Scanning her weary eyes over her checklist once more, Penny zipped her overstuffed suitcase shut, and placed it by the front door. Sally was sitting cross legged at the top of the stairs, watching her mother with sorrowful eyes.
Climbing the stairs to meet her daughter, she pulled her up onto her lap. ‘Mummy is going to miss you sweetie.’ Innocent eyes full of tears glared up at her curiously. ‘Are you and Daddy going to break up?’
‘Why do you ask that baby girl?’ Wiping the tears staining Sally’s cheeks, Penny gently placed an unruly hair behind her ear, as she processed the fact that children do not miss a trick. ‘You and Daddy have been fighting a lot.’ Drawing Sally closer to her chest, she stroked her daughter’s hair as she spoke. ‘Sometimes, adults gets very angry with each other, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.’
‘Why do you have to go mummy? Can I come with you?’ Penny desperately tried to hold back her own tears, that threatened to flow like a river about to burst its banks amidst a raging flood. ‘Mummy has to go and talk to Aunty Emma, and tell her she is sick.’
A confused expression made its way across Sally’s face. Buddy had suddenly joined them at the top of the stairs, ball in his mouth, tail wagging. ‘Mummy wants to see Aunty Emma face to face, and you baby girl, still have to go to school.’ With that, Sally seemed satisfied with Penny’s answer, and happily followed Buddy back downstairs to play a game of fetch.
A familiar sound could be heard at the front door. Damien’s keys going into the lock. Eyeing the suitcase by the door, his tone was short. ‘Still leaving in the morning then I see?’ No eye contact was made with his wife as he casually loosened his tie, placing his briefcase carefully on the table in the hallway.
Penny mumbled under her breath. ‘Not that you give a shit, you dick.’ Damien turned to face her, marched up the stairs, and placed his hand under her chin, lifting her head up so she was forced to look him in the eye. ‘What the fuck is that supposed to mean?’ The aggression in the voice was unsettling. She pulled away from his grasp and headed downstairs to cook dinner.
As she passed by the front door, she could clearly see a familiar shadowy figure in the window across the street. It was Fiona, once again, leering out her lounge room window straight at her. What is it with this bitch?
Turning back towards her husband, she angrily pointed in Fiona’s direction, raising her voice a little more than she intended to. ‘She sure does take an invested interest in what goes on in this house, doesn’t she?’ Damien turned towards the bathroom. ‘I’m going to go and have a shower. You are bloody paranoid, you know that.’
Penny arrived in the kitchen to find the entire contents of a bag of dog biscuits strewn all over the floor. Sally had obviously tried to feed Buddy and failed miserably. Stepping over the mess, Penny began to gather the vegetables from the crisper. She peeled and chopped, and wondered if it was the onion making her cry, or the fact that she was trying to erase the picture of Damien and Fiona together from her mind.
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2020