She hadn’t meant to kill her. Not initially, anyway. She’d entered the room knowing only that this woman was ruining her life and that, as a consequence, something had to be done about it. She’d thought they would talk, that she would definitely be forceful, perhaps a little threatening even, but she hadn’t considered actually ending her life. Not until her hands were wrapped tightly around her neck, willing the very last breath from her body, had she realised that death wasn’t just an option, it was the only option.
The eyes that stared back at her had been full of terror but that hadn’t been enough to make her blink, never mind look away. She’d needed to see it, to look right into the depths of her blackened soul and be reminded of how she’d sucked every inch of joy from her life, leaving her with a cavernous hole of frustration and loneliness that she had never been able to fill.
“Do you see what you’ve done to me? What you’ve turned me into?” She had forced the words out through gritted teeth, not sure in the moment if the droplets of liquid that fell on to the face beneath her were saliva or tears. It mattered not. The response to her desperate questions was a look that turned from terror to sadness and it was this complete woefulness that proved to be the most powerful, causing her to look away for the first time. But it was only momentary and did nothing but make her squeeze tighter still, her knuckles slowly turning white with the strain.
“Why won’t you just die?” she had pleaded, terrified that she would run out of strength. She’d grabbed for a nearby cushion and pushed it hard over pleading eyes, then lay on top of it using her entire body weight in a desperate attempt to get the job done. She’d held her own breath as arms and legs had flailed and then twitched, the movements clearly muted by a body already wasting away and ravaged by drugs, a circumstance they were both now grateful for.
And then finally it had stopped.
Now, as she walked briskly away from the large red- bricked building, she felt her gait slowly change from a hurried flustered scurry to a slower, more confident stride, her pounding heart calming as the distance between them widened, her neck lengthening, her head rising. She gave herself a little shake and felt the last knots of tension fall away, and then she smiled.
So this was what freedom felt like.
Thank you, Elaine Robertson North and Random Things Tours
About the author
Elaine spent 25 years working in marketing and communications in the media and entertainment industries. This included seven years marketing national newspapers and a variety of senior executive roles in TV, radio and film. I Can’t Tell You Why is her first novel.
Elaine lives in North London with her husband and their two sons. When she’s not writing, she can be found looking harassed on the school run, cheering on the side lines of her sons’ football matches or singing her heart out at her local branch of Popchoir.