Short Story: Collection Day

Beep beep beep beep.

What is that noise?

Beep beep beep beep.

There it goes again. Repeating. Reverberating around the blackness. A mosquito in the night.

I swat at it. Nothing happens.

Beep beep beep, VRROOOM.

My eyes flicker open as an engine roars outside my bedroom window. Collection day. How could have forgotten?

I tear the duvet from the bed and swing my legs off the side, my feet greeting the rough carpet with that early morning hyper-sensitivity that I always seem to get. The bed next to me is empty – cold, undisturbed. She never came home last night. I grimace as I stand, a pain in my side bursting through my nerves. I reach down to touch it, it’s tender – bruised.

How did that happen?

Beep beep beep, CLANG.

It’s collection day. Right.

I pull on my shorts and grab at a t-shirt but it’s wet. Soaked in fact, though I don’t remember washing it? It also never rains during a Californian summer. The room is dark, early morning, but I pick my way across debris and discarded clothing none the less. I must have been drunk last night. As I round the bed a lamp is lying on the floor, broken, sad. I liked that lamp. The height of the dresser it stood on matches where my bruise on my side is and I sigh, another drunken injury.

Fourth one this week.

The raucous lorry outside is getting closer, I can hear the bin guys voices now. They laugh, jeering, mocking. Crash. A bin is emptied. I make my way downstairs, the house is empty and the wooden rail on the stairs is cold to touch. Everything is quiet. As I make my way past the short runner with family pictures on and the oak bookcase – which was a little too large for the hall – I spot something odd. A pair of shoes. Her shoes. Lying, despondent in the middle of the hallway. They seem lost, abandoned – owner less. My head aches as I rack my brains trying to remember last night, but only a faint whisper of memory returns. Perfume. Her perfume? Maybe she was here last night.

Why can’t I remember more?

The empty bottles of vodka on the kitchen units offer an unwelcome explanation. Provided with the reason, my head begins to ache. Hangover. Ouch. The kitchen is a mess, bottles strewn across the side, vodka spilt and still dripping by the sink. There is all sorts on the floor. I follow the trail. Home phone, car keys, broken bottle, lip stick.. Lipstick? Hers. She definitely was here last night.

I slip. Floors wet. Grabbing out and steadying myself against the work top. My head spinning, as I reach up to cradle my pulsing temple I scuff my lip. Clumsy, but also sore. The skin is swollen, split on the left side. Did we fight? It would explain her absence and the state I am in right now. I’ll ring her. I’ll find out and we can sort it out once and for all.

But, it’s collection day. Can’t miss collection day.

Against my initial instincts, I continue outside and drag my bin around to the front for the laughing, mocking bin guys to collect.

As I enter the front yard one of them approaches. Just in time. 

“Morning”

I give a friendly little wave, feeling myself swaying from the lasting effects of last nights bingeOh. That’s right, I remember now.

The bin man approaches.

I remember coming in and her being here. Ready to talk, still in her work outfit. I had been in the bar since two am. Or was it pm? I have no idea.

The bin man raises his hand to wave back, but his polite greeting fades in his throat.

I was drunk, obviously. So she got angry. She hit me. My split lip.

The bin man stops where he is. Lazy, I think, as I begin to trundle my bin towards him.

She went into the kitchen. Then things get hazy. Fighting, arguing. Anger, so much anger.

The bin catches on something on the floor and falls side ways, it’s lid opens and it’s contents are cast out onto my lawn.

The bottle. It breaks when it hits her head.

I remember. 

Her body lies half in, half out of the bin. I look at the bin man, he looks at me. I then looks down at my hands. Covered in blood from my t-shirt. Soaked from cleaning her up, not from the wash. My feet as well, crimson ink splashed and smeared up my leg from where I slipped in the kitchen. I must have missed a spot.

I look back at the bin man – frozen to the spot. The others are approaching, wondering what is going on.

Well, this is awkward.

I kneel down and force the body back into the bin, righting it. The bin man still stands there – aghast.

I smile politely and nod my head to him and his colleagues.

“I apologise. Just recycling today, right?”

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