I want to say this is ONLY contemporary FICTION, with an unexpected twist!

I’ve been learning more about image and voice at Waikato University and this prose sample is one of the weekly assignments submitted for assessment. It’s short and hopefully gives you some insight into my writing style. Enjoy!

The Beard

I squint at my cell phone. Within minutes Bruno will arrive home. I yank out the third drawer of the dresser, confidently running both hands through the jumbled clothing. Alert, listening for his car pulling into the driveway and the brisk crunch of his footsteps on the gravel leading to the front door.
Nothing.

Standing, I scan around the room again, fearful at looking out of the window in case the nosey neighbour recognises me. Her lined, grey face divided by a sharp nose, a blood-hounds knack for sniffing out local gossip. Her dark ferret eyes, all-knowing, all-seeing, send a shiver up my spine.

Turning away from the net curtains, I pull open the double doors of the wardrobe. I stretch up onto my tiptoes, running my agitated fingers along the top shelf, heart racing, breathless with anxiety. I must get out before he returns. I swap hands and pat my fingertips along the other side, feeling the edges of blankets, a shoebox, and a cold piece of metal. Where are the hidden files? The lawyer made it clear I must get evidence of his income and assets.

The roar of Bruno’s car swinging into the driveway makes me automatically crouch. I flinch as two doors slam shut. The keys jangle as he jams them into the front door. Get out. Leave now. Holding my breath, there’s no time and no way to escape. I plunge into the wardrobe, clamber over assorted shoes on the floor and press myself behind the shirts I had ironed to perfection only eight days ago. The claustrophobic clothing presses against my face, smothering me in darkness, offering some solace. He’ll never know I’m hiding here.

His sandalwood smell impregnates the jackets and an old winter coat. My heart contracts as I inhale his familiar scent, reminding me of our marital misery. Crouched in the gloom, the coarse wool of a sleeve brushes my flushed cheek. I reach for the doors and pull them almost closed, before retreating behind the heavy clothing again. I cower at the back of the darkest corner, camouflaged by the familiarity of his hanging apparel.

Footsteps clatter across the tiled entryway. Who else is with Bruno?

Blood pulsates in my temples, my chest is painful with heart-wrenching anxiety. Sweat forms on my upper lip which I quickly smear away with my shirt-sleeve. Gnawing fear tightens my stomach. Muffled voices murmur downstairs as I crouch, willing myself to blend into the wardrobe’s expansive walls. Disguised by darkness, panic begins to rise, distorting my perception. Had I closed all the drawers, removing any trace of being here? Did everything appear undisturbed just as he had left it? Or had I left that third drawer open?

I hear drinks poured and the innocuous clinking of ice. Two glasses touch and a beat of laughter waft upstairs to my hiding place. Maybe there’s enough time to escape?  It’s too late to hide in the study and clamber out of the window, unseen.

My left arm aches wedged into the cramped corner of my secret enclave. I turn slightly, about to stand up, from behind the jackets and ties to stretch my neck and rotate my shoulder. But my pain is interrupted by the heavy tread of two people moving closer, up the stairs.

Did he already have a new girlfriend, a lover, after only one week apart? A twisted kernel of fury burns like an ember searing my jealous heart. Two months ago, he arrived home late for three nights in a row. I was convinced he was sleeping with the new receptionist, a pretty little blonde barely out of a stroller. I worked myself up and had driven at speed to his office. Sure enough, he was there working at his desk, the girl-child nowhere to be found.

Humiliated, I apologised. Bruno sighed and kissed me, repeating he loved me. I left the building. My trust flayed on the depths of suspicion.

I consider this outrageous possibility again but suppress a surge of anger as the pair enter the room. The traitorous bastard! He must have been sleeping with her long before we broke up. The euphemistic ‘time apart’ he repeated in his pleas last week, didn’t condone a shagger’s delight on Wednesday afternoons!

Tears prickle the back of my eyes. An unholy storm swirls through my mind. I had to know. I had to see who was lying on our bed, pressing her naked body against my husband.

Is that my sister’s voice? I carefully tilt my head, sharpening my attention, but the voices quieten. I strain to listen, but the whispers of sweet nothings are suppressed while I fume, desperate to control my blow-torch angst.

There is a flick, some scrunching of fabric. Please don’t start screwing right here, right now. I bend forward, pressing the palms of my hands over my ears. But moments later music plays. Dominque’s crystal-clear voice penetrates the darkness, Could I Love You Anymore. Her singing slices through my spirit. The same bloody music he played when we made love. I’ll kill him. I’ll kill her.

Holding my breath, I slowly manoeuvre into position, peering through a crack in the partially open wardrobe door. The prick still hasn’t fixed the broken hinge!

The corner of our crumpled duvet straddles the end of our bed. On the far side of the room, the blue armchair comes into view, their clothes are carelessly scattered over the padded armrests.

I tense at the sight of movement under the bedsheet. She’s a stranger, ruffled red hair and the same height as Bruno. I look away and swallow, sickened by their intention. I don’t want to watch, but I’m magnetically drawn, torn between closet voyeur and a masochistic desire to see the last shards of my broken life erupt from the whispered love-talk between the pair.

A jolt fires through me with bulls’ eye accuracy. A shock of disbelief mingles with abject horror. Thunder explodes my tortured doubt. I recognise the voice, its lilting tone, the familiar Nike trainers carelessly tossed beside the bed, and the tell-tale tufts of curly orange hair strewn across my pillow.

NO!!

Not my brother!