The Matter With Mary-Jayne

Alexandra Fox

Mary-Jayne is unwell.

She’s moved back to her parents’ home, takes a few days off work, stays in bed. Her mum makes her Heinz tomato soup and buttered-toast, brings her a portable TV.

Mary-Jayne doesn’t feel well at all. Her mum says she’s not surprised. She wouldn’t feel well either. But it’s only to be expected, she could never trust a man who wouldn’t marry her. All this living-together stuff makes it too easy when they want to walk away.

Mary-Jayne’s off sick. Her workmates rally round, chat a bit less, have shorter tea-breaks, cover her work. They understand. They’d feel just the same in her position, must be terrible, don’t know how she copes. That bastard. They don’t mind helping out, for a few days.

Mary-Jayne’s feeling rotten. Of course Karen doesn’t mind listening, nothing else to do this evening. Pour it all out love, tell me about it. I’m all ears. He just went without a word, packed his bags? You poor old thing. Hadn’t she suspected anything at all, heard any rumours about that girl in Kettering? What girl? Didn’t she… that the doorbell? Have to call you back.

She’s not been down the pub for days, doesn’t want to bump into Scott, not when she’s looking so ill. She’s bought a blonding kit, streaked her hair that touch-of-honey shade. Pink-mauve eyeshadow, cheeks hollowed out with blusher, pale shiny lipstick. Isn’t she brave?

Mary-Jayne’s feeling pretty bad, but she’s back at work. Talking to people’s such a help, difficult when they’re Scott’s mates too. Is that memo for Admin? She’ll take it up. No, honestly, it’s all right. She’s got to be sensible. After all, they’re still working in the same building. They’re both adults. She’s got to face her demons, beard the lion in his den. She’ll just pop into the ladies first. Now where’s her bag?

Mary-Jayne’s ill, but it isn’t catching, so why didn’t Tina ask her to her birthday bash? It would’ve been just what she needed to cheer her up.

She’s sick, not right in the head, she’s mental. Scott’s talking to a lawyer friend. What can he do? Every time he turns his head she’s there. Tina’s moved out, she’s that shaken. He’s scared of lifting a saucepan lid in case there’s a bunny boiling. He doesn’t want to spend silly money, but can’t he write a letter, warn her off?

Mary-Jayne’s feeling a bit better. She’s met this bloke, Danny, hockey player. He treats her like fragile porcelain. He’s just what she needs, someone to lean on. He hasn’t asked her to move in yet, but she’s been to his flat; there’s this great kitchen, all cottagy, copper pans on a rack.

Mary-Jayne’s doing OK. She’s lying across the double bed in her dressing-gown, on the phone to Karen. Danny’s rattling pans, air thick with tomatoes, oregano, olive-paste. Who? Scott? Oh, yes, that Scott. Don’t even talk about him. He makes her sick.


Alexandra Fox lives in a village in England. She began writing short stories in January 2004 and has received the first prize in the London Momaya, Peninsular and BBC competitions, BBC, Peninsular and SWIC runner-up places, finalled in the Northern Echo/Orange and BBC/LBF comps, is currently on several shortlists and was commended at Cadenza. She has publications accepted or published in InkPot, Quiet Feather, Aesthetica and many ezines. Lexie writes with Alex Keegan’s Boot Camp. E-mail: lex[at]

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