Blood thumps in her ears

The storm drives rain against the window, turns to hail cracking against the glass, elbowing its noisy rudeness into her sleep. Waking her, befuddled, drowsed.

She rolls over, into the empty space beside her. Fingers gently claw the still warm sheet. Dragging herself upright, she reaches for the bedside lamp. Click. Nothing. The darkness is absolute. She slips from the bed to feel her way to the window, stumbling over discarded clothes, banging against the dresser, cursing the blackness, swearing at the storm.

Stormy night seen through a window

Yanking aside the curtain, she sees only water streaming down the glass. Beyond are storm-ridden shadows of louring clouds and windswept trees. No friendly light anywhere.

Turning her back to the wind and hail, she calls. ‘John? Where are you?’

Lightning is the only answer to her call. She touches the walls to guide her to the open door. Her phone, with its welcome torch, is in the kitchen. There are candles, matches down there. An urgency to bring light to the house rises inside her. She could return to bed, let the storm pass over, ignore its threats. But where is her husband?

‘John,’ she calls again.

And now she hears the sound. Bang, bang, bang. Consistent, steady. The storm has loosened something, a tile, a pipe, outside … She knows it’s not so. The bang, bang, bang rises up the stairs, across the landing, into the bedroom where she stands, hand on the frame. The noise is inside the house.

She listens. Blood thuds in her ears.


The banging stops with an abruptness which makes her start. Only the wind, the rain … for a heartbeat, two. And then, breathing. Outside the bedroom, close.

‘John?’ Her voice trembles. She searches for anger, that he could play this terrifying game. Instead she finds fear.

She backs away, pulse beating, chest heaving.

The bedside light flicks on and she sees him. Framed in the doorway.

Not John.

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4 thoughts on “Blood thumps in her ears”


    Her legs feel like lead as she forces herself to take yet another step. Which one of her friends said marathons were a piece of cake.
    Forty-two kilometres, begun brightly enough but now she was experiencing the worst agonies ever imagined.
    Push on girl, the end is nigh, not far to go now. Blood thuds in her ears. She can feel her heart pumping hard with the required effort to make her body move that little bit more.
    Head drooping, arms swaying uncontrollably, others overtake her. She no longer cares where she comes in the race – as long as she finishes.
    The pistons that have propelled to this point suddenly stop and she sinks to the ground, struggling for breath.
    Officials rush to her aid, but she waves them away. Looking up, she can see the finishing line – crowds cheering as each runner crosses with arms raised.
    I can do this. She crawls on hands and knees, her subconscious iron will pushing her forward.
    She vaguely hears words of encouragement. “Come on, Melissa, you are nearly there – only a few more metres.”
    Regaining her feet, she stumbles a few more steps before collapsing again. The finishing line is agonisingly close. Clawing her way, she looks up at the bright sunshine, people’s concerned faces peering down as paramedics rush to her aid, whisking her to a waiting ambulance and medical relief.
    Finally regaining her composure, Melissa pulled off the oxygen mask and looked at her helpers.
    “Did I finish?” she inquired anxiously, concern furrowing her brow.
    “Yes, you did, girl, yes you did. An absolutely marvellous effort. Particularly as this was your first one and you didn’t even bother to train for it.”

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