When the time came I went to the bathroom and gathered up the boxes and packets of pills. I felt all right but I couldn’t breathe properly – I had to keep my mouth open. In the kitchen I emptied the whole lot into a bowl, popping them out of the tin foil – it was like shelling peas. Then I put them into the coffee grinder and switched it on. They broke up very quickly and fell to powder, much quicker than coffee beans.
The lilies arrived and I put them into white bowls, horrible greeny waxy things. I couldn’t decide what to wear for death and then of course there was only one dress that would suit, the tight, black one, my party dress, also my funeral dress. It made my hair look darker and my face whiter. I ringed my eyes with black eye pencil, lathered on the red lipstick. Nothing subtle about that.
The curry was just about ready and I was unwrapping garlic bread when Jack came in.
“I’ve made chicken curry,” I said. “Isn’t that all right? Louise likes curry, doesn’t she? She can leave the garlic bread.”
He didn’t answer, just frowned, at my darkened eyes, at the lilies, half-smiling.
“What is all this, pet?”
“Say my name,” I said.
“Say my name. You never say my name. My name is not pet.”
The half-smile disappeared. He smacked the newspaper against his leg and went to poke at the curry.
“I made an effort,” I said when he wouldn’t answer.
“And I ordered lilies – you said Louise likes them.”
And I smiled and smiled, still trying, even then.
“Why are you wearing that dress?”
He was walking in and out of the dining-room, taking off his jacket and tie.
“Do you not – ” I began.
But he went off upstairs.