Read My Girl Online

Authors: Jack Jordan

My Girl

BOOK: My Girl
3.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

First published in paperback and eBook in 2016

Jack Jordan 2016

Jack Jordan has asserted the right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted or stored in a retrieval system, in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

First edition.

Printed in Britain, fulfilled by Amazon.

ISBN: 978-1532815386

Also by Jack Jordan:

Anything for Her

Nanny Pam, thank you for all of the bedtime stories that you told me as a child, and for making them so funny that our faces hurt from smiling and our bellies ached from laughing. I cherish all of our memories, and I love you with all my heart.


For the first few seconds after she woke, Paige Dawson lived in a world where her husband Ryan was snoring lightly beside her, and her daughter Chloe was sleeping peacefully in the next room. When reality slowly trickled in, she instantly wanted to return to sleep – to forget they were dead – to stop the tears from rolling down her cheeks.

As her eyes adjusted to the room, she coughed violently. Stale smoke sat in the air. Worn clothes lay crumpled on the living room floor, smelling of damp and old sweat. Cigarette ash had been trodden into the carpet. A photo frame faced the ceiling. Ryan smiled from behind the cracked glass; a time when he was happy – before he slashed his wrists.

Get up. You need to get up.

She reached down to the carpet and patted around the mess in the dark until she found the tray of tablets. It shook in her hands as she popped each pill through the foil:
one, two, three.
She placed them on her dry tongue, picked up the half-empty wine bottle from the floor and took a swig. The wine was warm, but it did the job. The diazepam would kick in soon.

As she sat up, pain exploded in her temples. She lit a cigarette, cringed with the first toke, and stared at the daylight creeping from behind the closed curtains. The real world was taunting her:
you can’t hide away from me forever.

The smell of sick filled the house. How long it had been in the house with her: a night? A week? She wondered if there would be blood in it again.

What would Chloe think if she saw me like this?
Chloe would have been twenty-four years old by now. Her severed arm had been found in the river, her fourteen-year-old fingertips breaking through the surface. They never found the rest of her body, nor did they find the person who killed her. The forensics team had tested her blood: she had been alive when her murderer began chopping her up.

The diazepam wasn’t working fast enough. She could still feel the painful void in her chest; she could still see her husband’s blood swirling around in the bathwater. If she closed her eyes, Ryan’s lifeless eyes flashed in front of hers.

She snatched the packet of codeine from the side table and swallowed two tablets with more wine.

 When she lifted the cigarette to her lips, she found it wasn’t there. She peered over the edge of the sofa and saw the cigarette burning a black hole into the carpet.

Maybe the diazepam is working.

 She picked up the cigarette, spat on the blackened carpet, and gave it a rub with her finger, as though she had kissed a child’s plastered graze.
There. All better.

 She spotted Ryan watching her from the mess on the ground, his lips frozen in an eternal smile.

However hard she tried, she couldn’t remember the last time she kissed those lips. She couldn’t remember when the kisses stopped, or when the distance started.

She shook the thought from her head and stumbled into the kitchen.

 The bin was bulging with weeks of waste. Empty wine bottles lined the wall by the back door. Loud, languid flies buzzed around in hopeless circles. An uneaten meal sat in a pan on the stove, discoloured and congealed. She couldn’t even remember cooking it, let alone forgetting to eat it.

The last time she had looked into Ryan’s eyes while he was alive, he had been pinning her to the floor with his body as he forced a slice of bread into her mouth. His frustrated tears fell onto her face as he begged her to eat. He only stopped when the bread lodged in her throat. He had freed the blockage with fingers bent like a fishhook and then, as she gasped for air, he had sobbed from where he lay on the carpet, with bits of bread and saliva coating his fingers.

She wasn’t starving herself – she just forgot to eat.

The sound of the key turning in the lock made her jolt. Her mother-in-law gasped. Shame turned in Paige’s gut.

Greta stood in the doorway with her eyes on the mess.

‘Paige, this is…’

‘I was about to clean up,’ she replied as she returned to the living room.

Greta placed her bags by the door. She looked reluctant to close it, to say goodbye to the fresh air, but when she did, it slammed.

‘How could you let it get this bad?’

Greta threw open the curtains. Paige squinted as daylight burst into the room.

‘Are those
on the carpet?’

As Greta rifled through the mess, Paige wondered how the woman before her held herself together. Her hair had been set at the salon, her make-up was perfect, her clothes were ironed and fresh. No one would have known that her only son had committed suicide just two months before.

‘I expected better from you, Paige.’

Paige glanced at herself in the mirror above the fireplace and saw greasy auburn hair, streaks of mascara hardened on her cheeks, the stained nightgown stuck to her body with sweat. She looked older than her forty-two years.

‘I don’t know why, but I had a feeling you might have changed the locks.’

‘I wouldn’t do that.’

Greta spotted the photo of Ryan, hidden beneath the cracks in the glass. She sighed and took it in her hands. For a moment her frown disappeared, and she looked almost beautiful. She stood the photo frame on the coffee table and looked back to Paige. The frown immediately returned.

‘Not up to cleaning yet?’ Greta asked, as she picked up her bags and carried them into the kitchen.

‘I’ve got other things on my mind,’ Paige replied, following her into the kitchen.

