One of the stories I wrote for October’s horror book. I found a T-Shirt I hadn’t worn in ages and couldn’t remember whether it was mine or not, and because I am a banal sort of person at times I tweeted about it, prompting the suggestion a creepy story was to be had.
“Mmm?” I say, turning away from her and snuggling down into the nest of blankets.
I should have known she wouldn’t let me get away with it that easily.
“The neckline is wrong,” she says. Her voice seems unnecessarily loud in the quiet dark of the morning, like she’s shouting, although she probably isn’t. “It’s my size, but none of my stuff has a scooped neckline like this.”
I sit up with a sigh, bleary eyed, reaching for my glasses. It’s an early winter morning, and the only light comes from a side lamp with a strange blue bulb, but even with that I can tell there’s nothing the matter with Vicky’s shirt.
“See?” she pulls at it insistently.
“Maybe it’s one of Katie’s?”
This is the only logical explanation I can see – Katie lives in the flat too, maybe she left a shirt in the machine by accident and it got in with our stuff.
Vic seems unconvinced.
“I would have noticed when I put the wash on.”
I resist the temptation to point out she hasn’t put a wash on in about three months, such a proclamation can only end badly for me.
“Maybe I bought it by mistake when I picked up those other t-shirts,” she muses. “Although I’m pretty sure I would have noticed… You’re right, it might be Katie’s. I’ll ask her later on.”
Annoyingly, Katie denies all knowledge of the top, and further to that is clearly quite offended at Vic’s suggestion that they might be the same dress size. Katie’s lost a lot of weight recently after discovering a previously well hidden passion for running round and round the local park in the morning, and has had to replace everything in her wardrobe as a result.
Well, I don’t think she had to, necessarily, but she certainly has.
Vicky puts it down to the fact she must not have worn it in a while, and we say no more about it.
However, a few mornings later I am rudely awakened by a similar sense of bellowed bewilderment regarding a pair of jeans. There is no question of these belonging to Katie, because Katie does not wear jeans (for reasons that were once explained to me, which I promptly forgot).
“Well they aren’t mine,” I say grumpily, pulling the pillow over my head and waiting for her to go away.
The third time it happens, I start to wonder whether there’s something going on here.
“Seriously,” Vic is saying to me, a look of genuinely puzzlement on her face, “have you ever seen this blouse before?”
Of course I have, on her, last week – but I need to be careful about what I say. All sorts of thoughts are flitting through my brain, none of them good – I read an article about early onset dementia last week and it freaked me out.
“It’s one of your work ones, isn’t it?” I suggest.
“No,” she says, “the buttons are different on my work ones. Look, these are round, the ones on my shirt are in little heart shapes.”
“So what are you suggesting?” I ask, “that someone has come in here and swapped your blouse for another one?”
“No-o,” she replies, but she doesn’t sound sure.
“They can’t have switched the buttons, that’d take ages.”
“You aren’t helping.”
I stare at her, a little bit annoyed but mainly just worried. I wonder if there are any pictures of her wearing the thing so I can prove it to her. I’ll have to look online later.
“Vicky,” I decide to take the plunge, “is everything OK with you at the moment?”
“No,” she snaps, “of course it’s not, someone is randomly changing my clothes around, I’m freaking out.”
“Nobody is changing your clothes around,” I sigh, lying back against the pillows.
Her eyes narrow in suspicion.
“It’s you, isn’t it?”
“What? No, don’t be ridiculous,” her face reddens with anger, “it isn’t anyone, Vicky. This is in your head.”
Clearly this is the wrong thing to say, but before my brain engages properly with that thought it’s too late, they’re out there.
Bristling with rage, she takes a deep breath to calm herself. Hands on hips she says softly, “are you seeing somebody else?”
“What, and switching their clothes for yours?” I say sarcastically, “yeah, that’s what happened here. You’re tired, Vic, you need to take some time off work.”
“Fuck you,” she replies, turning on her heel and flouncing out. I hear the front door slam shut a second later – too angry to have her morning coffee, that’s a new one.
Vicky doesn’t come home after work, but gets her sister to send me a text saying she’s going to crash at hers.
I’m not really sure what to do with this information. We’ve argued before, but it’s always been resolved before sundown. In fact, I don’t think we’ve spent a night apart since we got together.
With a sigh, I take the new green t-shirt with the scooped neckline out of its bag and switch it for her V-necked one, which I stuff into the back of the wardrobe.
She’ll be back soon enough.