LAUREN LAWLER’s life is visually perfect. However husband Niall seems to have forgotten she exists. Running a Vintage shop on Ebay and meeting her best friend Monique for coffee and shopping, Lauren feels settled but bored. Collecting her nine year old son Joe from school one day, she discovers that the new mum at the gates is her old school foe Bettina.
Lauren is initially wary, but encouraged by Niall, attempts to be friendly, getting involved with the school’s summer fair so that Bettina can meet other parents. This throws Lauren into working with Seb, an outwardly nerdy looking teacher who turns out to be a hidden attraction. As Niall continues to be distant, Seb’s attentions become ever more tempting.
Bettina says she is back escaping a violent husband, but best friend Monique doesn’t buy it and warns Lauren to be careful.
As a vendetta threatens everything Lauren has taken for granted, she has to discover who she can trust. But how much does anyone ever really know about those around them, what’s underneath?
Driven by adrenaline, my hands won’t stop shaking as I turn off the alarm set for three thirty am and consider what I’m about to do, part two of my plan. I suck on my top lip, trying to get some saliva into my dry mouth. I push back the duvet revealing the black DKNY top and J. Crew trousers, chosen so I look hot if arrested. I imagined Monique’s voice should I face the police dressed in Value jeans and so assembled an ‘attractive assassin’ combo. My armpits feel damp and my heart races to the point that I can feel its thud within my neck, it reminds me of old movies when the monster moves slow before attack. I breathe deep, this is self-defence. I can barely tie the converse I slip on my feet and for a moment I surrender, lay down on the floor in child’s pose, trying to regulate my breathing. It does no good. I must go now. I pull my wavy blonde hair back in a bun, grab my bag, slide on my D&G sunglasses and exit the house.
Behind the wheel of my faithful Nissan Micra, I drive to the bitch’s estate and park around the corner, leaving the car obscured by a row of garages. I glance around checking for witnesses. Though I see no-one, I can hear the inebriated screams and laughs of people on their way back from the clubs. I walk casually to her house, my posture straight so should anyone see me they wouldn’t question my being there. As I arrive at the front garden I appraise how immaculate it looks, planted with symmetrical bedding in oranges and purples. Box hedging as neat as a newly cut fringe ensures my cover from the estate. She must either love gardening herself or pay a fortune for someone to keep it so pristine. As someone who has grown vegetables from seed and tended to them like an expectant mother, I hesitate before I put on the rubber gloves. Can I really do this? Are things really this bad? As I consider past events I feel my jaw clench and my teeth grind. She deserves everything she gets. I reach down, my fingers grip the neck of the plants and I lift and smash them onto the path where the soil parts from the roots and spills out like spewed guts. I’m horrified to feel a grin that I cannot stop form from my lips. I carry on, full of energy, until the bedding plants are no more and the piled up soil resembles a grave of the newly buried. I move onto her dustbin, retrieve a bag of food waste and push it through the letterbox imagining the smell on her return, putrid and decaying.
I open my bag, fixed together only with one stud, extract the weedkiller and pour it over the meticulous green lawn. I try and dribble it to spell out the word bitch. A few days and hopefully yellowing dead patches will reveal my handiwork. I re-check that no-one watches me as I move around the back of the house, take a screwdriver from the front pocket of the bag and use it to disable the security light in order to prevent its on and off SOS. Pre-dawn light allows me to write WHORE in carefully disguised font across her white PVC door. For my finale I empty fake vomit out of a plastic container over her patio furniture. I silently thank the person who posted the recipe on Pinterest.
Back in the driving seat, I punch a fist in the air before I burst into tears. I turn down the visor and peer at my reflection within its mirror, seeing the reasonably happily married woman turned revenge seeking missile. Ground down and exposed to my rawest state, if you looked closely you’d see every part of me, each individual cell, be able to look within the membrane to the protoplasm. See what’s underneath …
Andie M. Long is a bonkers mother of one, who spends most of her time when not working as a Research Administrator/Medical Secretary on Facebook. She has a long suffering partner.
Author of the erotic novel The Alphabet Game and drama/suspense Underneath,
she has several published short stories and poems; including an upcoming release for Cracked Eye. Andie has a regular blog at www.wordbohemia.com, ‘The Emergence of the Invisible Writer.’
Andie will be signing at Orchard Book Event, Peterborough, UK in March 2015, Tattooed Bad Boys Event, York, UK April 2015, Dublin July 2015 and Silver City Signing, Aberdeen, August 2015. For details keep in touch at www.facebook.com/andiemlongwriter