“Just my stuff. Some magazines and a jumper, the red one you used to wear, the one you shrunk in the wash, remember? You know, the one that makes your tits look like melons.”

The Albrighton Rambler [photo: David Austin Roses]

The Albrighton Rambler [photo: David Austin Roses]

Rose crossed her arms across her chest. Rose crossed her arms across her chest. She hated that James could still get to her like this. I do not like him, I do not like him, she chanted to herself.

“You can keep the jumper, if you like, as long as I can watch you take it off.” He reached out and brushed his fingers along her arm.

The hairs on her arm stood to attention. She took a step back. “Don’t touch me.”

“You always liked it…”

“Well I don’t now.”

She walked straight to the hall cupboard and took out the cardboard box in which she had crammed his stuff. An insidious creep of his possessions had threatened to take over her flat. It was as if he’d decided to move into her place CD by CD, tube of toothpaste by bottle of shampoo, but Rose had quickly wised up to this tactic having tried it herself years previously on a boyfriend she thought she loved.

But it wasn’t James’ things messing up her neat flat which had finally swung her decision to end it, it was something much worse. His ‘nasty habit’. She thought back to when they first met and she couldn’t remember him doing it then. Maybe love had been blind, maybe she’d just got more observant. It had certainly taken the edge off his sexiness, in fact she could pinpoint the decrease of her libido to the first time she saw him do it: re-adjust his balls, shoving his right hand deep into his pocket and, well, cupping them. He did it everywhere, in restaurants, on the tube and once, unbelievably, at tea at Grandma Bizzie’s. It wasn’t a simple matter of realigning underwear. It was self-groping.

Now she held the door open, one arm pointing down the stairs to the street, the white skin of the knuckles of her right hand stretched as tightly as her grimace. He smiled at her, blinked and blinked again, and she wondered not for the first time whether he used mascara. His eyes were a strong point. Memories of the Sunday mornings came flooding back and her face flushed with heat. Damn it, don’t think about sex now. Her legs were getting hotter, the muscles on her face softened into a smile… and then he put his hand in his pocket and adjusted his bits.

“You’ve got everything. That’s it now James, go please.” She made her voice sound authoritative, like May, and waved her arm towards the stairs.

At the bottom he stopped and turned. “You know Rose you shouldn’t be such a cold bitch.”

After the bottom door clicked shut behind him, she breathed again.

No more estate agents for me. In fact no men who are remotely involved in selling as a job, they’re always the ones with the chat up lines.

She closed the door and re-positioned the doormat, squared and centred in the doorway. Then she took a cream cotton blanket out of the linen cupboard, and threw it over the red velvet sofa.
© Sandra Danby

…in IGNORING GRAVITY #13: in which Rose says the word ‘penis’ out loud in an editorial meeting.

This is the 12th instalment of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ about identity detective Rose Haldane. To start reading from the beginning, please click on the category ‘My Novel: Ignoring Gravity’ in the right hand menu.