What Have I Done - By Amanda Prowse

I will gather up all the little pieces that you have chipped away, hidden in drawers, swept under the carpet and shoved behind cushions and I will rebuild myself. I will become all of the things that I thought I might. All the dreams I considered before you broke me, I will chase them all.

Ten years ago

Kathryn Brooker watched the life slip from him, convinced she saw the black spirit snake out of his body and disappear immediately through the floor, spiralling down and down. She sat back in her chair and breathed deeply. She had expected euphoria or at the very least relief. What she couldn’t have predicted was the numbness that now enveloped her. Picturing her children sleeping next door, she closed her eyes and wished for them a deep and peaceful rest, knowing it would be the last they would enjoy for some time. As ever, consideration of what was best for her son and daughter was only a thought away.

The room felt quite empty despite the blood-soaked body lying centrally on the bed. The atmosphere was peaceful, the temperature just right.

Kathryn registered the smallest flicker of disappointment; she had expected to feel more.

Having changed into jeans and a jersey, she calmly stood by the side of the bed on which her husband’s pale corpse lay. With great deliberation and for the first time in her life, she dialled 999. It felt surreal to put into practice the one act that she had mentally rehearsed for as long as she could remember, although in her imagination the emergency had always been a child with a broken leg or a fire in a neighbouring empty building, nothing too dramatic.

‘Emergency, which service do you require?’

‘Oh, hello, yes, I’m not too sure which service I require.’

‘You are not sure?’

‘I think probably the police or ambulance, maybe both. Sorry. As I said, I’m not too sure…’

‘Can I ask you what it is in connection with, madam?’

‘Oh, right, yes, of course. I have just murdered my husband.’

‘I’m sorry, you have what? This is a terrible line.’

‘Oh, I know. I’m sorry, I’ll try and speak up a bit. It’s always a terrible connection from here, even if I’m phoning someone locally. It’s because I am up in the main bedroom and the reception is very bad. My son thinks it may be because of all the big trees around us; we did cut them right back one year, but I can’t remember if it made any difference. Plus we get interference from the computers in the next building; we’ve been meaning to get it looked at, but that’s by the by. Right, yes. I said, I have murdered my husband.’

* * *

Kathryn blinked at the humming strip light that winked overhead; the bulb needed to be replaced. It was a distraction that could easily become annoying.

‘Did you do it?’

Roland Gearing rested his weight on splayed fingers, his hands forming little pyramids that, incredibly, supported his muscular frame as he leant over the table. He lowered his voice an octave; this was the one question he knew he had to ask and yet he was fearful of her response.

‘Did I do it?’

‘Yes, Kathryn, did you?’

He held her gaze, hoping to instil trust, trying to tease out the honest answer. He knew a lot about lying and relied on his gut instinct. Years on the job had taught him to monitor the interviewee’s pupils carefully.

‘It’s a question that I wouldn’t normally ask quite so early in proceedings, but as your friend – as Mark’s friend too – I feel I have to. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, yes of course. I understand.’

She gave a fleeting smile as her index finger and thumb looped her hair behind her left ear and then her right.

Her calm composure rattled him; there was none of the hysteria or fear that usually characterised these encounters. Women in similar situations were often almost insane with terror, rage or the dread of injustice. Kathryn, however, appeared placid.

She remembered her husband’s glassy eyes. The way his fingers slipped and missed as they struggled with an invisible tourniquet that stopped the breath in his throat. Her nose wrinkled; her nostrils still carried the faintest trace of the iron stench of Mark’s seeping blood. It had repulsed and comforted her in equal measure. It was as if she could taste it at the back of her throat. She hadn’t sought to ease his discomfort in his dying moments, nor had she offered any words of solace. She had