Blueberry - Part Two
By Jane Hyphen
Sandra had a faith which fell somewhere between medium and strong. She thought of herself as lightly Christian and when she needed help, her faith upgraded to strong. A few whispered words passed her lips, a plea to a higher power, then she opened her eyes, the panic dissipated and she was able to think more clearly.
She sat on the spinney office chair and lifted up her trouser leg and inspected the wound, two puncture marks, quite deep and feeling painful now. There was a box of tissues on the desk and she pulled a few out and flattened them against the injury, tucking them into her sock and letting her trouser back down.
‘Blueberry,’ she whispered sadly, ‘Blueberry, Blueberry, Blueberry.’
It felt as if the dog had been sent to her as some sort of punishment, a lesson from which she must learn something. Looking around, she felt a strong sense that this was Ben’s office, not Thomas’s. It was stark, no clutter, everything neatly placed, a few books about motivation and clean eating. Thomas was a nature lover, a comfort seeker, he would have had houseplants and at least a few cushions or even a teddy. She recalled something her son had once told her about doing his job at a little desk in the kitchen so that he could be close to Blueberry.
Sandra noticed that the shadow on the other side of the door had moved away. She crouched down and put her head on the carpet. Blueberry had shifted to another position about five feet away and she was lying down but Sandra’s gaze unsettled her and she returned to the door and let out a single bark, deep and threatening. She shifted on her huge paws and Sandra sighed and got up, she considered writing a letter of goodbye to her loved ones, then laughed and shook her head.
The small window looked out on the fence, above which was a tall hedge in the neighbouring property, the little window at the top opened about five inches. Sandra pushed it but it was stiff and a flurry of cold air entered the room. She called out a couple of times, ‘Help. Help, can anybody hear me?’ but her voice sounded pathetic and the air outside felt almost as hostile as Blueberry so she slammed it shut and buried her face in her hands.
The folded laptop in front of her seemed like the second best option for saving her, after God who might just be able to immobilise Blueberry with some sort of seizure or heart attack. But Sandra was apprehensive about opening Ben’s laptop. She was fearful that he might receive an instant notification that his equipment was being tampered with, the camera might capture her image, her face, pinched and meddlesome; the archetypal mother in law.
There was another reason for her apprehension, one that she held deep inside where it clung on hard like a limpet. Rather like Blueberry, her son’s sexuality and his relationship with Ben wasn’t something which she had fully realised, it felt unreal, like a mythe, a novelty without any real meaning. She just couldn’t shake it. Her words to Thomas had always been, ‘I accept it, Thomas, but I don’t like it and I’m not going to lie to you and say that I do.’
As a consequence of this half measured acceptance, Thomas had become emotionally disengaged from his mother. He continued to love her but he funnelled his feelings so that only the essential part of his love got through. This was to protect himself from further pain and rejection.
Sandra was beginning to feel thirsty and experience the early pangs of hunger. It was chilly in the office now that the initial panic had left her body, taking some of her internal warmth with it. She glanced around, looking for some sort of heater, there was nothing but just next to the printer she noticed a framed photograph. It was of Thomas and Ben sitting next to a rock, somewhere high, perhaps a mountain top, in front of them was Blueberry, grinning, appearing as if she’d won the lottery of doggy adoptions. It occurred to Sandra how happy they looked, especially Thomas, he looked happier than she’d remembered seeing him face to face for a very long time, perhaps even since he was a young child.
She thought about her husband, Mike, he’d be home now from the school run, probably watching some television, BBC news 24, putting the world to rights, probably with a doughnut in front of him. Mike had remained completely passive about their son’s relationship with Ben and had passed no comment in regard to the matter. Sandra had wondered whether he was very good at hiding his true feelings or he genuinely didn’t care. She had a feeling that he didn’t really care but why did she care so much, was it disappointment and if so, why?
The three beings in the photograph were a family, just like her daughter Lorna with her husband and children. Sandra felt a wrack of guilt inside her. Suddenly she was disturbed by the sound of some mail being shoved through the letterbox. Blueberry got up and trotted down the hall to the front door but she didn’t bark, she only made a loud sniffing sound as her nose read the multitude of scents on the envelopes. ‘Hey, help, help me!’ Sandra called out but it was too late, the postman was already three doors down. It felt to her as if a ship had passed by and she’d missed it, only to remain stranded.
She didn’t even know what the time was, with no phone and no watch, nothing to do except think. It could have been eleven or it could have been three in the afternoon. Her stomach told her it was sometime between twelve and one.
Blueberry was now pacing up and down the hallway, she even let out a plaintive whimper. There was no way Sandra was opening the door, there had been too many people killed by dogs in the news, dogs with soppy names, cute dogs with sad, silly faces but strong jaws and a will of their own. There was nothing else for it, she had to open the laptop, find some way to send an email but her prejudice made her worried about what she might find. For some absurd reason she imagined there would be photographs of naked men and they would jump out at her from the screen.
She closed her eyes tight and opened the laptop but there was only a photo of a deserted beach and a password prompt.