Once her husband, who had escaped a hero’s death, died from fury, Trudy’s grandmother married the quiet widower next door. It seemed to the neighbours of that close community, that the two of them had crept home from the Register Office with utilitarian smiles and sprays of heather, only minutes after her husband clutched his chest with one hand and the table cloth with the other. In those last minutes it was the only thing standing in the way of his death, and so he let it go.
There was speculation of course that the affair was going on long before the heart attack occurred, even that they engineered it somehow, but no-one could prove anything . They wondered where she’d have had the opportunity since the brute had eyes in the back of his head.
The truth was simple. As Arthur grieved for his lack of a wife, he had heard the thumps and the bumps and the sobs refracting through his wall; a shard of violet disappointment, a shot of yellow iodine, the green curve of denial with a hint of blood and overarching hopelessness. How could anyone have something so precious and treat it so cruelly?
With little else to do except work, he kept an eye out for his unfortunate neighbour. He’d watch the bastard come back from the pub, fag ash balanced on his lip like a diver lost his nerve. Arthur could hear the singing from the bottom of the street and then the cursing.
The first time she noticed him was when she stood in the front garden with tears and a bruise and a cloth smelling of antiseptic that she had used to bathe the stinging scars of her son.