Friday, June 13, 2014

the details

Richard was dead. It’s something Maddy knew as soon as she let herself in the flat, sloshed through the pool of water seeping out from under the bathroom door; knew when she saw him lying in the bath, one arm and one leg crooked over the side, his head lolling back, like he’d been trying to climb out when he died; knew as she turned off the taps, scalding her arms on the hot water as she reached down to pull the plug. It was a struggle to haul Richard out of the bath, but desperation gave her strength. On the flooded bathroom floor Maddy started pressing up and down on his chest like they said on the phone, but she had to crook it between her shoulder and her ear and it kept slipping off. And through it all, through her tears and the steam and the sweat and the shock of it all, really, she knew it was hopeless, she knew he was dead.
We were planning a life together.
I’m so sorry.
That’s why he hadn’t answered the door when she rang, on time (as usual) for their dinner date. That’s why he hadn’t answered when she called him on her mobile, standing out on the pavement looking up at his window. Something was wrong but who could she ask? His neighbours were out. Normally she had a spare set of keys but today she’d brought her new bag with her and she’d forgotten to transfer everything, so she had to go back to her flat. Ten minutes, but still. Would it have mattered? Would ten minutes have made any difference?
No. I don’t think so.
She should have had the keys on her. Why didn’t she have the keys on her? It was stupid, stupid. Ten minutes was a long time. Did I think it was her fault?
No. Absolutely not. She’s been incredibly brave. She did all she could and more. How on earth she managed to get him out of the bath like that. It was amazing – really, she did an amazing job. Is there anyone who could come and be with her?
She stares at the mobile phone in her hand. Takes a breath. Presses a number.
Answer phone.
Rachel? It’s Maddy, she says. Can you call me back? Richard’s died. I found him in the bath.
She presses the phone off again, lays it down carefully on the sofa next to her, then puts a hand on the cat that’s stretched out on her other side. An ancient long-haired tabby, twenty years at least, its rheumy eyes blissfully closing as Maddy starts to stroke it, long, firm, methodical strokes, like she wasn’t feeling the cat at all but smoothing something else, something she could see through the opposite wall, over and over and over, start to finish, again and again, trying to make it right.


TomVee said...

Aw, man. I feel for her, the desperation she must feel, the guilt that our ape brains concoct out of nothing.
Over time, it will heal - more or less.

Do you think this was an accident, or deliberate act?

Spence Kennedy said...


Dreadful for Maddy - and understandable that she'd blame herself (although I really don't think it would've made a difference). Like you say, hopefully over time she'll come to terms with what happened.

There's no way for us to know of course, but I'd think it was natural causes. :/

jacksofbuxton said...

Very sad Spence.A life together gone.Such a shame.

Spence Kennedy said...

A tragedy for both of them, Jack, no question.

I've just realised: 3 deaths in 3 posts! Oh dear. Some kind of new & dreadful record for this blog! I'll try to ease up with the next one (probably tempting fate, though...)

Cassandra said...

I think that is always the most tragic kind of loss, at least it seems that way to me personally. The one where there was all that life stretched out before them, the possibility of love and happiness and hope and all the GOOD things… and now it's gone. But then, maybe it wouldn't have been good. Maybe it would have been awful and the dreams that Maddy will cherish will be better than the reality ever would have been. Who can say?

Spence Kennedy said...

Hi Cass

I suppose it's always going to be a feature of grief - the loss of all those dreams and plans, as much as how things are now. A dreadful kind of torment. I hope Maddy finds a way to come to terms with such a cruel ending of what they had together, and what they might've had.

Anonymous said...

very well written! there's a sense of Maddy's desparation as well as the unexpectedness of the tragic situation she found. we really do walk in on people's worst days. good read, thanks

Spence Kennedy said...

No worries, Anon - and thanks for the comment. I have to say it's the worst part of the job, giving bad news. Even though you try to prep them for it as the incident progresses, it's still a horrible thing to have to tell anyone. Those unexpected deaths are the absolute worst, of course, as I'm sure you've found.

Anyway, thanks again for the comment, Anon. Very much appreciated.