A place for everything and everything in its place, she says to herself. Every morning she works her way from room to room dusting window sills and picture frames, even picking up ornaments and dusting the dust-free spaces beneath them. She vacuums the rugs, room by room, rolling them up to vacuum underneath. On rainy days she takes all the clean pots out of the clean-pot drawers and washes them. If it's not raining, she sweeps the path to the letterbox then sweeps the driveway. She irons every afternoon. She irons her underwear, blouse, skirt. She irons tea-towels, pillowslips, sheets. She's a production line that can't stop clicking and whirring despite diminishing returns. Once a week she changes the sheets on the children's beds, just as she always has though her five children have long since left home.
In the evenings she sits in her chair, drinking sherry, all alone.
I was staring at my old girlfriend Priscilla coming slowly closer, her face soft with feeling. A mean little man walked up behind her holding out a glass of champagne. I was about to speak, when I saw Priscilla had no feet.
I woke to the sound of someone breathing. I kept still, listening, trying to remember who lay beside. A magpie began shouting in the high branches. It swooped down, landing on the grass with a wild crooked laugh.
Who was I kidding? I'd been listening to myself breathing. These days, all that lies close is the bladder of wine tucked under my jumper.