He put his head round the door on the way to his bedroom. “Hallo, Mama.”
Gisela coughed again, for longer this time. The two of them inhabited the same apartment but different worlds. He never greeted her, so why now?
She felt for the neck of the bottle under the cushion. Her mouth was so parched it hurt but she couldn’t open the Sekt because he’d hear the cork pop. She crept over to the Schrank wall unit and eased out the bottom drawer. Verdammt! The vodka wasn’t there and neither were the miniature fire water bottles she’d bought at Lidl. Sascha! She should hammer on his door and demand an explanation. I’m the parent here. But when she heard his door open, she jammed the Schrank drawer half shut.
“I’ll make coffee,” he said, coming in to help her with the drawer. He slid it back into place and left the room, whistling.
She slumped into her chair. Heilige Maria Mutter Gottes (Holy Mary Mother of God), since when did this scowling young man whistle? Judging by the wet swimming things, the Freibad must have opened for the season. Perhaps he was exhilarated after exercising in the fresh air. Good. He spent too much time brooding in his bedroom or in the car.
He came back into the room, smiling, and she felt a pang of fear. “Have you been to the school?” she asked.
His face hardened. “Why would I go there?”
“I just thought …”
“What did you just think?”
“Nothing. How was your swim?”
“I met a woman.”
“Oh?” There’d been no one since Julia, since he’d cancelled dates with her to park outside the metal fence of the Niers International School instead.
His face remained hard but he said: “She’ll be useful, maybe open doors for me.”
About the author
Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.
To find out more about Rachel and her writing, please visit her website: www.rachelsargeant.co.uk
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