The letter, addressed to Andrew was propped up against the purple
The steady tapping of the rain, rhythmic and strangely comforting was
the only sound in the small, cramped living room.
Alison sat motionless in a leather armchair near the window and stared
blankly through its continuous stream of rainwater. The hideous
grandfather clock, (which she had always hated), suddenly chimed
loudly, boasting three o'clock. This seemed to rouse her from her deep
contemplation and Alison stood up stiff legs and walked towards the
With that strange, distant look in her eyes, she lightly touched the
corner of the envelope before physically shaking herself back to her
senses. Taking care not to glance in the direction of the large framed
photograph, she gathered her handbag and a battered suitcase closing
the door as she left the room.
As the front door closed quietly with a soft click, two smiling faces
beamed out from the photograph into the empty room...
The suitcase was heavy and the rain, which had seemed so comforting
earlier, soaked her hair and mingled with the salty tears cascading
unchecked down her cheeks.
As she stepped into the train station, a white transit van with the
front left hubcap missing indicated then turned right onto Park Wood
The tunes booming from his stereo were pleasing and Andrew tapped his
fingers on the steering wheel in time to the beat. With a final snort
of smoke from his nostrils, he wound down the window and tossed a
cigarette nub on to the road.
With mild annoyance, he noted that his usual parking space had been
filled so he continued slowly to the next available spot. Bumping the
curb, the van came to an ungracious halt and Andrew leaped out into the
rain, not bothering to lock the door.
Giggling childishly to himself, he splashed through the puddles on the
street before turning down the path to his front door.
A drenched and desolate woman stood shivering in the corner of the
waiting room. Clutching a suitcase that had seen better days, she
watched the passers by with an anxious expression as they hurried past
her to catch their trains.
Walking up to this woman, the observer removed his expensive overcoat
and lay it across her shoulders.
With a start Alison turned to face him, then relaxed visibly as he
leaned in to kiss her. The overcoat dropped to the filthy station floor
as the two exchanged a passionate embrace. The announcement of a train
pulling into platform three disturbed them rudely and they pulled
apart. He, picking up and shaking the cigarette ends and dust from his
coat. She, taking in great gulps of air.
Taking the suitcase from her hand, the tall gentleman lead Alison away
through the boisterous crowd towards platform three.
Shaking droplets of water from his hair, Andrew shut the front door.
Remembering how she detested wet shoes on her carpet, he pulled off his
boots and left them on the doormat. When no reply came from his initial
calling of her name, he made for the kitchen with the intention of
raiding the fridge.
The house felt cold and he gingerly touched the radiator in the hall.
With a loud "tut" he bounded up the stairs, two at a time to switch on
Waiting for the kettle to boil, Andrew mooched through the fridge. With
little to tempt his taste buds there, he resigned himself to the packet
of biscuits that sat unopened, on the counter top. Unconsciously
dropping crumbs, he made his way to the living room.
He noted with little interest that there were no messages for them on
the answer machine. Turning to switch on the television, something in
the corner of his eye caught his attention. With a strong sense of
foreboding, he walked slowly towards the small coffee table and to the
letter that was addressed to him. Picking it up, he recognised the
handwriting and ripped it open with trembling hands.
As the kettle clicked loudly in the kitchen he scrambled up the stairs.
Blinded by the hot tears that burned his eyes, he headed for the
direction of their bedroom and to the wardrobe that would confirm his
The pushing and shoving was grating on Malcolm's nerves. Why on earth
had he not pressed for catching a flight to Scotland rather than this
inconvenient and quite frankly, distasteful way of travelling. He
looked down at her face. Her mascara had run and had left grey-black
tramlines down her cheeks. As if feeling the intensity of his stare,
Alison looked up at him. Her eyes had taken on an unusual green hue
that he had not seen there before. Not imagining that this was the
product of endless crying over the last few hours, he mistook it for a
deep love that he thought she had for him. He reached out to touch her
cheek, wiping away the unsightly streaks of mascara.
Alison felt a strange disgust at his touch, the way he was looking at
her as if straight through her very soul. He seemed to have a smug,
possessive expression in his eyes.
As if looking at him for the first time, she searched his face, his
eyes, set of his mouth and jaw. The lock of hair that had strayed from
the expensive styling products he liked to use and the impatient way he
flicked it back.
As the passengers on platform three tousled and fought for their
rightful seat on board the train, Alison realised her dreadful mistake.
The mixture of cigarette smoke, cheap perfume, and his cloying
after-shave made her head throb with confusion.
Rather than filling her with tremendous lust as they had before, the
images of them pulling frantically at each other's clothes, desperate
for the intoxicating waves of passion to overcome them, had now
conjured feelings of disgust and nausea.
