Gwen walked across Roald Dahl Plas in the late afternoon gloom. She avoided the worst of the puddles that had accumulated after hours of heavy rain.
The woman was sitting on a bench near the Millennium Centre. She was wearing a short coat, but her head was bare and her hair soaked. Her skirt was wet, too, and her shoes. She didn’t seem aware of her own discomfort or potential death from exposure.
"You’re Beatrice Prentice, aren't you?" she said as the woman looked up at her with a pale, sad face. "We’ve been looking for you all day."
"Are you police?” Beatrice didn’t seem frightened by that, more like relieved, as if she wanted it to be over.
"No, Torchwood. Come on. We’ve got warm rooms and hot tea. That has to be better than sitting here in the cold."
"Do you know what I’ve done?" Beatrice asked.
"We've got a fair idea. But we would like to hear your side of the story."
Beatrice nodded and stood up. Gwen took her arm gently but firmly. If she changed her mind and tried to run she had a gadget in her pocket that, when applied to any exposed flesh rendered the subject unconscious. Gwen hoped she wouldn't have to use it. It would be so much better and safer if Beatrice came willingly.
She was too weary and dispirited to put up any resistance. She didn't even wonder why she was being walked down to the tourist office on mermaid quay instead of to a van or car to take her to some kind of secure unit.
Ianto was waiting in the office. He stepped beside Gwen and her prisoner as Beth, behind the counter, pressed the button that opened the secret door. He escorted them through the dimly lit corridor to the lift down to Hub Central.
Jack was there with a set of restraints ready. Gwen shook her head firmly.
"I’m taking her to the bathroom for a change of clothes and a hair dryer, first," Gwen insisted. "Make sure there's a mug of hot, sweet tea in the interview room."
Jack was surprised to be countermanded by Gwen. He opened his mouth to protest but changed his mind. He was being overruled by a force greater than man - even immortal man- a determined woman.
"Ok," he said. "But Alun is monitoring. Any funny business and we're coming in, women's room or not.”
He shook his head in bewilderment as Gwen took the prisoner, unrestrained, to the bathroom. Torchwood had got soft lately. Time was a prisoner came in fully restrained, softened up in a cell surrounded by weevils and other weird stuff before an interrogation that could and usually did include electric shocks and a very unpleasant mind probe.
Even the name of the place where interrogation went on had now been softened to 'interview room'.
Jack remembered the ‘good old days’ fondly before remembering that bringing Gwen into the fold was his idea.
Ianto made the tea and had it waiting in the 'interview room'. Anticipating Gwen's mood he also removed the manacles and chair restraints. Jack rolled his eyes and demanded strong black coffee as he took a seat in what used to be an intimidating setting.
Presently Gwen brought a much drier bit still very tense and worried prisoner into the room. She fussed - unnecessarily on Jack’s opinion - about whether the woman was comfortable. Finally she sat down and got on with the interrogation – sorry, interview!
“As I said before," Gwen began. “We have a good idea about what happened from the police reports, but it would be useful to have your side of the story."
"Useful…. useful to who?" Beatrice asked. "To... who did you say you were?”
"Torchwood," Jack growled. "We keep a close eye on people who can kill by remote telekinesis."
"Is that what happened ?" Beatrice asked, her scared eyes widening. "There’s actually a word for it? It’s happened before... to other people?"
"Don't worry about that," Gwen told her. "Just start from the beginning."
The beginning of it was less than a week after their wedding, the first time Barry had hit her over some trivial thing. Three years on she was getting used to it. She worked tirelessly to ensure that nothing was out of place or not to his liking, his clothes laundered, the house tidy, his meals on time.
But most days there was something. Last night it was his silk shirt, the one he planned to wear at the meeting in Aberystwyth. She had ironed it and hung it over a bedroom chair. Somehow it had fallen down. He threw it at her and demanded that it was ironed again. She pointed out that it was fine, but he swore there were wrinkles. She ironed it twice more and he still wasn't satisfied.
The third time, to punish her, he slammed the iron down on her hand. It was on a low setting for silk, but even so it burnt the skin on the back of her hand. She cried in pain as she treated the wound from the first aid kit in the kitchen. It was a well stocked kit. She had treated many injuries from it that probably should have been seen by a doctor. But if she took the time to go to a&e his dinner would be late or his shirts unwashed and it would be worse in the long run.
