If Sally had known what lay at the bottom of her garden; if she had known what was about to happen to her on that quiet, spring, Sunday morning, then she would have given in to Jerry’s pathetic attempts to have hangover-sex with her. It wouldn’t have been pleasant: unshaven, beer-smelling gropings, but it would have saved her life.
'Jerry! Just stop it now, will you?'
'What?' He sounded hurt, though he was still slurring from the regular Saturday-night binge.
'Poking me in the back with that thing. It’s a cliché, not a turn on.'
She lay there, listening to his breathing for a few minutes, felt a bit guilty if she was honest with herself. Sunday morning was almost religiously a big cuddle morning. It was just that, although she’d been careful to drink only a little alcohol last night: two glasses of white wine in three hours, she still felt terribly nauseous and (despite what a tiny minority of the population thought) in Sally’s book, sex and pain do not go well together.
'I’m not being mean, Jerry,' she said. 'I really don’t feel like it. We were drinking ‘til three.'
'I was drinking ‘til three. You slept from half one. You didn’t even see the end of the film.' He still sounded like a wounded animal though there was a hint of petulance in there too, and that irritated her.
'Yeah,' she said, sitting up quickly, and then regretting it, knowing that the sight of her naked would hardly help. 'But when I did wake up and insist we went to bed, who poured me another drink?'
'And who wouldn’t drink it?'
Sally slipped her legs out of bed and snatched at a yellow, cotton running-vest that was close to hand. She was in no mood for this.
'Where are you going?' Jerry whined.
'I’m going for a pee,' she snapped, pulling the vest over her head and pulling her thick, ash-blonde hair through the neck-hole. 'Is that alright?' She didn’t try to hide the anger although she doubted it would register.
'Do one for me,' he said, confirming her suspicion. 'I’m busting.'
Sally strode across the bare, wooden boards on the landing and into the bathroom. At least we’re making progress in here, she thought, looking at the burgundy suite and the half finished tiling. She sat on the toilet and leaned forwards to turn on the cold tap of the bidet. She let it gush a while and then splashed water onto her face. It had the desired effect – it always did: her bladder instantly let go. She wondered what would happen if they ever moved house and she didn’t have a bidet. Would she be unable to pee anymore? What had started as a useful expedient had developed into quite a habit. She took a handful of the cold water and swished it around her mouth before spitting expertly into the bowl. She then took another handful which she swallowed. The inevitable droplets splashed down her vest. When she was done she wiped herself, checked the tissue for blood (a new habit but one she suspected would endure) and walked back into the bedroom to see what progress Jerry had made.
He had made none .
'Come on, Jerry,' she insisted. 'Get up. I want a day in the garden today. You promised last night.'
A heavy groan came from the bed and then his face turned towards her. 'But, Sal, it’s Sunday.'
'You know, Sunday?'
'You’re in no fit state and besides, we’re gardening.'
His features pinched together. Sally hoped she wasn’t going to have to get nasty. 'But,' he started to whine again. 'You’ve got a wet tee-shirt and everything.'
'Right!' she said, stepping forwards and pulling the Aztec-patterned covers right off him. He instinctively covered himself with cupped hands. 'We’ll make a deal,' she said. 'You get that up in ten seconds and I’ll come back to bed. What do you say?'
His face was a picture. It was all Sally could do to keep hers straight. She felt a grin starting to take hold. 'Nine,' she said to cover it.
'Oh, come on,' he pleaded. 'Be reasonable.'
Suddenly his face changed, took on a serious look. He closed both his eyes and put his hands flat on the bed by his side. Sally could hardly believe he was actually trying .
'Two,' she said.
His face pinched even tighter.
'Time’s up, let’s have a look.' She sat on the bed and made as if to examine him. Jerry pulled the covers up quickly to hide himself. 'You’ve embarrassed me now,' he said.
'I’ll get the spades,' said Sally.