by Samantha Tonks
by Samantha Tonks
Tilly wondered if you could break your jaw from clenching your teeth. If it was possible, then she was certainly at risk. She worked on relaxing her face; it resisted.
“Come on,” she breathed, “they’re just people.”
She surveyed the group, managing a neutral expression. They may be people, but they were her least favourite sort. She’d been dreading the school pick-up for weeks, ever since the funeral.
“Oh, Tilly, so good to see you,” brayed one as she broke free of the pack and advanced. It took all the willpower in the world to keep Tilly from bolting.
It was Natalie, and all eyes flew to watch as the Queen Bee embraced Tilly, heaping a great show of sympathy on the young widow. Tilly almost swayed under the weight of pity and perfume.
“I’ve been thinking of you, poor darling,” Natalie cried as she held her at arm’s length, eagerly scanning for tear stained cheeks. “How are you coping?”
“Fine,” Tilly said quietly, flashing a weak smile for those looking on. “We’re managing just fine, thanks.”
Natalie nodded in overstated understanding. To her credit she looked almost as if she knew what it was like to lose your husband to suicide. To experience the trauma of it all; the shock, the sadness and the anger. The all-consuming loneliness. Perhaps even the guilt.
Tilly imagined perfect Natalie having to explain to her children that Daddy had been sick - on the inside where no one could see it - and that he had been so unhappy that he had wanted to go to Heaven. She pictured her neatly made-up mouth kissing their little foreheads and telling them not to cry as Daddy was at peace now.
“Lucky Daddy,” Tilly thought ruefully. Yet she straightened her back and firmed her smile.
“We’re looking forward to getting away over the holidays,” she offered to the whole group. A wave of nods passed through the mothers. More understanding sympathy.
“Of course, darling, just what you all need,” approved Natalie generously.
Tilly was at a loss for further conversation and felt strained under the growing silence, Natalie oozing compassion as she continued to stare and smile. Tilly very nearly sighed when the school bell rang, releasing the children from their classes and the tension from the moment.
“Ah, here they come,” declard Natalie as the kids swarmed out of the gate. “Poor little things,” she added, pouting as Tilly’s two sons emerged. Tilly resisted the urge to slap Natalie’s hand away as she patted the youngest mournfully on the head. The boys themselves maintained a polite silence for which Tilly was wildly grateful.
“So we’d better be going,” she said, hastily producing another smile, “hope you all enjoy the holidays.”
“And we hope you can find some peace on your little break too, darling,” Natalie said with another patronizing pout. “Such a hard time for you all.”
Tilly nodded. Thankfully her assailant seemed quite satisfied with the exchange and turned on her heel to scoop up her own children and regal the larger group with her holiday plans. Rome, Florence, Venice; the mothers were soon absorbed in the itinerary, with Tilly and her drab, grieving little family soon forgotten.
“Thank God,” Tilly sighed. Her eldest son shot her a grin. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” she murmured.
After all, they had some packing to do. Natalie and spawn may be off to Italy, but Tilly and her boys would be sunning themselves on the islands of the Caribbean. She’d worked hard for it too, bloody hard. How many black eyes had she endured at the hands of her husband? How many clumps of hair had he torn from her head? It had taken years to work up the nerve to finally do away with him, but now that it was done – and done so neatly, right down to the suicide note - it was time to move on. John had been a punishingly frugal man, and the family now had the means for far more than a simple holiday on the beach. As Daddy lay in his grave, his cruel hands at rest, his family would be making a new life for themselves in the tropics, no luxury spared. The bastard had finally paid and it was Tilly’s time in the sun. Her silver Aston Martin gleamed as she pulled out from the curb, the flash of light catching Natalie’s eye and dropping her jaw.
“Ciao,” Tilly whispered as she sped away.
About the Author
Sam is a print journalist with 17 years experience, now reporting for a regional newspaper in country NSW. She is working on a middle grade novel as well as various short stories and pieces of flash fiction. Sam is also exploring the world of freelancing with a view to getting more involved in editing.
For More Information
Like us on Facebook and get notified each time a new story is available.
Do you have a short story that people will want to read?