Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
Undiagnosed By Jean Cooper Moran
I steady the car, dropping a gear as it sways towards the crown of the road. This winding, narrow route overhung with dark and dripping foliage challenges my driving of the swollen-bodied SUV, my husband’s cherished possession. My small Fiat would have been the better choice, but then I wasn’t myself when I left the party, because – was I upset? I can’t remember but that’s not unusual for me. I can hear a voice in my head saying, ‘Helen, all’s well, just rest now.’ My spirits lift a little as if someone has laid a hand on my shoulder to comfort me. Now I’m driving with automatic ease, not squinting into the rear-view mirror as I usually do. My mind is calm and focused on my task: seeing and navigating the road ahead. I fall asleep as my burdens slip away.
I had to take over, I drive better than she does anyway. I’m sorry for Helen, she has no self-respect and little natural courage so she won’t see what’s so clear to me, Stella, her better self. I left the party only after I’d drenched that devious little slut with a decanter of red wine and told the company exactly what her relationship was to Andy, our husband. You should have been there; you’d love our faux-timbered house set in an acre of greenery, its bright panes glowing amber with welcome and the fragrance of polish everywhere. (She loves housework, I just endure it - give me a career any day). Oh, she’s waking up, that’s unusual.
Oh God! Did I black out? What happened? The car has slewed sideways again and I bring it back to its proper path. I’m ice-cold, shaking with an adrenalin rush needling my hands. How long was I out – was it a micro-sleep as they say happens when you’re overtired? I grip the steering wheel and concentrate harder but that familiar, soothing wave of comfortable reassurance is blanketing my mind, and I …
To continue my story while I drive - all our friends, family and his business contacts had gathered to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our happy marriage. I hate the thought that it’s also the fourth anniversary of his affair with that harpy he calls a buyer. I decided I’d had enough but Helen never has faced the hard facts of life. I dealt with her mother’s death and all the messy situations since: facing her challenges at school, coping with her father’s drinking, steering her love life - until I took steps. She won’t recall what happened this evening either; we’re leaving him and we’re better off without him. Yes, we’re better off! I said - ‘We’re better off!’ You’ll regret this, Helen. I can’t believe she’s waking again...
Why am I driving away? I slam the brakes on, swerving onto the edge of the road, and turn the car around. I don’t know why I left and what happened but I am damned sure going to find out.
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