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When I awoke this morning, I felt very sick. I went into the bathroom, lay down in the bath, and waited for my stomach to settle. Polly was banging on the bathroom door – wanting to use the shower, or toilet, or something – but I just pretended not to hear her. Presently, she left the apartment. It was cold in the bath, and so I eventually decided to go and get dressed. I was in my bedroom when the front door began to pound – furiously, relentlessly. I knew it was Claire, Polly’s sister, and I knew that she would be beating at the door until somebody told her to stop. I was not brave enough to answer the door, however – my heart was running up flights of stairs. I went into the living room, took three glasses from the drinks cabinet, and poured out three pints of Tyskie. I then gradually worked my way through the pints, until I felt tipsy and articulate and things seemed suddenly effortless. The door was still pounding, and I went and opened it.

There was barely a moment of surprise before Claire set off.

“You been hitting her, eh? Beating her up?”

“No,” I said. “Please stop banging on my door.”

“Bruises all over her arms and legs!” Claire hissed.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you.”

“Look, please!” Claire pleaded. “This has to stop.”

“I don’t think that you understand,” I said softly. “The vows which a husband makes to a wife, and which a wife makes to a husband, are sacred…”

But Claire had given up. Exasperated, she was trudging off down the stairs. I felt sick again, and so I closed the door, took off my shirt and trousers, and returned to the bath.

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