‘Shall I? I’ve done your food shopping, so I might as well do your cleaning.’

Paige held her resentment back. ‘I was just heading out.’

‘Presumably after you’ve showered.’

She looked Paige up and down again.


‘I will clean while you’re out, then.’

‘If that would please you, Greta.’

‘It would. Ryan would want me to look out for you.’


Greta looked around the mess for other aspects to criticise. Paige waited patiently, longing to be alone.

‘Are you sleeping on the sofa?’

‘For now.’

‘Imagine if one of your neighbours should walk past and see you.’

Greta went into the living room to stare at the mess again, lost at where to start. Paige followed behind her.

‘I don’t care what people think of me.’

‘Clearly. I can’t remember the last time I saw you clean and dressed.’

‘That’s the thing with being a widow, you focus on the death of your partner, rather than what people think of you.’

‘Well, if I were you—’

‘But you aren’t, Greta.’

They stared at each other, like two cats about to fight. They stood in silence for a while, their eyes locked.

‘You said you were off out?’

‘Doctor’s appointment.’

‘Who is it you see?’

‘Dr Abdullah.’

‘Ah yes, the Muslim fellow. I prefer Dr Phillips. She’s Christian.’

‘Dr Abdullah is a Christian, too, I believe.’

‘Really? Still, I prefer Sally. She has a kind air about her, and presents herself well.’ Greta looked her up and down as she spoke.

‘Well, I’ll leave you to it.’

‘Yes. I’d better start cleaning, before this place becomes infested with rats.’ Greta picked up an ashtray from the coffee table. ‘Must you really smoke in the house? Ryan would have never allowed it.’

‘Well Ryan’s dead now, isn’t he? So I’ll smoke in my house if I want to.’

Greta flinched, but held her tongue.

‘Thanks for the food,’ Paige said, and made for the stairs.

The moment she got upstairs, she turned on the shower and retrieved the bottle of wine she had hidden under her bed. She certainly wasn’t going to step out into the real world without help.

Paige returned to the bathroom and locked the door behind her. She peeled off the nightgown that stuck to her like a second skin, sat on the toilet and drank wine straight from the bottle as steam filled the room. She stared at the bath and saw Ryan’s lifeless body lying in the red water, his vacant eyes locked on hers. Paige clenched her eyes shut and shook her head.

He’s not real. He’s gone.

When she opened her eyes again, the bath was empty. Ryan was gone.

She checked her urine: blood again. She flushed the blood from the toilet, and the thought from her mind. She couldn’t think about that right now.

As she breathed in the thick, hot mist, and drank warm wine from the bottle, she began to cry silent tears: she could never escape the fact that she was the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man.


Paige wondered if the other people in the waiting room knew that she had been drinking. The receptionist had looked her up and down as she walked in, a little unsteady on her feet.

The man sitting next to her broke into a coughing fit until he was red in the face. She leaned away from him and looked up at the noticeboard, hoping to see her name.

A toddler was playing with some toys in the corner. Paige watched her intently, seeking out similarities between her and Chloe when she was that age.

The child’s mother stroked her daughter’s hair, picked her up and held her close. Paige blushed. She had been staring again.

The man next to her coughed again, almost retching, with raised veins protruding from his neck. The electronic noticeboard beeped and her name appeared.

Paige grabbed her bag and hurried towards the doctor’s office, with the heat of the mother’s glare on her back.

She knocked on the door, and heard him call for her to enter.

Dr Abdullah had been treating Paige and her family for over fifteen years. He had watched the family dwindle down to one.

Sitting with his back to a small window overlooking the car park, Dr Abdullah peered over his glasses and smiled. His bronze, aged skin contrasted with his white beard and hair. His gut protruded over his belt, straining the buttons on his white shirt.

She decided not to tell him about the blood in her urine. Not him. Anyone but him.

‘Paige, how are you?’

‘Fine,’ she replied as she sat down.

‘I’m sorry for what you’re going through, without Ryan.’

‘It’s fine.’

Why do I say that? Of course it’s not fine.

‘How are you coping? Do you think you need your dosage upped again?’

‘Not yet.’

‘Are you here for a refill?’


‘That’s sooner than usual.’

‘I’m in more pain than usual.’

‘I see.’
He pulled up her record on the computer screen.

Anxiety sat in her stomach. She hated this bit. She couldn’t wait to be back home on the sofa where she felt safe. Where the wine was.

The diazepam was prescribed for anxiety, while the codeine was for a back injury that she’d made up for the drugs. Both of them kept up the lie – it was in both of their best interests.

‘I can only prescribe you sixty of each, and that’s pushing it.’

‘Sure. Whatever.’

A machine whirled as the prescription began to print. Dr Abdullah took out six extra packets of pills from his drawer, placed them on the desk, and began to untie his belt.

‘The blinds,’ she said.

‘Oh yes,’ he laughed. ‘That wouldn’t do, would it?’

He spun around in his chair and closed the blinds as Paige snatched the pills from the desk and pushed them deep into her bag. He put her prescription on the desk with one hand, and unzipped his flies with the other.

Paige got on her knees, tasted him in her mouth, and shuddered with shame.

BOOK: My Girl
3.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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