The white vest top from Toni’s drawer fit like my own, but the jacket hung loose, gaping at the front. The freedom of no bra whilst in my work armour, mixed two worlds never meant to be together. Toni’s was no option, rattling around in her giant structure would be worse. Running my hand down my stomach, it was almost concave and I hated the way the material pulled, the fit as I stared in the mirror, my first lapse in control since I’d been a teenager. Still, I was ready to meet the world again, ready to share my story, even in what I was wearing.
The shower stopped running and I stared out of the window, my eyes following the tops of the olive drab trucks on the motorway. At the sound of the bathroom door opening wide, I busied myself with a brush through my hair, despite having already preened it to perfection.
Turning when she hadn’t arrived, I found her leaning on the door frame, a towel hanging from her armpits to halfway down her thighs. With her hair wrapped in another towel, her eyes narrowed as she stared back with a sweet smile, teeth digging in to her bottom lip. The smile rose as I took a step. Toni pulled in a breath and walked past me, only turning as she arrived beside the bed.
“You should get something else to eat,” she said shaking the towel loose on her head and rubbing it against her hair with her left hand. “You’re losing weight.”
I watched as she ran the towel over her hair, her eyes on me, but only for a moment. She turned away, pulling the larger towel tight around her upper body. Only lingering for a moment, I shook away my thoughts and meandered down the stairs, staring out of the window as I landed. It wasn’t until I noticed the bucket and sponge by the front door that I turned back through the window and saw the van white again. By the bucket was a pair of red heels, my size, I could tell without having to look inside. She was a four, I was a five. I was bigger in every way, but one way. They must have been mine, I was sure, until a thought crept in. They could be someone else’s. Without time for my mind to ask questions I didn’t want to answer, my stomach urged me back to the fridge and flicking on the TV as I passed, I made another two sandwiches, setting one aside.
There was no rolling news, no stories breaking through the seasonal films. The scoop was still mine to break. For now.
“What day is it?” I said as I heard her feet on the stairs.
“New year’s eve,” she replied with no smile in her voice, no smile on her face as she landed at the bottom in jeans and a t-shirt. “You found the shoes,” she replied looking down to my feet, shaking her head as I offered out the sandwich on a plate. “I’ve eaten.”
“Mine?” I said without thought, my heart pounding in my ears as the words slipped out. Her smile went wide, her teeth glistening as they bared, her face alight with joy at my question. She nodded, turning away, only coming back as the smile faded to a shadow in the corners of her lips. I had to wait, not wanting the relief to show in my voice and ate the other sandwich, controlling my movements with each bite. “I’m a little over dressed,” I said with a smile, hoping and not, she’d tell me to take it off.
“You want to film this, right?” she snapped. I nodded, turning back towards the kitchen. The remains of her smile flattened.
“What now?” I said, looking away, my mind drifting away to the early days when I saw her. We couldn’t bear to be apart for so long, couldn’t have been naked so close without having to spend the next hour scratching each other’s itch. Warmth filled my cheeks as tried to push away the thoughts, but her cold, strict tone did the job for me.
“There’s another facility on the edge of Dartmoor. A place called Willsworthy. You know it?”
I shook my head, remembering how it always changed. A phone call, either mine or hers, and it was like something snapped. A fight would start. I’d take the blame, but they were mostly her fault. Maybe she would say the same, but she’d be wrong. I could feel the warmth inside me turning cold as I stared at her as she went around the tiny room, picking up things and squaring the place up. We had to get out of here before the inevitable.
“Are we going or what?” I said heading to the front door.
“You’re ready now, right?” she replied and I pulled it open, sliding on the heels, letting the cold breeze wash away the building anger as the door slammed at my back.
The roads were empty, we’d agreed in our short few words we’d avoid it like the plague, both of us silently regretting the phrase. With each shop we came across closed, Toni’s frustration grew, claiming she couldn’t get the supplies she wouldn’t disclose. Each of the shops had a sign telling people who’d dared to brave the chemical leak it was why they weren’t open. We’d travelled maybe half the distance we’d covered on the motorway getting away from the place, when we came across the independent petrol station on our left, barely a hut, with pumps from the sixties, when Toni told me with a single sharp phrase, to pull over. I nearly didn’t, nearly decided it was time for her attitude to stop, but my will relented at the last minute and I pulled the van under the shallow canopy.
“Wait here,” she said, ignoring my protests, the place locked up, like the others. My heart raced as I watched out of the passenger window as she pulled a screwdriver from her pocket and levered open the front door like she’d been doing it for years. I watched on, almost feeling the need to get the camera out and film the robbery in progress. As I sat, simmering, my attention turned to a tap at my window. I jumped in my seat as I saw a policeman, his hand slapping at the glass, his split wide finger leaving a trail of thick blood as it returned to take a second hit. His white, clouded eyes stared straight into mine as he gave a low growl.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.