What had she done?
Fresh tears prickled her eyes and she turned and ran from the platform.
His protest at her sudden actions, confused, then outraged boomed after
The suitcase, which had seen better days, lay at his feet. The crowd,
distracted momentarily from their wrestling of bags and other
passengers, quickly resumed their activities as Malcolm stood among
them cursing for them to "get out of my fucking way!"
He attempted, with little success to chase after Alison, kicking the
suitcase out of his way.
The cold wind and rain lashed her face as she dashed out of the
stifling train station. With a quick glance behind her to check he was
not coming, she started to run. A painful twist of her ankle encouraged
Alison to kick of the heels she was wearing and continued bare foot
through the slick pavements towards Park Wood Avenue. As she hobbled on
the aching ankle, only one thought flashed through her mind. Get the
letter. If I can just get home before Andrew...
The white transit van screeched down Park Avenue. (Witnesses walking on
the street would later say that it was doing over sixty, nearly
knocking a deliveryman off his bike.)
With the letter still clutched in his fist, Andrew steered one-handed
towards Milward train station. The constant stream of hot tears ran
uncontrollably down his face, scalding his cheeks. The window wipers
swished back and fourth sending obese droplets of rain into the air.
The radio that had bought a smile to his lips earlier still boomed out
of the speakers, only he could not hear it. Only the loud, infantile
sobbing from his shaking body was audible to him now.
With a clenched fist, holding the crumpled letter, he wiped
aggressively at his streaming eyes.
As it approached the traffic lights leading off Park Wood Avenue, the
white transit van bellowed a cloud of black exhaust fumes and
accelerated through a red light.
Reaching in her bag for the mobile phone that was sending shrill,
annoying Simpson's theme music around the car, Sally took her eyes off
the road for a split second.
The ringing of her mobile, and the deafening screeching of tyres would
be the last sounds Sally Johnson would ever hear again as a white
transit van rammed her red mini violently, smashing it into the metal
barriers on the side of the street.
As people gathered to watch, the sound of Andrew's stereo blasted out
loud, disco beats to the hissing of his leaking radiator. The ambulance
and police vehicles added shrill sirens to this macabre collaboration
With a sense of new-found hope, Alison took great gasps of air to
steady her breathing. Turning the corner, she fumbled in her handbag
for the house keys. There was not much time. Andrew would be home soon,
she chastised herself.
With that, an ambulance came thundering past her, startling her from
Watching with morbid fascination, as most people did, she stared after
it. When it stopped not far down the road, she heard music, just
audible beneath the sound of the emergency vehicles.
With the sprained ankle forgotten, Alison ran, barefooted to whatever
monstrosity waited her.
The policeman watched her from the hallway. His head ached with the
enormity of what he had to tell her.
The cigarette smoke was thick and hung like a filthy halo above her
head. She seemed to devour the cancerous sticks he thought, then
reasoned that she had been through a lot. Her face looked clownish, all
streaks and smeared lipstick. He reached into his pocket and pulled out
a tissue. Trying not to look down at her feet (what on earth had she
been doing?), he handed it to her.
Taking the tissue, Alison dabbed at her sore eyes.
Her mind seemed to want to fold in on itself, to shy away from what had
Her Andrew had gone. Andrew had gone? ANDREW HAD GONE
Alison felt herself being lifted from the ground. Stunned, she lashed
"You were getting hysterical miss" the policeman towered above her. "I
think you should try and calm down".
" I have to get home" she said, "There is something I need to
Heading for the door, still barefoot, she thought of the letter. If I
can just get rid of it. It will never have happened. A hand stopped
The policeman reached into his pocket, casting his gaze at something on
his left shoe. He handed her a crumpled, blooded letter, his eyes still
mesmerised by an invisible stain on his foot.
The letter was put into her hand.
A strange pressure crushed her chest and Alison fell to her
He had read the letter...My Andrew had read the letter...
With the pressure in her chest threatening to crush her, she reflected
on what his last thoughts had been before he died.
I don't know how I can begin to tell you this, so I will just say it
I do not love you anymore.
I have met someone else. Someone who makes me happy and I want to be
with him. I must be with him. You can not give me what I need, what I
So I am leaving you.
I can't bear to be without him so I am leaving Sheffield to go with
I think you know who it is.
I think you had your suspicions at the Christmas party. Its you boss,
I am so sorry,
Don't try and find me, I don't want to be found. Just get on with your
Letting herself into the house on Park Wood Avenue, she entered the
hall and closed the front door.
As she walked into the living room, a photograph greeted her from atop
The picture she had chosen not to look at when leaving the house
earlier, had become her only souvenir of the life they had once