Jeopardy by Sarah Edghill

Fiction

You send me a text in the evening, as I’m sitting on the sofa beside my husband.

‘Who’s that?’ he asks.

‘Just a woman from work.’

I click to close the screen.

You send another.

Please, I think. Not now.

‘What does she want?’

‘She’s having problems with her boyfriend.’

I pick up my phone and fumble with the buttons, turning it onto silent.

My husband and I sit watching a drama unfold on the television. The main character is a policewoman, an old school copper. She could be bent, we’re not sure yet.

My phone is facedown on the sofa beside me. I put my hand on top of it and feel it vibrate, as you text again and again.

‘I think she’s playing them all,’ says my husband. ‘She knew that raid was going to go wrong.’

‘Maybe,’ I nod.

‘Fancy a cup of tea?’ he asks, during the ad break.

When he leaves the room, I turn over the phone and the screen lights up with a stream of your words.

I love you, I miss you.

My breath catches. There is a rush in the pit of my stomach, as if all the blood is flooding out of my body.

I want to be with you.

My finger hovers over the phone. I start to reply. I know I ought to tell you to stop this: please don’t send me any more texts, please don’t call me. Leave me sitting here in peace with my husband to get on with my life.

But that isn’t what my finger is tapping out: something different is appearing on the screen in front of me.

I hear the kettle boiling next door; cupboard doors closing, the clank of a spoon being dropped into the sink.

I read the words I have just written.

I love you too. I can’t stop thinking about you.

It’s as if someone else has done this.

My husband puts two mugs on the table in front of us, and I slip the phone back onto the sofa beside me, my text unsent.

‘I reckon she’s working for that South American guy,’ he says, as the ads finish. ‘She has probably been on the take for years.’

‘No, that’s too obvious,’ I say. ‘I think she’s being set up.’

As the programme starts again, my phone continues to buzz beneath my hand.

I know that if I turn it over, the message I tapped out will still be there. I have two options. If I hit delete, I will continue to sit here, beside my husband, watching this policewoman mess up her life.

‘She’s taking a massive risk,’ my husband is saying. ‘They’re bound to work out what’s going on.’

If I hit send, my words will appear on another phone screen, a few miles away, and our three worlds will be set spinning.

‘What if she’s the real victim in all this?’ I ask, as the camera pans in on the policewoman’s face, throwing an unflattering light onto the bags beneath her eyes.

My husband snorts.

‘No way. She knows what she’s doing.’

My fingers tap on the phone. I can feel it buzzing every few seconds. You continue to text me; waiting for my reply.

My heart is hammering so hard, I’m finding it difficult not to gasp as I breathe.

I turn over the phone and my finger moves towards the screen.

Biography
Sarah Edghill worked as a journalist for many years, before turning her hand to fiction. In 2015 she graduated from the Faber Academy Novel Writing course and in 2016 won the Katie Fforde Contemporary Fiction Award for her novel Wrecking Ball, which is currently out on submission to agents. Follower on Twitter @EdghillSarah or at sarahedghill.com.

Image: unsplash.com

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