Diana felt John place a light kiss on the top of her head. She turned over to find him stood by the bed, adjusting his tie.
"What time did you get in?" She asked him, her voice tired and hoarse.
"Just after one. "
"What time is it?"
"Quarter to six."
"Ouch! Why so early? Do you want me to go and make you some breakfast?" Diana opened her eyes slowly and squinted in the glare of the artificial light.
"No, stay here in the warm. I'll grab something at the office. The trial run found a few last-minute coding errors that need to be fixed today."
"So I'll see you at dinner tonight?" Diana asked hopefully.
"We'll see. I'll call you as early as I can to let you know."
"Okay," she said, disappointment in her voice barely disguised. John had hardly been home the last few weeks. She didn't doubt that work was busy, after all, the new program his company was about to launch had taken months to fine tune. But his absence seemed to become more noticeable and prolonged since Hannah had moved in. It sometimes seemed to Diana like he didn't want to be around their daughter and that she couldn't fathom at all.
"Have a good day," he said, securing his cuff link. The bedside lamp was turned off and he left the room. Diana listened for the front door to close, then for the car engine to gurgle in to life and as the sound of the car faded into the distance, she lay staring up into the muddy darkness of the room. The luminous hands on the face of the alarm clock on the table next to John's side of the bed advanced slowly. It was close to six o'clock and already she felt the unrelenting burn. She sat up and rubbed at her throat. The wedding ring on her finger felt heavier today than normal. She'd never liked the ring. It was too bulky, with far too many diamonds than was good for one person. Lately, everything seemed to be weighing her down, or maybe that was just her guilt.
Diana sat for a further five minutes, trying not to do the one thing her body was willing her to... She told herself that she was over it. That all of this was just a temporary setback and it didn't mean anything. She tried to distract her thoughts by going over the list of errands she needed to run later in the day. But like the many times before, the burn got a little stronger. Whilst shaking her head at her own stupidity, she reached over and turned the bedside lamp on again. Leaning forward, she ran her hand behind the bedside table and touched at the recess behind it. Her fingers made contact with the cool glass. Wrapping them around the neck, she brought the bottle up onto the top of the bed covers and rotated the base of the bottle. The clear liquid lazily began to swirl about at the bottom and then began to roll and sweep up the sides. The need took over and Diana wrenched at the lid, twisting it off and brought it up to her lips. She took a large glug and the slow burn in her throat transformed into raging flames as the alcohol flooded into her mouth. She welcomed the fire as it moved down her body, seeming to temporarily fill the void. Diana closed her eyes, leant back against the head board and switched off.
"Mother." Diana heard someone calling out.
"Mother." This time the call was louder and much closer.
"Mother!" Diana jumped in fright and saw Edward standing at the foot of the bed, smirking down at her.
"What time is it?" She asked.
"Too early for that!" Edward pointed to the empty bottle lying on the floor beside her. "Does my father know you've taken up drinking again?"
"I am not drinking, Edward. I had a small glass before bedtime to help me sleep. You know I don't sleep well when your father's not here. There was hardly a drop in there. Anyway, what do you want at this hour?"
YOU ARE READING
The NumberedScience Fiction
Imagine the second you're born, a consultant removes you from your mother's grasp and runs a battery of genetic and physiological tests on you. Thirty minutes later they give you a score out of one hundred which denotes your level of perfection. If...