Jane stumbled down the kitchen steps still in her slippers. She was across the yard and through the gate into the lane that ran behind the cottages as if a demon was chasing her. She kept running until she reached the bus stop; the Number 12 was just arriving and she jumped on.
She had no money but luckily it was only one stop, and she was off again and beating on her mother’s door before the conductor could approach her.
‘What’s the matter, Jane?’ her mother was looking closely at her. ‘What is it this time?’
Jane’s mother was accustomed to her daughter turning up in hysterics swearing never to go back to her husband ever again.
‘Nothing, Mam, nothing. In fact, I … I …’
‘Just say it, love. Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. We’ll sort it, together.’
‘Oh Mam. It’s bad, really bad. I think I’ve killed him. I hit him with the frying pan, the big heavy one. I'm sorry!’
Jane’s mother gasped in horror. One time Jane had cut the sleeves off his shirts because she thought he was cheating on her. Another time she’d claimed he’d hit her, but she wasn’t the one with bruises. This was another level.
She tried to keep her voice calm. ‘Did you do that on purpose?’
‘Well, I suppose I did. I mean, no! I didn’t really mean to but I just saw red, and before I knew it … Oh God, I think he’s dead!’
Mrs Gray looked at the white, tear-stained face of her troubled daughter. With a heavy heart she picked up the telephone.
‘Ambulance, please,’ she said, ‘and police.’