This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 760 words.
When I finally managed to calm her down, I got to hear what was wrong. Her grandmother had died in the town where she came from, and she had been very close to her. It had been her ex-husband who had called to tell her, as he had got the number from her grandfather. I was a bit surprised at just how upset she was, to be honest. I had cried when all of my grandparents had died, but nothing like the display of grief I had just witnessed. I put it down to different culture or whatever, and suggested that she go up and wash her face while I made her something to drink.
As soon as she came down, she asked me to look online for flights to Lithuania, insisting that she had to go home. I told her it wouldn’t look good with her new job, but she didn’t care, and said she would take some urgent leave due to bereavement. She even started to send her work an email as I was looking at flights. I found a one-way flight from Luton Airport leaving the next afternoon, and she reserved that, paying online with her bank card. Then she asked if I would drive her to the airport, and of course I agreed. The curry was dumped, and I cleaned up the stuff that had leaked as best I could. Justina went upstairs to pack, refusing all offers of food, and I settled for six slices of toast instead of the anticipated Indian feast.
On the way to the airport, I tried to chat about her grandparents in a friendly way, and also asked about her parents. She had already told me her mum was dead, and had been divorced from her dad, who Jusitna had never really known. Apparently, her grandmother had more or less raised her, and the shock of her death had hit her hard. She wanted to get back to her town to help out her grandfather with the funeral, and make sure he was okay. I would like to have askd her a lot more, but she kept crying, so I left it.
In the short time we had been togther, I had deliberately avoided probing into her background. If it was going to work, I had to trust her. There had been some questions that day I took her to Neasden to collect her stuff. Like why wasn’t I allowed in, and why she hardly had any personal posessions. I hadn’t asked them at the time, so I wasn’t about to go backwards now. When we got to Luton, there seemed no point in parking, then hanging around until her flight left. So, I just dropped her outside the terminal, and she kissed me goodbye as she grabbed the holdall off the back seat. “Francis, thank you. I will phone you soon”. At least she hadn’t said “Justina will phone you”.
Then she went into the building, without looking back.
I didn’t hear anything later that night, and spent Sunday worrying that she was alright. That was a new experience for me, missing someone. I gave in at six that night, and sent her a text. Nothing heavy, just checking that she was okay. By the time I went to bed, there was no reply, and I didn’t get to sleep easily.
On the Monday, I phoned my mum, and told her the news. She said all the right things, then told me to leave Justina alone for a couple of days, to let her sort things out. Going home to the house to be on my own felt strange. How soon I had got used to walking in to the smell of food cooking, and a welcome hug and kiss. The place felt small and cold without her standing there, so I phoned up for a pizza delivery and sat checking my phone as I waited for it to arrive. I had eaten three of the four sections when a beep from the phone made me jump, and I grabbed it as if someone was tryng to steal it.
To say I was disappointed with the text was an understatement.
“Dear Francis. The journey was fine, funeral on Thursday. I am busy. Justina. xx”
Not what I had expected from someone I lived with, and claimed to be in love with me. Three beers later, I just rang her number. I knew I was going to get angry if I didn’t speak to her.
It went straight to answerphone.