I was jolted awake by the noise of the vibrating alarm clock. I rolled stiffly onto my side and swiped it to the floor. I sighed and turned over to face the floor to ceiling window pane of my London apartment. I could see life scurrying below me; red buses and black cabs in a grey, uninspiring street. I closed my eyes and sank back into the memory foam, willing my heavy legs to swing over the edge of the bed.
I darted around the kitchen, making toast, brewing coffee, opening letters, flicking through magazines. Glancing at my watch, I grabbed my green suede jacket, slipped on my patent heels and rushed to the glass elevator that would take me from my world to the real world.
I plonked my keys, my briefcase and an over-filled Starbucks coffee cup on my desk and pushed open my laptop.
‘Morning, Samantha. You look happy today.’ It was Toby; always eager to please. ‘Want anything from The Soul Kitchen?’
‘No thanks. It’s a bit early, isn’t it?’
‘Well, no. It’s 11.30.’
Was it really? I looked at my watch, half expecting it to have stopped.
I sat down and looked at my desk calendar, filled with deadlines and red scribbles. What was the point of it all?
The weekend had been oddly traumatic, looking through comics and childhood annuals in my old wardrobe. I began searching for a cardigan, as my mother’s house was always frigid and damp. But I found his moth-eaten, red jumper instead. Deep red, a burgundy red. A blood stain. It was all I could find. Should I wear it? The cold chill was spreading through me, fingers of ice at my ankles.
‘Leave it alone! Just leave his things alone!’ Her face was contorted with anger.
‘Please, I’m sorry. I was just looking for something…warm.’
I knew it was my fault he was dead. My own brother was dead. And she would never forgive me.
I looked at the array of photos on my desk; a lovely husband standing with his arm around me on a Caribbean beach. Two sweet little girls in school uniform smiling gap-toothed at the camera....