WASTE NOT, WANT NOT (391 words)
Early evening, and the headache that had been stalking me all day slammed into me with the force of a rear-end collision, scattering coherent thought into the ether and making further editing of the new book impossible. I wasn’t surprised by it – the headache, I mean – the pain in my temples had been building up since Chapter Eight, but I was surprised by how fast the dull ache behind my eyes had elevated to the psi of an over-inflated tyre. Too late now to divert it with medication, it would be like trying to extinguish a bushfire by pissing on it. My only option was to crawl into a deep, dark hole and let the headache run its course… after I called Lucy to tell her I wouldn’t make it for dinner.
‘That’s three times in the last fortnight you’ve cancelled on me, Dad,’ she said, sounding more piqued than concerned.
‘I know, sweetheart, and I’m sorry. There’s no excuse for it. I was so caught up with editing, I probably didn’t drink enough…’
‘That’s what you said last time. And the time before. If I didn’t know better, I might think this was some elaborate plan of yours to convince me you weren’t coping and get me to move back home.’
What? Pain jabbed at my eyes. Where the hell had that come from? ‘Grossly unfair, Lucy,’ I said, through gritted teeth. ‘When have I ever given you that idea?’
‘Come off it, Dad. In the three months since I moved in with Paul, do you know how many times you’ve called with one of your ‘little emergencies’? Five. Five times, Dad. Three times because you’ve forgotten to charge the battery on your chair and twice because you ran out of your medication. And now these headaches. Tell me, what am I supposed to think?’ Her voice dropped, and I strained to catch her next words. ‘Is it Paul, Dad? Tell me honestly; is all this nonsense because you don’t like Paul?’
Don’t like Paul? I loved Paul! He was perfect for her. My blood pressure ratcheted up a notch.
‘Lucy, you’ve got this all wrong!’
Light exploded behind my left eye; a brilliant white supernova that lit up the inside of my skull, followed by a blotchy red darkness like a shutter had come down.
This was new.