It was Ricky Martin that broke the silence.
Margot had changed the ringtone several months ago. Sandra had never been able to figure out how to change it back, and Margot wasn’t coming back any time soon to show her.
She wished things had turned out differently.
Maybe this would be Margot?
Sandra held the mobile phone to her ear for the third time that hour. She said nothing, she didn’t have to. The caller display was blank. It always was.
She gripped the mobile phone tightly. Her knuckles turned white.
Sandra ended the call and flung the cell phone across the room. The battery disconnected as it clattered to the polished wood flooring. Shards of the display screen skidded away from the point of impact.
She let out a weary sigh. “There’s nothing I can do, Jerry.”
Her heels clicked on the flooring as she fetched the dustpan and brush and then fussed with the floral apron, trying not to mess up her hair. Her balance waivered as she bent down to sweep the debris. The heel of her left foot slid on the freshly polished floor and she toppled sideways, catching her arm on a jagged shard of broken plastic as she landed.
Sandra looked down as the crimson blood dripped from the cut on her arm and spotted on the floor.
She watched in wonder. She was bleeding, but it didn’t hurt, like she would expect it to. She watched it drip for a good half a minute, before reaching under the floral box cover for antiseptic tissue to stem the flow of blood. From the cupboard she removed the mop and bucket, and carefully measured in the floor cleaner and topped off the water level to attend to the spillage before the stain set in.
Would the stain set in? Sandra didn’t know for sure, but for the price Jerry paid, she certainly hoped not. Wouldn’t do for Jerry to come home and find the place covered in blood stains.
It would not do at all.
“We will have to redo the entire kitchen, anyway. Yes, get rid of all the bad memories.” Sandra stared down at her dress and saw the creases. She looked around to check if anyone was watching and smoothed a few on her left breast. “First thing in the morning, I’ll pop down to the showroom and get some brochures for the new season ranges.”
These days she seemed so tired. She slipped the newly transferred DVD into the player, the original VHS tapes had been taken for the investigation.
Sandra looked at the happy images on the screen. The summer barbecue for Margot’s fifteenth birthday. The last of many family gatherings where she and Jerry had held court. The fun and games that were had, even if Margot did seem sullen and withdrawn, but weren’t all teenagers at that age? The inevitable invite to Tim, Margot’s rather flamboyant friend, to try and cheer her up. He was so headstrong. Even at such a young age she could tell Tim would go somewhere. When he set his mind to something, he did it. Sandra knew that if he’d only reject that lifestyle choice, he would be a good provider for her daughter, even if it was rather un-PC these days to say so. And even if he didn’t like them.
The sound on the film was muted. There was no need to hear what was being said. She knew it off by heart, anyway.
The phone fixed to the wall began to chirp. A soothing and pleasant tone that almost made her feel sorry that she had to answer the phone at all.
“Hello, Bernard residence. Can I help you?” Sandra said, with perfect diction. There was no reason why she should let her telephone manner slip.
There was silence on the other end.
“Can I help you?” Sandra repeated, wishing she had just activated the answering machine.
“I’m going to kill you for what you did.” The voice rasped.
“I didn’t know.” There was a quiver in her voice. “I didn’t know. I had nothing to do with it. Leave me alone.”
“Don’t play the innocent one.” The voice said.
She let out a long breath to try and compose herself, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “Please. For God’s sake, leave me alone.”
The buzz of the dial tone filled her head like a swarm of wasps.
“For God’s sake, leave me alone. Just leave me alone.”
The harassment had started to unfold three weeks ago. She was sure the police didn’t care anymore. Why would they? Even they thought she knew, though they never came right out and said it.
A brick with a note and that hideous thing attached. Right through the French doors in the middle of the night. Fourth time in as many weeks. She took the note and that vile thing and stuffed them both deep into the kitchen drawer.
The projectile had completely destroyed her valuable porcelain doll collection. Jerry had started it for her with a gift on their seventh date, she had mentioned she liked the elegant and dignified look of one of the dolls on display in the window of O’Rourke’s on the High Street. The collection was insured, but that wasn’t the point. No amount of money could bring back the memories that she associated with those dolls. The birthdays, the anniversaries.
Jerry had been so kind, so handsome back then. She knew right there and then; they would be together. Forever.
She had been there for him each and everyday, right from the start of all this bother. She had fought her way through a whole host of reporters from sundry local newspapers, and one or two of the low rent nationals.
No one had paid her this much attention since her azaleas had won second prize in the village festival, three years earlier. Some of the reporters were even the same as that day on the village green, though they had treated her much more respectfully back then.
She was seated at the back of the courtroom, away from all the prying eyes, but projecting confidence all the same. There was no doubt in her mind, this had all been a terrible mistake. Soon they could put all this behind them and move on, be one happy family again.
Jerry stood before the court, a hollow man.
She wished he’d eat a little more. The suit was practically falling off his shoulders, but they’d said a tailor was out of the question. Clearly, they knew nothing about appearances. She only had to look at any of their lot to know that. When he was home, and all this was over, she’d fix his favourite meal. She glanced at her watch, wondering if they’d have time to visit the butchers shop on the way home before it closed. Check up on John and his family and see how his eldest got on with her Performing Arts A-Level. Oh, that reminded her, better get a Congratulations card from the Newsagent, too.
The verdict was in.
Sandra opened the drawer under the granite counter of her £20,000 kitchen suite. All her friends had been over to ooh and aah when it first went in. She’d basked in their adoration that day and at the many dinner parties they had held over the following months. She hadn’t heard from any of them since The Verdict. Fair weather friends. If only it had been different, they could have carried on as before.
Their community had rallied round when Steve Daly had been convicted for drink driving. Why should this be any different? They ignored her and crossed to the other side of the pavement when she was out doing her shopping.
Sandra tried to shut all this out of her mind and fixate on the good times as she pulled out the note and dropped it down on the counter top.
As she unfurled the note one or two little shards of glass and the test spilled out onto the counter. She reached into the chopping block and brought out the chef’s knife.
“I’m going to get rid of you, once and for all.”
She spoke directly to Margot’s pregnancy test as she held it down with her left hand and raised the knife with the right. “You won’t hurt us after this.”
The crash in the shed startled her, and Sandra dropped the knife. Somewhere she could hear drums, but the television was off. She listened closely and realised it was her own heart, pounding away in her chest.
There was someone outside. There must be, she could hear the rustle of the leaves. The weather had been mild, and the wind had been still. It must be someone.
Could this really be it? She thought to herself. Would they really follow up on their threat? They wouldn’t. They’d be as guilty as...
She looked over to the phone, mounted on the wall and instinctively reached out for it.
As she touched it, it began to ring, making her recoil in horror.
The sound of a brick smashing though the kitchen window drowned out the ringing phone for a moment. It landed on the granite counter, knocking the note to the floor.
Sandra took off her heels and reached for the knife. Its blade glinted in the overhead light of the kitchen.
She placed her back flat against the cabinet door. The door handle cold and uncomfortable against the back of her head.
She read the note again, for the first time in three weeks.
There’s no one coming to save you, rapist. You’re dead.
“Margot, I’m sorry.” Sandra said, and she drew the blade across her own neck.
At least, thought Sandra, there will be no more silent phone calls.