He couldn’t get the screams out of his head. Over and over again they played; and when he closed his eyes they just got louder.
He knew that he should have turned away.
But he hadn’t, and it was a decision that he’d live with for the rest of his life.
Sweat beaded his brow, trickling down the side of his three day stubbled face. Impatiently he rubbed it away and ran on. His feet pounding the pavement, reprehensive beats now where before the sound had cheered him on.
He choose a different route. A shorter one, one that suited his temper these last three days.
Guilt was causing him to snap, strain etched on his face and kept his eyes focused on the bumpy plasterwork of his bedroom ceiling, long after his beautiful wife had fallen into easy slumber.
He envied her peace, her innocence.
Try as he might, he couldn’t wash it away. So he didn’t run.
Instead he choose to hide.
Running didn’t clear his head like it used to and the shower no longer left him clean.
He couldn’t eat, preferring to purge the memory from him with hunger. To punish himself for turning a blind eye.
A shriek! He clattered his cup onto the counter, coffee bleeding across the counter towards his wife. She reached for the kettle, silencing its scream before tossing the dishcloth in his direction.
Mopping up was messy. He knew that now.
Messier than he thought it would be. He hadn’t realised how sticky blood was. Or how it’s metallic tang could be tasted on the air.
Throwing himself across the kitchen he vomited into the sink. Horrified she reached for him, but pushed away by his outstretched arms she fell back into her seat.
It had taken her hours to fall asleep last night. Hours.
He’d waited until her breath became rhythm, until her grip on the duvet had slackened before he slipped silently away.
Shaking as the match flared, he pulled the smoke deep into his lungs.
He hadn’t smoked in five years, and it scorched comfort as it went, releasing the tension from his shoulders, the knots from his neck. It was an urge he hadn’t anticipating returning.
Much like the one that sickened him in the first place.
An itch that requires, demands scratching.