Gwen stopped the interview long enough to look at the wound under the bandage on Beatrice’s right hand. She looked pointedly at jack who summoned Ianto with a first aid kit containing a lotion Owen Harper had retro engineered from alien tech. It would repair a wound like that in twenty four hours. Ianto gently cleaned and treated the burn and applied the lotion before bandaging expertly. Beatrice thanked him.
"All part of the service, " Ianto replied with his most disarming smile. It earned him a scowl from jack who still wanted Beatrice to know she was a prisoner, but Gwen gave him a grateful look that made up for it.
She had still been crying when he came to bed. He wanted sex, of course. She let him. She had read a leaflet once about marital rape and the right to say no, but Beatrice knew it didn't apply to her. It was for other women whose husbands took no for an answer.
She cried silently after that, because otherwise he would have hit her for keeping him awake when he had to ne up early for the drive to Aberystwyth.
The alarm went off at five thirty - not for him, for her to get up and cook his breakfast. He came downstairs at six to find everything on the table waiting for him. Of course, he found fault. The bacon was too crisp, the egg yolk runny, the toast under done. He reminded her constantly of how useless she was.
No matter how little time he had he never failed to remind her of that, and how much she disappointed him.
"If I’m so useless why don't you leave?" she asked, finding an ounce of courage from somewhere.
"This is my house. I pay the mortgage. I’m not going anywhere."
"Then I’ll leave," she suggested. “Since you hate me so much.
"You will not. This is where you belong, for better or for worse." He grasped her hand, squeezing her ring finger until the plain gold wedding ring crushed it painfully. "You stay right here and do as you're told. If you try to leave. I’ll make you more sorry than you can imagine."
He let go of her hand before slapping her hard around the side of the face. He only rarely hit her on the face, where it would show. Most of her bruises were under her clothes.
"I noticed, when you were changing," Gwen said. "If you need any more medical attention I can get Ianto back in."
"No, I’m all right." Beatrice looked down at her left hand. The ring was gone. She had pulled it off earlier and thrown it somewhere... somewhere in the street. There was a bruise from where he had squeezed as well as the usual mark from wearing it for so long.
He hadn't hit her again after that, but the cutting words continued until he was ready to leave.
“Get this pigsty of a house cleaned up while I’m out,” he said as he put his coat on and found his car keys. "I don’t know when I’ll be back, but have a meal ready."
"How can I have a meal ready if you don't know when you’ll be back?" Beatrice asked logically.
"Just do it and don't ask stupid questions," he answered before he walked out of the house slamming the door shut behind him. Beatrice sat down and listened to the sound of the car reversing out of the driveway. He was angry and he took it out on the gears, which at least made a change from taking it out on her.
He drove away faster than he ought to have done. Beatrice wondered how she would feel if he crashed the car - if he were fatally injured.
She knew how she would feel - relieved. It would all be over, all this misery, all the bruises, the assaults, the humiliation.
She imagined the scene. She could actually see the place where it would happen. It was a blind corner with trees overhanging making it even worse. Local residents had complained to the council but all they did was put up one of those mirrors and a warning sign. Somebody had crashed into the sign, bending it out of shape and the warning sign had been twisted around so that it didn’t show the oncoming traffic at all.
Yes, it would happen there.
It would happen about now. She could see it, almost as if looking through his eyes – the pain across the chest as the seatbelt tightened, the windscreen shattering, the red mist and then oblivion as unconsciousness and death followed almost instantly.
She sat up and looked around the living room, amazed to find herself there. It had felt so real. She was so certain that her husband actually had died at that very moment.
And she wasn’t sorry, just a little uncertain about what the future held without him there. She might even have been a little scared of what to do with her new freedom.
The first Torchwood heard about the case that was going to take up their whole day was a little after eight when Gwen got a phone call from Andy Davidson, her former police colleague. There was a body at the mortuary that she had to see. It was right up Torchwood’s street.
Jack was sceptical – as ever – about PC Plod's ability to recognize something worth Torchwood's attention. Gwen berated him for his attitude and reminded him that Andy was a sergeant now and had been useful many times in Torchwood’s work.
Jack was being stubborn this morning and kept up the sarcasm about the reliability of South-Wales Police as a body.
But he let her meet Andy at the mortuary, and he sent Ianto with her, armed with a camera if there was anything worth keeping on file for future reference and the authority to ship the body back to the Hub if there was anything REALLY interesting.
After resisting the instinct to throw up violently, Gwen 's second reaction to the body of Thomas Paul Prentice was that it absolutely WAS worth Torchwood’s intervention. Ianto had immediately arranged for it to be shipped, but he took photographs from every conceivable angle in case the important details were lost in transit. Gwen just reeled in shock that any Human being could end up looking like that.
