Police have released a CCTV image of a man they would like to interview in connection with the disappearance of Caroline Marshall, the estate agent who was last seen in Bristol more than eight months ago.
I pull out my earbuds and let my phone drop to the floor beside the bed. Behind me, I hear him breathing. Quick in, two second pause, quick out – a staccato song of troubled sleep.
The sun is shining, and when I open the curtains it throws a second blanket onto our bed. Rob feels it, because he stirs for a moment and screws up his eyes. I hold my breath. He turns, pulls the covers over his head, and settles. I breathe out.
All I can see of him now are his feet – poking out the bottom of the too short bed – and his hair, pooled on the pillow. The sun is caught in it, and it has become spun gold.
The man, believed to be in his early thirties, is around 6 feet 3 inches with blond hair, and was wearing a dark blue hoodie and black jeans. He may have been driving a red Ford Mondeo, which witnesses say was parked outside the house that Miss Marshall was showing on the day of her disappearance.
I make breakfast. It sticks in my throat. He talks to me but I can’t hear him; his voice a background drone. I don’t let him turn the television on.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of this man, please contact the Ashton Vale police, who will treat your call in the strictest confidence.
When he leaves, he kisses me on my forehead. I feel the burn of his lips. I watch as his red Mondeo pulls away; feeling that pull like it’s attached to a string deep inside me.
I put his dark blue hoodie and black jeans into the washing machine. I wish I could wash his smell off me so easily.
I wait a long time before I dial the Ashton Vale number. My heart beats a woodpecker rhythm.
‘Hello, this is Caroline Marshall,’ I say.
I have been published in print in The Bath Short Story Award Anthology 2015 and National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2016, and online at Storgy, Litro and Paragraph Planet. I have a story included in Flash Flood 2017 for National Flash Fiction Day. My website is debbivoisey.co.uk and my Twitter is @DublinWriter
Image: Caleb Ekeroth