He was waiting for her when she arrived home, barefoot and wet hair. He, in not much better condition, the edges of his trousers sodden and damp sand deposited throughout the living room.
She knew immediately something was wrong. That somehow he knew.
"Where the fuck have you been?"
One short question with a single curse word stopped her in her tracks, had her reeling, wondering what to say? What to do? Where go go? There was no hiding from this.
"I wagged class and went for a swim. Gonna take a shower."
As she made a half turn to walk away from him, he rose from his chair and hit her hard on her right cheek, knocking her to the ground and spilling the contents of her shoulder bag.
"Dave for fuck's sake. I just went for a swim, what is wrong with you."
Iris was stunned, her hand held against a growing red welt on her cheek. He'd NEVER hit her, never. Perhaps this time she deserved it. He knelt beside her and put his hands hard on her shoulders, pushing her down onto her back on the cold wooden floor. He straddled her and with one hand across her mouth began undoing his trousers. She flayed at him with her arms and mumbled indiscernible abuse through his hand. He was furious, she'd never seen such anger in his eyes.
"Fucking bitch. I gave you everything. I allowed you to do everything, and this is how you repay me? You lie, you deceive, you let some lesbian bitch do what you never let me do! "
She's struggled wildly and managed to connect a knee to his crotch and he released his grip momentarily. She rolled from beneath him and crawled towards the door, trying to rise as he lunge at her, pulling her down by the hem of her shirt. They scrambled, limbs flying and fighting. She hit him in the chest and lashed out with tanned legs. He bent his forearm across her throat and pinned her down until something clicked and he reneged. He was left kneeling, exhausted, confused at the animal he'd become. She lay still, breathing heavily and stunned that he'd ever do anything like this.
"Dave . . ."
"Shut the fuck up. Just shut up."
He wiped his mouth with his hand but the slow burn of hate hate had already begun in his heart. He's never flashed like that. For a moment, he wanted to kill her, snuff her out like a candle flame between wet fingers, but he couldn't. The silence while they collected themselves was palpable. She, sunk into the depths of shame and he simply in a state of abject disbelief that he could have had such thoughts about the woman he supposedly loved.
He picked himself up and pulled up his fly. "Get out. Just pack your things and get out." Then disappeared, slamming the front door behind him.
Iris knew better than to argue. It's her fault, he clearly saw, and she's hurt him beyond belief. Crazy thing, she didn't feel an ounce of guilt and realised that she wasn't in love with him anymore. He bored her but until this, he'd been a safe bet, a good provider and easy to get on with. She wasn't in love with Dianne either, it was just a moment in time, an experiment, a brief infatuation. It was awesome, it was frightening, it was outrageous. Now, things are looking up, she has permission to leave her dreary, cow-stenched life and go back to where she belongs. And if she's lucky, Dianne might come with her.
Dianne's face betrayed her inner joy at 'mission accomplished.'
"She's good," Dianne studies a slightly chipped, painted red fingernail while nonchalantly talking to a male voice on the other end of the phone.
"Oh she'll do it, she just left her husband, doesn't know a soul. No skills other than retail and pole. Won't take much to push her over. She'll do it."
"You're a clever girl Di." The male voice clearly appreciative of his protege's recruitment efforts. "She looks good in the photos, just need to break her in."
"Yes I am Joe. I'm very good at what I do, but it's time to end it. She starts, I leave. That's the deal."
"You got it baby. If she measures up. You're free. Debt paid, nothin' else to talk about."
"See you Saturday Joe. Be there." No sooner has she hung up and there's a text message from Iris.
Dianne needs this. She needs the stupid country girl to come with her. She needs to be absolutely sure there's nothing left for Iris in Wiseman's. The marriage is over, she's sure of that. Poor poppet messaged asking to stay but . . Dianne put her off.
The polished red nails speedily navigate her iPhone.
"No, better if you don't stay with me. What if your crazed husband comes over. Go ask Reya if you can hang with her and we'll leave Saturday morning. I'll pick you up. Just be cool for a couple of days. It'll be alright."
The indignation in Reya's voice is more than disappointment, it's shock and awe.
"What for? What happened? I thought you were happy here, finding yourself. Having fun? It's that bloody tramp Dianne isn't it. Putting silly ideas of fame and fortune into your head 'Oh' Iris, you've got such a lovely body . . Oh you'd make thousands dancing in a city club' . . I can just imagine the bullshit she's imprinted on your churlish, nihilistic brain. You used to be a sweet girl, a good wife, a great help. A few weeks with this trumped up tramp and you've turned into an idiot"
"Reya," Iris chose her words carefully, as she wasn't expecting a tirade and wondered why Raya was so vindictive, "He's thrown me out. He saw something he shouldn't and he's mad as hell. It was over before but, it's definitely done now. I'm going back to the city. Dianne . . ." "Don't you talk to me about that woman Iris. I warned you about her. I'm just . . "
Reya reins in the emotion, barely believing that this girl is about to repeat history.
"Iris, It's your life. When are you leaving?"
"Well, I was hoping, perhaps I could stay with you until Saturday, I just need a day to collect my stuff. I suppose I should talk to Dave. He was furious last night, wouldn't talk to me at all. I spent the night on the couch."
Reya felt a little ashamed of her outburst. She had no real right to tell this girl what to do and with whom. Perhaps staying over would give her a chance to talk, get to know her better, convince her that the decision she's making may not be for the best.
"Of course, Iris, you can stay as long as you want. Now, get to it and unpack those boxes over there."
Muse 1 "The Seventh Goddess"
Muse 2 "The Forensics of Spume"
Muse 3 "The Way of the North"
Muse 4 "Virginal Zoophilia"
Muse 5: "Stakes and Lies
Muse 6: "A Meal of Her Loins"
Muse 7: "Controlled Burn"
Muse 8: "Ghastly Truths"
Muse 9: "To Bury a Mountain"