Guilty

Patrick was in Becky’s face from the moment that she stepped through the front door, the package from the postman cradled in her arms.

‘I saw you out there,’ he said, standing in her way with his hands on his hips. ‘I saw you out there with him.’

Becky re-adjusted the parcel in her hands and tried to get past him. Patrick stepped in front of her whichever way she moved.

‘I saw you out there with him,’ he repeated. Becky sighed.

‘Yes, Pat, the postman turned up with a parcel while I was taking out the bin,’ she replied. ‘So yes, I was with him, and it was out there. Now, could you please move out of the way? This is really heavy.’

Patrick did not allow her to get past or move further into the house. He puffed out his chest a little, as though he was trying to take up as much space as he could physically occupy, and said, ‘You were smiling at him!’

Becky found the time to scoff in between shifting the weight of the heavy parcel from one arm to the other. ‘Yeah, Pat, I smiled at the postman. That’s what people do when they see other people. They smile.’

Patrick raised one of his hands and prodded her in the chest, just below her right shoulder. ‘I know exactly what you were doing,’ he told her.

‘Yes, I was getting this parcel for you. Please Pat, step aside so I can put it on the table. I’m worried I might drop it.’

Patrick seemed oblivious to her struggle with the parcel cradled in her arms. ‘You don’t care who sees, do you?’ he half-shouted, still pointing at Becky. ‘I should’ve realised that already, I mean you don’t care if I see, so why would you care if anybody else sees? The whole street is whispering about you and you don’t care!’

‘What? What are you – ? I smiled. At a man. Oh my God, the whole street must be in uproar! I turn up and stay at my boyfriend’s place for a night, and then the next morning I smile at the postman and he smiles back!’

Patrick slapped a hand to his forehead, his mouth hung open. His eyes were wide and bulging, as though he was genuinely amazed by Becky’s attitude. ‘Wow,’ he said. ‘Wow! You just don’t get it! You don’t get that what you’re doing is threatening to tear us apart!’

‘The only thing that’s threatening to tear me apart,’ Becky replied, ‘is this damn box if I don’t put it down.’

‘Becky,’ Patrick continued, doing nothing to acknowledge that she had even spoken, ‘I can’t stay with you if you start flirting with every single man you –’

‘What? Flirting?’ Becky cried. She dropped the parcel down on the floor and whatever Patrick had ordered smashed; again, he did not seem to notice anything. ‘For crying out loud, we’ve only been dating for a couple of months! I come round to your place, the postman spots me coming out of the house, he asks me to sign for your parcel, we smile at each other – and – and –’ she flustered, trying to find the words, ‘you go nuts! What’s wrong with you, Pat? You know what, actually, don’t answer that. I’m leaving.’

She turned and left before he could say anything more than, ‘Yeah, go on, leave, just like everyone else does when they’re guilty.’

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