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Susan Stone Susan Stone
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Pain - Part two

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Pain. Part one

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

The next day Ella wheeled Megan up the hill to the doctor’s surgery.  Doctor Dupree, a quietly spoken French man, was kind and said that he would put her on the waiting list to see a psychologist.  She didn’t think a psychologist could cure her of the physical pain she was enduring but the doctor also gave her a prescription for some anti-depressants which, for the moment, made her feel more optimistic.  It was downhill from the doctor’s to the chemist’s.  She was elated

As Ella walked towards the chemist it started to rain.  She pulled the rain covers over Megan’s push chair fighting a strong wind which quickly blew the rain against her glasses so that the world became blurred and her tweed coat got drenched.  It was real wool and she knew it would probably shrink but nothing could quell her rising optimism.  It was possible that the tablets would work.  

After she’d got her tablets, she headed back past another park which comprised of one steep hill, over looked by big semi-detached houses.  The week before it had been full of noisy people sledging down the hill and making star shapes in the snow at the top.  A couple of snowballs had been thrown at her or at least in her direction.  It had momentarily lifted her spirits to see so many people enjoying themselves, even though the wheels of the pushchair had kept getting stuck in the snow. Now the park was deserted, the verdant grass swept down flat, and the wet shrubs around the perimeter rendered bright green by occasional sunbeams peeping through the clouds.  It was a beautiful sight despite the rain.  Megan was asleep.

Back at the house Ella opened the tablets which turned out to be tiny and pale blue.  She took one and waited.  After ten minutes or so she got a numb feeling in her head although the pain didn’t go away.  She was only supposed to take one a day and, for the moment, she intended to obey the instructions.  She knew she mustn’t drink with them and, because she was feeling so cheerful decided she wouldn’t go to the shop that day.  Instead she set up the ironing board and started to iron a pile of Tom’s shirts while Megan slept.  She hadn’t taken off the rain covers for fear of waking her.  

It was bright as she walked down the hill to the parklater.  On the way she stopped off at the shop and impulsively bought a bottle of vodka before going to the playground.  It was a long time before a swing became vacant.  Ella and Megan simply stood there and waited.  Ella was bone achingly bored whereas Megan seemed content to stand and watch. When Megan finally got a swing she stayed on it for ages as, with aching joints, Ella patiently pushed her, secure in the knowledge that she had half a bottle of vodka in her bag.

That afternoon she drank steadily, trying to stay sober and, as Tom’s return approached, drank 3 or 4 cups of strong coffee.  She poured some vodka into a mug with some orange squash and hid it behind the curtain on the window ledge.  Then she put the rest of the vodka in an empty flask and hid it in the cupboard before putting the empty bottle in the bin outside underneath as much rubbish as possible.  The empty cans were there from the day before.

When she heard Tom’s car reversing on to the drive she steeled herself.  The garage door ground open and a few moments later crashed shut.  Tom’s key turned in the lock.
“Daddy’s home,” she told Megan with fake optimism.

He entered looking fresh and windswept.  Despite everything it was good to have him home: another adult human contact after a long day.  He took off his blue waterproof coat and hung it over the bannister before going into the kitchen.  He found the mug immediately and sniffed at but didn’t say anything.  Then he turned towards the front room.

“We’re splitting the house in two,” he informed her over his shoulder as he went in.  Megan followed him and he door closed behind them.  Ella felt desolate.  He hadn’t even asked her about the farm.

A while later they came out and he started to boil a pan of rice.  He usually ate it with tuna. Ella stayed in the kitchen with them.

“Doctor Dupree is going to get me an appointment with a psychiatrist.  I didn’t go to the farm.  It was so windy,” she said.  Her voice sounded whining and pathetic to her. She wanted to tell him that she had changed her mind about splitting the house, had not expected Megan to follow him in there and had not anticipated what kind of affect it would have on Megan to see them living separate lives in the same house.  God knew it was upsetting enough for her.  “I don’t want to split the house,” she said finally.

“There’s no other choice,” he informed her.

It didn’t seem to matter to him that she was practically sober.  It was too late.  She wanted to cry and plead with him but was in so much pain she couldn’t.  Her life lay in ruins about her.  What was she going to do now?”

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Next: The Bench.