As God Is My Author

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11


He embraced Sam as soon as she set foot in the doorway, holding her close to him to feel the pulse of her against his chest. He kissed her on the neck, not only as a greeting but to taste her skin, to prove that she was flesh. He felt the softness of her belly against his, the cup of her ear lobe. He’d never touched her like that before, like a blind man desperate for confirmation of an affiliation. She sensed his anxiety and decided to wait for him to release her. She stroked his nape like she would a dog that pawed for company. When he pulled away she looked at his face and thought he’d been crying.

‘Are you OK, Dor?’

He tried to justify everything with language.

‘I’ve missed you. That’s all.’

He turned and walked away from her too abruptly to convince her. She closed the door and followed him into the living room. The table was not set for a meal.

‘I thought we’d order something in.’ he told her. ‘I’ve been busy all day trying to finish that poem. I just didn’t have the time.’

‘Dorsett, what happened to your hand?’

He’d forgotten about it and the clumsily dressed bandage he’d tied around his palm was stained red.

‘I cut myself with the can opener. It’s nothing.’

She sat at the table, peering through the kitchen door as he fetched the wine from the fridge.

‘I discovered that your cleaner was meddling in my work.’ he said to her, ‘so I told him we’d have to let him go. He won’t be returning.’

‘I thought you said you had no evidence?’

‘He confessed. So I had little choice.’

‘Why didn’t he confess earlier? Why now?’

He came back in with the bottle and uncorked it.

‘Probably thought he’d got away with it. Maybe when I pressed him he panicked and owned up. Who knows?’

Sam was watching him closely, noticing his urgency to have done with the topic of conversation.

‘So did he write poetry, then?’

‘I think he did.’ said Dorsett. ‘I said to him, why don’t you write your own poetry? Leave mine alone.’

She waited.

‘Well? What did he say?’

‘He said he couldn’t resist seeing someone else’s work and not giving a contribution.’

‘Looks like I’ll have to hire another cleaner, then.’

‘I’ve told you, Sam. Let me do it. It’ll save you money.’

‘Dor, I don’t mean to be ungrateful, but you’re not a cleaner. You do your best but you don’t do as good a job. When someone gets paid to do it, then it’s done better.’

Dorsett felt his temper rise but held it back. He forced himself in the opposite direction.

‘I suppose you’re right. I’ll leave it with you. So, what do you fancy- Indian or Italian?’

It was only when Sam needed something to cut a strip of Sellotape the next day that she noticed. Small and smeared blood stains on the two points of the scissor blades. A quick wipe of something had made a poor job of trying to clear them away but there was enough remaining to draw a wild but not impossible scenario in her mind.

Because she noticed it before she was about to leave for work in the morning, she decided not to challenge Dorsett at the time but would bring the subject up later. Within the hours of the day, an imagined scene had more or less been given life and she decided to test it when she arrived home. Dorsett was caught off guard while he was reading a book.

‘Dorsett, I noticed there was some blood on the scissors this morning.’

Dorsett raised his head and thought of a lie quickly.

‘Oh, right: I cut myself on the lid of the tin after I’d opened it and had to snip the bandage dressing. Some of the blood must have got on to the scissors.’ He continued to read, satisfied with his answer. He noticed Sam nodding agreeably but was condemned by his own words.

‘Dorsett. There are no tins in the kitchen bin. We hardly ever eat tinned food. You know that.’

She hadn’t stopped looking at him as she explained. Another lie presented itself to Dorsett: I bought some food myself then threw the tin away in someone else’s bin. Ridiculous.

‘Did you have a fight with Mason?’ she asked.

‘Are you serious?’

‘I’m perfectly serious. I remember one of my students had an injury similar to yours. He’d been attacked by someone with a pen knife and received cuts to his hand, all on the palms, just like yours. They’re consistent with someone trying to protect themselves. It’s been on my mind all day, the worst picture I could imagine, but I can’t think of anything else.’

She turned down the TV and waited for him to explain. He closed the book and threw it aside.

‘OK. I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to believe it. I hardly believe it myself.’

He sat up straight on the chair.

‘Your friend, Mason, the so-called cleaner man, says he’s some kind of creator.’

Her silence was expected and he continued.

‘I challenged him about interfering in my work, and, as I said, he confessed. He rambled on something about creating you and me and everyone else, and whatever it is I write is the same as what he writes.’

‘The blood, Dor. Where did the blood come from?’

‘That happened when I didn’t believe him. I mean, do you believe it? Someone calling himself my creator?’

Sam remained silent, still waiting.

‘So anyway, by this time, I was as confused as you are now. So I got the scissors and said OK, if you are responsible for me and whatever I do, stop me from doing this. And I stuck the scissors into my hand.’

’You stuck a pair of scissors into your own hand?’

‘Yes Sam, I did. Why are you looking at me like that?’

‘Dor, are you insane?’

‘It was overdramatic, I admit. But I was angry and wanted to prove him wrong.’

‘And now you’re claiming that I’ve been created by Mason?’

Dorsett gave her an angry look, suspicious of which direction the talk was going.

’No. I am saying that’s what he said. Let’s make that clear, shall we?’

Her expression worried him.

‘I bet you wish you’d accepted the lie about the tin-opener now, don’t you?’

‘Tell me you don’t believe him.’ she said finally. ‘I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.’

‘Well, he believes it, that’s for certain. And at least we’ve found out who’s been interfering in my poems.’

He left the table and went into the kitchen. Sam watched him leave, wondering how someone she thought she knew well could act so unpredictably.

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