THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ERIN HALL
‘Keep a distance, you idle dog’, she said steadily and with a voice that seemed to belong to someone else. He held his hand in front of his chest, burning from the sudden strike it had just received. ‘I have kept my silence and good humour while we were in the company of our respectable friends, but that does not mean that I have forgiven you in any sort of way’. He tried a shocked face that looked more like a mask than an expression. ‘And,’ she continued, ‘I don’t believe that you think me stupid enough to grant you the right to hold my hand while we are alone now, do you?”
She turned around and kept walking in a slow pace, confident that the tone of her voice will keep him away. It worked. He reduced the speed of his steps considerably and was left to watch her velvet black frock upsetting the dirt of the road and creating a small cloud of dust behind her. She looked like a witch, he thought, emerging from a dark forest to a world of unguarded humans. He loved her now more passionately than ever and his hands trembled with the desire to embrace her waist.
At the end of the path, right behind the tall gate, they were a couple of black cabs and two private cars, waiting to take the party guests to their houses. He saw the cab driver holding her gloved hand as she disappeared on the back seat of one of the cabs, and opened his mouth to shout at her to wait, but, remembering her words, closed his mouth again and continued walking. He would take another cab, he told himself, and truly it didn’t matter so much, as they would both end up on the same house. To this speculation, he was wretchedly and thoroughly mistaken.
Upon opening the apartment door, Andrew Hall instantly knew that Erin had not returned home yet. The first sign was that the lights were still off, but the second and most definite one was that the cat came to his feet and meowed lovingly. There was no chance if Erin was home for this momma-loving tomcat to be anywhere near him. He picked up Mister Plumpington (a name that only she could give to the poor beast) and stroke him gently, while turning the house alive again with lights and radio.
Once he was seated on the couch, he could clearly see, in his mind’s eye, Erin, with her flirty luxurious voice, telling the cab driver to just drive around the city for a while if he may, or she could even bid him to take her to a bar and wait outside until she reckoned it will be enough time for him, her poor husband, to become crazy with jealousy. Of course, he also knew that by calling himself ‘her poor husband’ the problem that caused Erin to burst tonight would not go away, but he was not willing to give in and admit any blame, not even to himself, oh, no, he was perfectly ready for an all-nighter fight, with her screaming and with him silently emptying a bottle of wine. He even picked it up and placed it in the coffee table, along with a glass. He was ready. And he waited.
Twenty eight days later, Andrew was still sitting on the couch; Mister Plumpington was turning into Mister Skelington on his feet, the bottle of wine was starting to grow little grape leaves and petioles around it and the radio was playing all the 50’s hit songs backwards. Erin Hall had not returned and the frightened husband now knew all too well that he had committed the ultimate crime: He had made the writer so angry with his equable manners and nonchalant style, that he had pushed Erin out of the book. He was alone, in a metafiction story, like the ones he despised so much but were seemingly very popular amongst the general audience.
He wanted to change his story, go back to the page where he started courting the young nurse from his clinic department and erase that blonde paramour completely. If only he could make the writer somehow realise that it wasn’t his fault, not really. The writer was the one that put her there. He had no choice but to flirt with her and, well, when she flirted back he wouldn’t just stand there without anything now, would he? He was a very sexual man after all- the writer made him like this, it wasn’t his fault.
‘Do you hear me? It is not my fault. You created me!’, he shouted to the ceiling, not knowing where else to look. He noticed that the ceiling had now a big hole and that he could see the sky through it. It was midnight.
‘Why are you doing this? This doesn’t even make sense anymore. What do you want from me?’
Andrew closed his eyes and rested his head on the couch arm. He felt defeated.
The writer triumphantly snickered and turned off the laptop. He walk towards the bedroom with a smug smile on his face, thinking that he had finally managed to control his main character. Andrew was so scared that he would do anything from now on. He would be that good boy. But the writer was going to keep tormenting him, just for a little bit more. Just a few more pages of absurd happenings with no meaning whatsoever, until he was completely broken.
The writer never knew that when the writing tutor said to him ‘do not worry too much because after a while the characters take the matters into their own hands’, he meant it literally. Andrew was trouble from the beginning but he couldn’t just erase him, he was his main. So, he did the next best thing.
Turning on the switch of the bedroom, he gazed at Erin, twirling in her sleep, clearly annoyed by the presence of the sudden light. He turned it off and stepped into the darkness to go and lie next to her.