Where the hell is she?
It’s gone half nine and a niggle of worry rumbles in my gut. A vision of Abi on a hospital trolley flashes through my mind. I shove it away. I’m being silly. Worrying unnecessarily. I’m sure she’s fine.
I snatch up my phone and hit the redial button, willing her to answer, hoping for a slurred apology and the sound of music thumping in the background. At least I would know she was safe.
I listen to a long hiss-filled silence, the blood gushing through my ears.
And for a split second, I dare to believe I’m through.
‘You’ve reached Abigail Pilkington-Hutton. I can’t take your call right now but leave a message.’
I slump in my chair and pinch the bridge of my nose as I ring off, my heart beating a little faster and a little harder. A kaleidoscope of images of my wife’s body dumped by the side of the road, bleeding, lifeless, her eyes staring blankly, spiral through my head.
I refuse to be that husband. She’s perfectly capable of looking after herself. She’s not a child. And yet, I can’t help but worry.
Of course, the lasagne’s ruined. A fiery blast stings my face as I flip open the oven door. I step back to let the curls of steam rush towards the ceiling and peer inside despondently at the charred remains. Shavings of Parmesan cheese are blackened beyond salvation and crusty tracks of meat sauce have bubbled up and hardened over the sides of the ceramic dish. It’s as good as cremated, even though I turned the heat down hours ago.
I slam the door shut. Wasting good food irks me, especially when I’ve put effort into cooking. It’s not as if it’s one of those vile cardboard-tasting ready meals, straight out of a packet. It’s an authentic Italian recipe from a dusty old cookbook I picked up in a secondhand bookstore in town. I used a pinch of rosemary and cubes of pan-fried pancetta for the ragu and a sprinkling of nutmeg in the bechamel sauce. A surprise treat to celebrate the end of Abi’s trial.
I’ve lost count of the number of evenings and weekends she’s given up working on the case. The missed bedtime stories with the girls. The hours going through witness statements “one more time”. After everything she’s sacrificed over the last couple of months, I thought tonight we could spend some time together.
But she’s not come home and her phone’s off.