As the hours ticked by and the ten o’clock news started, Martha’s worries about Thomas began to deepen. She had assumed that Thomas had gone to Elizabeth, but what if he staggered into the road; been knocked over? She listened to the local news. Nothing was reported. She picked up her mobile and dialled his number. Nobody answered. It rang for a few minutes before she gave up.
She finally sent a text. Thomas, please ring me, I’m really worried about you. Please Thomas. I just want to know you’re okay.
The front room paced, Martha held on to her mobile, but nothing happened. She touched her expensive gold ring, twirled it around in her fingers, and remembered the day they had said their vows.
Every five minutes she rang Thomas. Again and again it went straight to voice mail. It was getting late. The only thing left on television were re-runs of Morecambe and Wise. Normally it was her guilty pleasure, but tonight she wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy the show.
All sorts of imaginings swept through. At one point she was close to calling the police but changed her mind at the last minute. Thomas wouldn’t want them involved.
She turned the television over to the late news channel, watching again for any reports of accidents she might have missed. Partly glad nothing disastrous happened a small amount of anger was trying to burst through. Why wasn’t he contacting her to put her mind at rest? Why did he choose to let her suffer like this? Why did he hate her so much?
Before retiring to bed, she tried his mobile one more time. Thomas I’m going to bed, please ring me. I am so worried. I love you so much.
Her confusion alternated from complete and utter fear for his safety, to a flickering resentment that he still hadn’t called her, so that she could sleep more soundly. As she stuttered into an uneasy sleep, images fluttered in front of her eyes. Thomas was motionless on the front room floor. Flies swarmed around his body. She flicked them away with her hands, but they covered her instead.
She woke from her nightmare drenched in her own sweat. The early morning rays streamed in a gap between the curtains. An empty space beside her, Thomas’s absence hit her once more. He had been missing overnight. She had no choice but to contact the police for help. Unsteadily getting to her feet, she got dressed.
It took her almost twenty minutes to apply her make-up, but at least the puffiness over her eyes had gone down.
She tried Thomas’s number one last time. Thomas, I’m going to phone the police. I’m sick with worry and wouldn’t forgive myself if you were hurt. Please ring me if you can darling. Everything is okay. I’m okay.