“So what happened to fish face then?” Gill asked Bella’s bottom as it wigged to and fro.
Bella stopped wiggling and moved from all fours to a kneeling position. She turned to look at Gill, and frowned. “Fish- face?” she said absently scratching her forearm with the back of the damp scrubbing brush.
“Yes the one that you emailed about. The one that you would die for, murder for, walk over hot coals for, poke your eyes out for. You called him fish- face as a term of endearment for some unknown reason.”
“Not fish-face silly, fishcake!” Bella laughed, standing up and slopping dirty water into the sink.
“Oh right, there is sooo much difference between the two, how could I have been so stupid?” Gill smiled and sipped her tea.
Bella smiled too, washed her hands and then joined her friend at the kitchen table. She looked at Gill and suddenly pinched her cheek playfully. “I have missed you so much. You mustn’t leave it so long next time.”
“Oy, watch the make -up,” Gill said rubbing her cheek. “And anyway, you’re the one who upped sticks and moved fifty miles away. Remember, you just had to be near Bobby, or you would just wither and die like a poor little flower on an arid plain?”
Bella rolled her eyes and nodded. “Yes, but as you know there turned out to be a Mrs. Bobby, so he bobbied off to be with her and the three little bobs.”
Gill laughed at her friend’s dry humour and poured more tea. She wondered if the flippancy was just a facade though. Bella looked like she’d lost weight. Her normally glossy chestnut mane looked lifeless, and the old faded pink T-shirt and grubby stained jeans had definitely seen better days.
The small sea-front flat Bella called home was spotless however. Gill remembered that her best friend had always cleaned furiously when she was down. Bella hadn’t even stopped scrubbing to greet her properly when she’d arrived. Still, she figured she’d carry on with the light hearted banter if that’s what Bella wanted.
“And then before you had time to pack your bags and come home, fish-face came on the scene. So where is he?” she said sitting back and folding her arms.
“I told you it was fishcake!” Bella said laughing a little too loudly. “He once made me a cake in the shape of a fish. As you know I’m a Piscean, so on my birthday he made me this wonderful...wonderful fishcake.” Her eyes suddenly brimmed with tears and then spilling over, they ran unchecked down her face.
Gill jumped up and quickly went to hug her. She could feel tremors shaking her friend’s whole body as she gave free reign to her sorrows. Her sobs grew louder, and Bella suddenly pulled away covering her face with her hands.
“What’s wrong honey? What’s he done to you?”
“What they all do, use me and ...d..dump...me!” she wailed through her sobs.
“So he just walked out on you? Look at me sweetie,” Gill said trying to prize Bella’s hands from her face.
Suddenly Bella stopped crying, took her hands from her face and said calmly. “He tried to walk away, but he found that difficult after I hacked his legs off.”
Gill looked at the vacant stare in Bella’s dark eyes and felt a chill start at her toes and race up the length of her body. “That’s a funny thing to say Be...”
“I drugged him and then hacked him to pieces,” Bella interrupted in her flat monotone voice. “He’s, well what’s left of him, is in the bath.”
Gill stood up knocking her chair over. A flashback of the dirty water slopping into the sink rocked her senses...dirty water which had looked oddly rusty in appearance. The pink faded T shirt, had it once been white? The stained jeans...Jesus, what had Bella done?! She backed away towards the sink and gingerly glanced in. What she saw made the bile rise in her throat.
Gill nodded to the sink. “God Bella, please tell me that’s just liver or something you were cleaning up when I got here.”
Bella looked puzzled. “What? No I just told you I hacked him up. That in the sink is what’s left of his heart. He crossed it and hoped to die when he said he’d love me forever. I crossed it a few times when I shredded it,” She looked at Gill and grinned manically.
“For God’s sake Bella stop it! You’re scaring me now. Look you’re obviously having some kind of breakdown. I shouldn’t have just showed up here unannounced, it threw you.”
Gill edged her way towards the bathroom, not daring to take her eyes from Bella’s. “Now I’m going to look in the bathroom and you’ll see, it’s all in your mind.”
The handle felt cold, and Gill’s hand shook as she pushed it down and opened wide the bathroom door. Bella’s breath felt hot on the back of her neck as her terrified eyes tried to take in the carnage in the bathtub.
“It’s all in my mind eh?” Bella whispered, and then, “I’m so sorry Gill.”
Bella hummed as she ran scalding water into the bucket, and added a liberal squirt of bleach. She wiped the carving knife clean and then returned to the bathroom. Bella had a few loose ends to tidy up.