Debra looked down at the body, his limbs were splayed outwards, his arm bent unnaturally to the right. Her breathing was heavy, but it felt as though she was getting no air. It was ok, he was ok, there was no blood that meant he was fine, didn’t it? She started to lean over to check his pulse, then paused. If she checked his pulse it would make it all real. She’d know then for sure. There were two options, he was alive, or he was dead. Right now though he could be either. She needed to know. She reached out again, her fingers brushing against his warm skin. He was warm, that meant alive didn’t it? She poked and prodded at the flesh on his neck, how did they do it on TV? It seemed so effortless. There was nothing. She snatched her hand back, then took a deep breath, that didn’t mean anything, she might have just missed it. She moved around his body, it didn’t look like he was breathing, but they might just be weak or shallow breaths. She felt along his wrist. Nothing. She took another deep breath, he was dead. What was the next step? She should call someone, but who? What could anyone do. She didn’t know CPR and an ambulance wouldn’t get here in time. She looked back at his neck, something was jutting out in a sickening bulge. If she called the police they’d know what happened and they’d blame her. They’d say she pushed him. She paused. Did she? She couldn’t quite recall.
They had been standing at the top of the stairs arguing, she wasn’t sure what about, either his drinking or that he still didn’t have a job, it was always one or the other. Sometimes both. Normally she would back off, but not today, no today she decided she needed to stand up for herself. He started yelling so she yelled back. Ok, it was childish, but he just wasn’t listening. He had stormed out of their room and she followed. He had turned at the top of the stairs and taken a step towards her, finger jutting outward as he jabbed it at her, again and again, punctuating each word. She slapped his hand away as he poked her painfully in the chest. He had roared something, spittle flying from his lips, facing going red, eyes bulging. Debra was sure she hadn’t looked any better, shrieking back at him. He had turned, then looked back as she shouted something. She moved towards him, her own finger pointing accusingly at him too. He started to turn back, her finger hit him squarely in the chest and down he went. Tumbling over and over again. She couldn’t remember if there was any noise, there should have been noise, but in her mind it was like an old movie, slow motion and silent. He had landed at the bottom of the stairs and after a moment or two she had followed.
If she told the truth, the real total truth they’d blame it on her. Maybe she hadn’t been the direct cause, but she definitely hadn’t helped. Would they be able to tell? Would it have left a bruise? She had a motive. A small voice, just a whisper, but it was right. She did. She had been complaining about him for months, talking about leaving him, about how easier her life would be if he was finally gone. She had even shared her fantasy with one or two people, that one day she’d come home from work and find the place empty, that he’d packed his bags and just left. They’d think she murdered him. She sat down onto the stair case, her legs felt rubbery, weak. What could she do? Her hand covered her stomach, nausea was building. She couldn’t get blamed for this. It wasn’t her fault. She had her whole life ahead of her still. She stood from the stairs. No, it wasn’t her fault. She took a slow, steadying breath then she went into the kitchen.
She’d keep things simple, straight. She had been out the back, having a cigarette, she didn’t want the house to smell of smoke. She came back in and made herself a cup of tea. She had called up to Johnny, asked him if he wanted one too, when he didn’t answer she went into the hall to call up to him, and she’d found him like that. All mangled and broken. Yeah. That was what she would say. Simple, easy to remember. She searched through her bag and found her cigarettes, she grabbed the lighter and stepped outside.
With the first drag she felt her nerves getting calmed a little and by the time she finished she was confident in her plan. She opened the back door and stepped inside, Debra flicked on the kettle. While it boiled she grabbed out a mug and a tea bag, as she filled her own mug with water she called out, “I’m making tea, would you like some?” when there was no answer she moved towards the hall, Debra saw his body, she inhaled deeply and screamed.