I slide out from under Partner in the middle of the night. Drag feet as I walk into the bathroom. Sit down to pee, and then realise I don’t need to. Go over to the sink, look at myself in the mirror.
Not Verity anymore. To my astonishment.
Just little old me. Jet black eyes, stern mouth. Special.
I think I’m hungry. Or thirsty.
I think I need to get out of this flat.
Pull hoodie on over T-Shirt and slip out into the night. Walk along the street searching for a light. I think about running away. But where would I go? I don’t know where-
I can’t go home, so what’s the point?
I decide I am hungry when I see a petrol station up ahead. Bright light flashing snacks.
Two cars parked, but apart from that, empty. Quiet. Door chimes as I enter. Boy (Man?) looks up from phone. Nods at me. I nod back.
I peruse the aisles. Chocolate. Wrenches. Crisps. Plasters. I pick the colours that I like and head to the counter. He rings me up.
I blink at him. Startled, like I’ve never heard of currency.
I don’t have any money.
I look down, hands in pockets. I don’t have any money. I didn’t think-
How much did you say it was?
I feel about in my pockets still, knowing that I have nothing in them. I could put the snacks back…
But I don’t want to.
I want the snacks. And I used to only do things that I wanted. So, I decide to try that again.
I look up at BoyMan. Smile. He doesn’t smile back but he does watch me long enough for me to form a connection. I reflect his eyes back at him. It’s a weak line; I haven’t practiced in a while. But he’s not a challenge. He works in a petrol station after all.
Let me off this time.
I’ll let you off this time.
I…think so, yeah.
That’s so nice of you.
So, so nice.
He nods, a little dazed. I pick up my treats and begin to leave.
But I can’t. I’m wide awake now. I want to play.
It’s easier this time to connect. He waits, slack jawed, for my command.
Empty out the till.
He reaches into the till.I act surprised for the CCTV.
What are you doing?
What does it look like I’m doing?
Put it in a bag and give-
Put it in a bag and leave the bag in the wheelie bin outside 23 Burns Avenue.
He continues to fill the bag. I head out.
I run, actually. All the way home. I dump all my snacks on the kitchen counter and stare at them.
What have I done?
What a stupid-
What if he can’t find my address?
I stay up the rest of the night, sitting at the living room window, overlooking the drive. I brace every time a car goes past. An hour later, maybe four, I see a figure in a hoodie walking up. He opens the wheelie bin, my wheelie bin, and drops something in it. He looks up at the house and I duck. I don’t know if he sees me. But when I next look out, he’s gone.
I go back to bed like nothing has happened. Five minutes later Partner’s alarm goes off.
We get up, start our morning routine. I take my pills and the night before fades like a dream. Like with every day, I take the rubbish out to the bins. But when I look inside: There is the bag, full of cash, and what looks like a hand gun.
The Supervisor toots the horn of the car. I drop the rubbish in surprise and go towards him.
I should tell him about the cash, but I don’t.
For the first time in a long time, I lie.
For the first time in a long time, I can see the exit sign.