By Leonie Milliner
Different Ways of Killing Trilogy Part 1
“Yeah, I know, I know…” The door’s open so Christina must be in, she thinks. “I know…”
Keys in one hand, Polly pushes the fob deep into her jeans pocket and heaves her bag from elbow to shoulder. “I know…” her mobile is locked to her ear. “I feel like nothing ever happens. Life is so boring, I mean…,” she doesn’t take off her Ugg boots. If Christina is in, her mum won’t be and will never know. She shifts her mobile to her left ear. “I feel like I’m waiting, but what for? I should be at Geography now, but I can’t be bothered.” Oh, and she needs a coffee, and it’s a bit chilly in here, a bit of a draught. The side door’s open. Polly turns around, still talking. “Listen, hang on….just a mo…no, I’m not going back. I know Mr Yates will ….yea…!”
“Alright?” Polly nods at the bloke standing in the kitchen. She notices the silver skull rings on his chubby fingers.
“Alright?” He says. She likes the way he shifts from foot to foot as though he is cold, shoulders hunched.
“Can I help?” she says. Sometimes, she likes the impression her voice makes.
“Nah,” he says. “Just waiting for me mate.”
“Oh!” She lets the strap to her bag fall onto her elbow again. Rather nice. She likes to confound her parents with her choice of men and so she lingers in the hall, looking at him through her fringe.
“You waiting for Christina?”
“Err? Yeah.” He shifts again, appealingly.
Polly smiles and runs upstairs, feeling his eyes on her black clad thighs. On her bed, her single pink bed, she exhales.
Wow, she thinks, he is nice. She puts her phone to her ear.
“What do you think I should do?” Polly asks, rolling onto her hip and looking out of her window. There is a workman in a fluorescent jacket in the garden below, unscrewing the pedestal to her dad’s funny little round sculpture thing with the hole in the middle. He nicks his finger and swears and looks up at her. She ducks back down below the curtain.
“What do you think? Is it ethical? To poach your au-pair’s boyfriend? Not that Christina’s got a boyfriend…she’s just too plain, but maybe he is an attempt at a boyfriend.”
The side door bangs.
The sculpture must be heavy, she thinks, because she can hear them heaving breathlessly on the step outside.
“Or maybe,” she says, “he’s not Christina’s man. Maybe he is something to do with the restorer. Dad’s been on about that Hepworth to mum for ages, about how it’s going green out there. Hang on…’’she says and looks at herself in the mirror. Not black enough, her eyes. She puts on more Kohl and white powder across her face.
“I’ll text you.” She says and pats her hair and pulls up the waist of her leggings.
On the half landing she glances down into the front area. There is a white van parked next to the basement steps and another man, a bit of a bruiser, sliding the van door shut. So they haven’t gone yet, she thinks. She runs down the stairs. But then she is aware of her breath rising too quickly. She must be cool, calm. So she slouches on the balustrade. He is on the top basement step and the bruiser man is telling him to come on, jerking his head in the direction of the van.
“My mum’s not going to be too pleased with those.” She says, tilting her head towards the muddy footsteps on the white carpet. What an idiot she thinks. How would that get her a date?
“Never mind,” he says, crunching his knuckles. “Must go.”
“Oh!” She says and she shivers. How do you get a bloke’s number, anyway, she thinks? “Fancy a coffee?” she says. That’s better.
Can he speak? She is beginning to wonder, as he shifts ever more agitatedly. “Got to go,” he says. Oh! He’s so cool, she thinks.
“But my dad’s got your number, right?” She says.
“For the sculpture?”
“Yeah. Your dad, that’s right.”
“I’ll ring you then.”
The door closes. She sinks against the wall. There is lead in her stomach and her head beats with the rush of her heart. But she doesn’t know his name.
“Damn it,” she says out loud. Now she has to concoct a story to persuade her dad to tell her who’s got the Hepworth. Then ring the restorers with a tale to find out the cute boy’s name. That would show them. But she needs coffee. She swings around the newel post and crosses the hall into the kitchen, texting and reaching for her mug. The kettle? No kettle. She looks along the long corian surface. No kettle, not even a plug. It’s always empty in the kitchen, in a minimalist ‘wipe clean we only ever drink champagne’ way that her parents live. But there is no toaster either, or microwave….
The front door bangs. She spins around. In comes Christina with twenty Waitrose bags, a long scarf and sweat on her face.
“I’m home…” calls Christina. “It is very cold in here – you have the side door open, Polly.’
Polly stares. Above Christina’s head is Polly’s own rounders bat held by chubby silver ringed fingers. Oh God! Cute boy. She remembers the bat has a frayed cord handle. As the bat strikes Christina’s head and the cord turns red Polly can’t stop looking at the handle and remembering how she usually pulls at the cord when she should be paying attention to the game and running.
Christina’s head hits the floor before the Waitrose bags leave her hands and their contents spill.
Leonie lives in Islington, London and writes short stories and flash fiction. She is half way through writing her first novel, ‘Turncoats Daughter,’ an historical tale set in Italy in 1755 and London in 1764. This is Leonie’s first collection of short stories exploring the female and death.