HOT METAL, VALERIE PHILLIPS, ELLE UK, 2005
I must have lain still for at least an hour listening to John Wayne's drawl from the television in the background until my fear of moving was outweighed by the clamminess of the wet sheets, which had by now become unbearably cold. I rolled out of the back of the bed and turned the light on, I was completely soaked. In the bathroom the mirror told me I'd be needing some serious quality dishwater tablets to get this out (my washing machine was broken). I stripped and chucked the clothes in the corner of the bathroom before going to get a black bin bag from the kitchen.
Back in my room I chuckled at how fortunate I was not to have been hit, a nervous laugh - why the fuck had someone burst into my flat and shot at me? I thought it would be amusing to shrug this off lightly - ah fuck it, I've never been caught up in anything that would lead someone to want to rub me. Must have got the wrong guy. Maybe they were after the previous tenant, I had after all found a lock-knife down the side of the bath when I moved in, maybe that guy was mixed up in some funny stuff. And they must have thought they had shot me - they would have seen the spray of blood. I doubted they would be back, considering. But they fucking shot Mary. Bastards.
I shook out the sack as I entered the room and looked at the poor girl on my bed, she was turning as stiff as anything, and her beautiful golden locks were matted with blood. As tenderly as I could, I picked her up and put her in the bag, wondering how I might go about avenging this.
I always imagined that burying a body was going to be a pretty clichéd affair, and I was right. I put her in the boot along with a shovel and had already started down the drive before I had decided where I was going to take her. Out in the middle of Richmond Park near the lake maybe - we always used to enjoy long walks together there on Saturday mornings - or maybe just round the corner somewhere, keep it simple. No, I had more heart than that. I carried on down the A3 past Roehampton.
By the time I left the motorway it must have been about three in the morning. I turned the radio off as I got onto the country lanes and relaxed to the sound of the old Bavarian engine, twenty-two, maybe twenty-three years old and still going wonderfully. The headlights lit up the nebulous fog and dewy hedgerows beautifully, and I let myself bask in the warm red glow of the dashboard, the rev-counter flickering about excitedly as I dropped into third and danced past a Golf going at that annoying speed - slowish, but near enough to the limit for you to have to take a few risks when you overtake. Most likely pub goers on their way home. I threw the car around a few more corners before a muffled bump reminded me I still had a passenger in the boot. Poor Mary. I sat up in fourth and tapped my nails against the frosty window.
I eventually got to that place in Dorset, and turned down the muddied road towards the little hamlet where my uncle lived. I thought it would be OK if used his garden - Mary had loved this countryside, running through deep snow in the winter, pawing at fishes in the summer. And there was a nice pub nearby where we used to chase birds in the garden. The gravel trickled under my tyres as I parked against the back wall of the house. I turned the car off, got out, lit a cigarette and sat on the warm bonnet listening to the gentle clicking of the engine. Then I got the spade, clicked the latch of the garden gate and started digging.