"What the hell happened to him?" she asked. "His head looks like...."
Attending road accidents was the daily work of young police officers. She and Andy had seen just about the worst it was possible to see of flesh and metal mangled together at high speed. Gwen had never forgotten having to pick up a motor cycle helmet that had rolled fifty yards with the cyclist's head still in it.
But this was worse. The closest thing she could think of was a watermelon dropped from a great height - and that didn’t begin to account for the mess of blood, skull fragments and liquefied brain tissue running all over the mortuary table.
"This isn't consistent with road traffic impact," Andy said in the tone of one who had given evidence at too many inquests. "it’s not a brain fracture caused by the head smashing against a steering wheel or dashboard. Besides, the airbag deployed. Most of the brain had to be left in it.”
Gwen agreed. It looked more like…
“It’s more like the brain exploded out of the skull... like... like.....”
She had no terms of reference for that sort of thing.
"Scanners," Ianto suggested.
"Yes, " Andy agreed. "Like that.”
“Come again?” Gwen felt she was missing an important cultural reference. Perhaps it was a man thing.
“Scanners… is an old sci-fi film….” Andy began.
“Made in nineteen-eighty-one, directed by David Cronenberg, the master of ‘body horror’,” Ianto added, all of which Gwen really didn’t need to know.
“It’s about people with really dangerous psychic powers. There’s a scene where a man’s head swells up like a balloon and then explodes,” Andy continued, more helpfully. “It looked like this.”
“We live in a science fiction horror with the stuff that we get at Torchwood,” Gwen told them both, scoldingly. “We don’t need to watch them make it up.”
“It was back in my student days,” Ianto answered defensively.
And yet he recalled the year it was made and the director. That was one of the impressive things about Ianto.
“So are we suggesting that somebody made this man’s head explode by… I don’t know… some kind of psychic murder?”
“We… could be,” Ianto conceded. “We know that remote telekinesis exists. Torchwood has done extensive studies. It wouldn’t be the first time it has been used as a murder weapon.”
“That may be true,” Andy conceded. “But I’m not going to put in my report that this RTA was actually murder by remote tele... whatever you said.”
“No, you probably shouldn’t,” Gwen agreed. “Don’t mention that you called me, either. Just tell DI Temple that Torchwood turned up out of the blue and took the body, our usual arrogant, ‘beyond the law’ thing.”
“‘Bloody Torchwood’,” Andy grinned, relieved both that he hadn’t wasted Gwen’s time and that he didn’t have to tell anyone in his own department that this was anything unusual. “I don’t know if it’s anything for you to worry about, but the other weird thing about this case was the wife. When I went to see her…."
Gwen shuddered. That was the other stock work that she hated. She’d done plenty of those visits both with Andy and with members of the Torchwood team.
Andy knew just what she was thinking.
"You know the usual pattern,” he said to her. “Shock, confusion, disbelief, tears, a bit of anger directed at us for being the bearers of bad news...."
"Yes." Gwen knew well enough.
"This woman... Mrs Prentice.... I swear she had been crying already.... and when I told her... it was as if the sun had come out. She tried to act shocked, but she wasn't doing a very good job of it.”
"You mean she already knew he was dead?”
"That… and she was glad he was dead."
"That’s ....well... I don’t know. Has she seen the body?"
"’I told her it wasn’t necessary. We had plenty of evidence to ID the body with. I mean… we couldn’t… not like that. I mean… would you want to?" Andy nodded towards the plastic container Ianto was sealing the body into for transportation. "I mean... I didn’t mean ... if it was....." Andy gave up talking after realising how many times he has said ‘I mean’ and still wasn’t sure if he had conveyed his meaning fully.
Gwen got his meaning but wasn’t ready to picture Rhys on a mortuary slab in any circumstances, let alone her reaction to identifying his body.
"Even if it was my worst enemy I would n’t want to see that," she admitted. "Yes, odd reaction, but at this stage I can’t imagine that the wife could be involved in what happened. Not unless she is a very powerful telepath and hates his guts.”
“That’s not outside the realm of possibility,” Ianto pointed out. “Perhaps we ought to visit the not so grieving widow and find out if she knows anything that explains this unexplained TWS.”
"TWS?" Andy queried.
"Torchwood Weird Shit,” Gwen translated. “It’s our term for things that need further investigation before we can fully categorise them… ”Anomalies, that sort of thing.”
“What, like Welsh people who vote Tory?” Andy suggested.
