For the Cake Wednesday Write-In
Thunder: Trudy doesn’t quite catch the lightening – maybe it got caught in a blink, she can’t tell. Every time his fist hits her cheek, her face whips to one side then the other, stunning, indiglow stalagmites flaring up from behind her eyelids. There is blood: caked on the walls of her nostrils, running down the back of her throat, pounding the back of her eyeballs. She managed to get a text sent before he had smashed her phone underfoot. 25 E8 4FF, please come.
Trudy has only ever needed to use that number three times, including this one. The first time was to check the number was right. She has known Grace, Verity and Charity for as long as she had been their legal council. Known is a strong word. She represented them at the pleasure of the state five years ago for a triple homicide case and managed, somehow, to persuade the judge to let them be tried as juveniles although these girls seemed to have done all of their growing up already.
“Let us know if you ever need us to do anything for you, anything, yeah?” Grace always seemed to be the spokeswomen of the three, handing her the number in the hall outside the courtroom. Trudy had taken the scrap of paper (a receipt from JD sports for a baseball bat which they had earlier denied all knowledge of) and stuffed it in her purse, but that hadn’t been the end of it.
“Stop crying,” he says, hot and wet in the shell of her eye. “I won’t tell you again, stop crying.”
I’m not crying, she wants to say. I’m trying to laugh, but you’re choking me…
The second time she used the number had been two years ago, just before the untimely death of her first husband. She hadn’t been sure the number was still in use – criminals tended to change numbers a lot but she managed to get through and Grace, ever the pragmatist, had simply asked her for the postcode and the house number before hanging up. Afterwards, as Grace had been pulling out fake license plates, string and garden shearers from her tool bag and Verity and Charity were relegated to clean up duty, Grace had squinted up at her from the kitchen floor. “You’ve looked better,” she had remarked.
“I’m fine,” Trudy had said, always a big fan of perspective – she was definitely fine this time.
Grace didn’t suffer fools gladly. “Don’t let your man take you for a mug, you’re smarter than that. You’ve got our number.”
Trudy supposes it’s partly her fault. She’s no longer a junior barrister at the chambers – she can normally spot violent, drug and alcohol abusing men a mile off – at the very least, from the distance between witness stand and dock.
“Don’t ever try and tell me what to do again,” Tom is telling her when the car pulls up outside. A Vauxhall – they’ve upgraded. Good work. Business must be going well. Her cut and bruised lips attempt an approximation of a smile as the sisters storm in, Grace with her tidy tool kit and Verity and Charity each with crowbars and delight in their eyes.