Last night Arabella had made her decision. She slipped between the cool sheets and drifted into a fitful, broken sleep.
She woke gasping from a dream. Martha was kissing her. Katy Perry’s song I kissed a girl was playing. Where was she? Arabella shook her head. It was just like Austin to blurt out baseless comments. And just like her to mull them over subconsciously.
When the sun’s rays split through her plantation shutters, Arabella rose ready for the day. She showered and dressed, took extra care with her makeup. She felt serene, happy, in control, in spite of the interrupted night.
Austin was downstairs popping bread into the toaster. She heard the screeching sound of coffee beans in the grinder.
‘Morning, honey,’ she said, placing her arms around his waist and nestling her head into his back.
‘Babe. You good?’
‘Yeah,’ Arabella responded. She realised he hadn’t been in the bed with her through the night. ‘Where’d you sleep?’
‘Thought you might like space to think. Went there for a beer, ‘n just crashed.’
‘Time’s your appointment?’
’10,’ Arabella replied. ‘I’m going to take the day off work. You be home?’
Two hours later, Arabella approached Martha’s office building. Her stride was steady, purposeful; a direct contrast to the nauseating churning inside her belly. She stepped inside the lift, pressed the button for the fifth floor.
Martha’s door was open. Arabella entered, the vanilla aroma almost tangible. She sat on the plush couch and picked up a magazine. Music played softly through an iPod dock. She’d never heard music before. Was this new?
‘Arabella. Good to see you. Come through,’ Martha’s voice was strong, commanding.
‘Hello Martha.’ Arabella’s sense of control wilted like an iris.
Forty-five minutes later, Arabella burst onto the street downstairs. Tears streamed down her face; her hands shook. She leant on the wall of the building, breathless, as if she’d run three blocks. She reached into her bag for her phone.
‘Honey,’ she said when he answered. ‘Can you pick me up?’
Austin arrived in less than twenty minutes. ‘How’d you go?’
‘It was pretty intense. Martha’s so insistent. She has a definite skill to make me see things clearly.’
‘See things her way, you mean?’
‘Hmm,’ Arabella responded. ‘I guess.’ She was silent for a while, thinking of her sessions with her advocate. ‘You want to stop at a cafe for an early lunch?’
She stole a glance at Austin. He was nodding his reply, but his face was ashen, jaw set firm.
‘Honey, it’s over,’ Arabella blurted. Austin took his eyes off the road; the car drifted into the next lane.
‘Austin!’ Arabella screamed.
Austin yanked on the steering wheel; the car careened into oncoming traffic. He pulled the wheel again and the car spun around, clipped the bonnet of a truck in the next lane. The car flipped onto its roof and continued to spin out of control before crashing into a tree on the footpath.
Arabella opened her eyes. She heard a siren. She looked to her right. Austin was stooped over the steering wheel, unconscious, blood in his eyes, hair, cheeks.
‘Oh fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Austin!’ Arabella let out a guttural cry. She held her head in her hands as she sobbed. ‘Not us, Austin. It’s over with Martha!’