She wears gloves in summer. Many of our neighbours walk around with black eyes, cut lips, grazed cheeks, swollen jaws. This is not a coincidence. I know she leaves our bed late at night. She’s silent, like a sneeze in a hurricane, but I’ve woken up to find her side of the bed empty and cold. The next morning she’s lying next to me, intensely warm. She takes care to clean herself up. She plucks the debris from her hair, and wipes the sweat from her arms. Then the cotton nightgown goes back on, a symbol of such obscenely misused innocence it makes me laugh to see it every morning. She looks at me, tilting her head and asks what is funny? Nothing, I say. You’re just cute. She agrees.
One night, I followed her. I woke up in an empty bed and ran to the bedroom window in time to see her slowly crossing the road, as though sleepwalking, and entering the Wilson’s house three doors down. The living room light clicked on and the curtains shut.
I wrapped myself up in a black dressing gown and retraced her steps, avoiding the streetlights. Crouching underneath the window, I looked in through a gap in the curtains. On the couch, she straddled Mr Wilson. The gloves were off as she punched his face, over and over again. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. Mrs Wilson sat in another chair, legs open, knuckles deep, masturbating herself to this drama.