‘I bet even the real Sid Vicious didn’t shit in his bathwater.’ Kara Moon stared down at the noxious poo in the terrapin’s tank.
‘Ooh, I bet he did,’ her boyfriend Jago murmured whilst flattening down his dark-brown Beatles-style haircut and patting his khaki jacket pockets in turn. ‘Seen my keys, Moo Moo?’
Kara cringed inwardly at her once much-adored nickname. Then, retrieving the keys from the orderly rack in the kitchen, she came back through the open archway into their compact living space.
A lone beam of golden sunlight made its jittery mark across the wooden floor as it seeped through the open crack of the balcony door. The sounds of mewing seagulls and creaking yacht masts in the estuary harbour rose up from below, comforting and familiar, yet they did not ease the gnawing feeling in Kara Moon’s stomach. Hoping for a different answer to the one she was expecting, she asked casually, ‘Where are you going this early, anyway?’
As Jago reached for his battered Beatles key ring, Kara caught a whiff of the Gucci aftershave she had given him for Christmas. He looked at her with a perplexed expression. ‘It’s Jobcentre day. You know I always go over to Crowsbridge on a Friday.’
‘How could I possibly forget?’ Kara said sarcastically. ‘Oh yes, maybe because it’s been eighteen months and you still haven’t come back with a job.’
‘It’s just, James Bond needs his flea stuff and I’m not sure if there’s enough money in the blue pot and—’
Ignoring her pitiful plea, Jago went to the open hallway, jumped down two stairs at a time, then looked back to say in a patronising tone, ‘My little Ginger Princess. You look quite pretty when you forget to tie your hair up in that stupid ponytail.’
Fighting back tears, Kara put her hand to the back of her long, messy auburn waves as her errant beau of eight years stalled again to say nastily, ‘And why aren’t you at work? Or did you stupidly forget about that too?’
Kara sighed deeply and held her palm up to him. ‘Just go, Jago. You mustn’t be late now, must you.’
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. The famous Lennon-McCartney lyrics that Kara had chosen for his special key ring followed after Jago as he hurried down the stairs, jumped down the last three and went out, slamming the door.
To try and regain a modicum of inner peace, Kara stood still for a minute and stared out of the window at nothing in particular. Here she was, at thirty-three years old, living with a jobless, feckless, twenty-nine-year-old youth, with no mention or hope of plans for the future. And despite her working her butt off to support the two of them, she seemed to barely make ends meet, let alone save any money. The more cash she put aside in the blue ceramic savings pot for unseen eventualities and ‘nice things’ like holidays or weekends away, the more excuses Jago Ellis found to dip into it. In fact, tragically, the only holiday they had ever been on together was a long weekend to Liverpool where she was dragged around every street and tourist attraction to satisfy his insatiable hunger for anything and everything relating to his precious obsession: the Beatles.
Deftly avoiding a bite from Sid Vicious, Kara swore loudly and continued to hold back the tears she had been gripping on to. Then, gagging as she pulled her pink rubber washing-up gloves up as far as they would go, she scooped up the offending smelly mess in the tiny net bought for the purpose.
It was five years ago when Jago had arrived home drunk, carrying a huge tank up the steep stairs, slopping water as he went. And five years ago when the job of looking after this poor little reptile, first seen by Kara hanging on to a rock for dear life, had become her responsibility. She lifted her head in thought. Had they been getting on then? She couldn’t remember.
Their living room with a view offered an optical illusion of space but despite the long bay window seat and door out on to the balcony, there was barely room for their table/desk with a couple of dining chairs and a sagging, two-seater sofa. Jago had cack-handedly fixed a TV far too big for the room to the wall above the fireplace. And the glass shelf that was eventually put up for the tank to sit on was placed at such an angle that when poor Sid wanted