With Josh gone, I don't know what to do anymore. I know we were together for just eleven months, but it felt so right. I guess it always feels right at the beginning – if it didn't, you wouldn't press on. Art is my final class of the day but I'm not really with it. We're supposed to be painting the still life in front of us – a mish-mash of fabrics, fruit, stuffed birds and the top half of a mannequin – but my mind isn't on it. Everyone has made some progress but I still have a pure white canvas staring back at me.
I pick up a paintbrush and continue to think about Josh. It's been a week now. I had a few days off school for it but because I'm not family or anything, I can't get compassionate leave or anything. I've just got to press on. It's hard to think of him laughing and joking now I've seen him with his blood and brains smeared across the front of his car. My leg still twinges a bit from where it was caught under the dashboard, but it's not severely damaged.
Then, an image flashes into my head. I picture Josh as he was when he turned up for our first date, dressed in a blue cashmere sweater, clutching a large sunflower, his soft fringe falling sexily over his right eye. That's the image I want to keep of him. I pick up a pencil and begin to sketch it onto the canvas.
The bright colours sum Josh up. I don't think I ever saw him wear plain black, or just a white t-shirt. There was always a pattern or a splash of colour. I sketch in his hair as Samantha, our well-meaning but dotty teacher, walks past.
"That's not exactly what's in front of you, Becky," she says. But I don't care. I pretend not to hear her and she seems to understand. Everyone knows the story, of course. I get the impression that other people are trying to look at what I'm drawing now, guessing that it's Josh. I dip my paintbrush in the blue and begin colouring in his jumper.
Fifteen minutes later, the bell rings and everyone scuffles for the exit. I don't get up and simply continue to paint. He's beginning to take shape. Samantha and I are the only ones left in the classroom. I can see that she wants to leave.
"You can go," I say, our roles momentarily reversed. "I'll lock up and take the keys to reception when I leave." Samantha looks worried but her features soften and she nods gently, placing the keys on her desk.
"It'll be OK, Becky," she says quietly. "Take your time, and I'm always here if you need someone to talk to."
"Thank you," I say, but I don't look up or stop painting. I'm in the zone and I want to focus. She leaves and the door clicks quietly behind her. I decide I will stay until I have completely finished. I don't leave things half done, the way Josh left our relationship, even though it wasn't his fault. I feel my stomach twinge. I hate it when she kicks.