I watch you chatting and joking with that woman with the red hair. I know you find her attractive. She’s exactly your type. The way she’s walking ever so slightly too close to you and laughing at your corny gags tell me she likes you too. Neither of you are paying any attention to the birds and plants the safari guide is showing us. You could be charged by a twenty-tonne elephant and you wouldn’t notice.
I didn’t want to come here. ‘We need a break,’ you said. ‘To get away.’ What you meant was get away from her, Laura, the girl down the road who I know you slept with, whatever you say, and now won’t leave you alone. I’m terrified here, in this claustrophobic jungle where I might become lunch for any wild animal that takes a fancy to me, but I was more scared of losing you and this is where you wanted to go. We’ve been together since school. I don’t know how to not be with you. So I came. But now it looks like you’re going to do it all over again. Maybe later tonight you’ll sneak off to see her. I’ll know and you’ll know I know, but neither of us will say a damn thing.
Leopards. Wolves. Paranoia.
For a few minutes I think maybe it’s all in my head – because you said exactly that to me about Laura and I believed it, believed you, until I couldn’t any longer – but you whisper something in your new friend’s ear and she giggles and then, for a moment, you slip your arm around her waist. I can’t believe you’d be so blatant as to do that in front of me. I’m not being paranoid. This is really happening.
I can see the two girls the redhead is with looking over. One of them gives me a half-smile and I just want to disappear.
Alligators. Piranhas. Shame.
You doze on the bumpy drive back to camp, your skull rattling against the thin glass of the window. I don’t know how the safari company expects this rickety old jeep to protect us if a lion hurls itself at it. The girls are on the seats in front of us, chattering about what’s for dinner this evening, but the redhead glances back for a moment and she fucking grins at me and fireworks go off in my head and I can’t think properly and then I look at you and I feel
and I think about you and Laura and me and the redhead and the driver takes a bend too fast and I hate you, I hate you, so I shove the side of your head and it smashes straight through the glass and there’s blood everywhere and there’s an evil-looking shard buried into your neck and you slump to the floor and oh shit what did I just do and you’re dead, you’re fucking dead. The girls start screaming and the guide slams on the breaks. ‘What the fuck happened?’ he yells, and I say that you banged your head on the window as the jeep turned the corner and you went through it. The fireworks have vanished, replaced by a cold mist that settles all over me. I can’t stop shivering, despite the heat, and my stomach is churning.
Later, you’re taken away somewhere and I’m driven to a hotel. I have to call your parents. Your Mum sobs down the phone. I love your Mum, she’s always been so nice to me, and as I think that I feel my guts lurch. As quick as I can I apologise, hang up and sprint to the bathroom to puke.
Guilt towers over me, roaring angrily, ravenously. It has me cornered and it’s going to devour me, over and over and over again.