my joy, my only hope. Over the years, I’d been making plans, saving money, looking for a loophole.

I watched as Gerry searched for his mystery item. This would be the last time he’d put me down, the last time I’d have to look at his face, his red hair, his maniacal grin. He would never hurt me again.

I was ready. It was my time, just me and Tarkyn into the future.



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