“Oh, those are way beyond our help,” Gwen replied. “Anyway, let me know if you find out anything else about Mr Prentice – or his wife.”
Andy said he would, though it was unlikely. As an ordinary RTA his interest ended once the next of kin was informed. He’d be onto something else once he reported in to his superior. For a moment as he watched the two Torchwood operatives escorting the body he wished he could impress Jack Harkness enough to be picked as one of that team.
Then he remembered how complicated things were for Gwen and knew he had it easy after all.
When the police had gone, Beatrice took a shower and got dressed. Despite being up early she was now running late. She hurried to the bus stop and missed the one that was waiting by a second. She knew the driver had seen her, but they were selfish bastards and didn't give a damn about anyone.
The next one was twenty minutes later and crowded. She had to stand most of the way.
She was nearly an hour late by the time she got to work.
It was ironic, really, that Tom never objected to her having a job outside the home for all that he derided her for sloppy housework. As long as it was only part time and she was home before him, he had no objection to her earning the money that paid for the food shopping and the utility bills – everything he dismissed as ‘domestic’. It meant that he could keep more of his own salary in his savings account.
And she enjoyed the job at the university library. She liked feeling she still belonged to an academic institution. She had given up her degree course after her marriage. Tom didn’t think it was necessary for her to be qualified. Of course not. Being his slave didn’t need a degree in literature.
She enjoyed the job except for her supervisor, Jackie Blackwood, who was a complete bitch and a bully – another one to spoil the one bright spot in her life.
“Where the hell have you been?” Jackie demanded almost as soon as she entered the staff room. “Don’t think you’re going to get paid for work you haven’t done.”
“I couldn’t help it,” Beatrice said. “There were… things… going on at home.”
“Rubbish,” Jackie responded. “You don’t even have kids. There’s no excuse for being late.”
She could have mentioned that her husband had just been killed in a car accident, but she wasn’t sure it would have made much difference. It would be one more thing for Jackie to taunt her with. The remark about her having no children was a deliberate taunt that she had used before to imply that there was something wrong with Beatrice’s marriage.
Beatrice would have liked children, but Tom didn’t want anyone else commanding her attention in the home. She was there to serve him and nobody else. Besides, what kind of life would a child have with him as a father.
Still, the taunts were cruel and they went deep.
Today, they went deeper than ever.
“Shut up,” Beatrice answered. “Just shut your ugly, fat, disgusting mouth. I have had enough of you and your attitude. I won’t be bullied any more.”
“You’re on report,” Jackie countered. “For insubordination and bad attitude.”
“Drop dead,” Beatrice came back. “Just… drop dead you hard-hearted bitch.”
She turned and walked out of the staff room with Jackie calling behind her that she was fired. Actually, it wasn’t her job to do hiring and firing. That was a matter for the university board, but by the time she had put in her report about ‘attitude’ it wouldn’t make much difference.
She liked that job. It was one more thing that had been taken away from her by spite and malice.
She hated Jackie Blackwood with every fibre in her being. She hated her more than she had come to hate Tom. At least there had been love there for a short while. The hurt came from the betrayal of that love. Jackie had been a mean, small-minded, spiteful bitch from the very first day for no reason except that she was a supervisor with a small amount of power over a small number of lesser employees.
And she really meant it about her dropping dead. She really wanted it to happen, right there and then in the middle of the staff room where she had left her shouting her suddenly ineffectual threats.
If the shout had gone to any other police officer in South Wales Police, the connection might never have been made. Nobody other than Sergeant Andy Davidson would have called Torchwood to look at the sudden death of a librarian at Cardiff University.
Gwen and Ianto walked through the strangely quiet library – even quieter than such places ought to be, past staff members shocked into silence who watched the ‘special ops’ people walk by, past the constable Andy had posted at the staff room door, only too aware that it used to be his job only a few years ago.
The body had been covered with a piece of cloth, a tablecloth or something easily to hand, but the blood had already soaked through. There was a pool of it spreading over the carpet. Gwen had a weirdly off-topic thought about how hard it would be to get the stain out before concentrating on the fact that somebody had died in a way that made it a Torchwood matter.
When Andy nodded to another uniformed constable and the cloth was pulled back, she had to resist the impulse to throw up for a second time today.
The woman had died of heart failure – on account of the fact that her heart had burst out of her body, and was lying on top of her chest, still attached to the arteries but no longer pumping blood.
The film allusion this time came readily to mind, even though she had only seen the first Alien once and been so repulsed by it that she never watched any of the sequels.
“Her heart… just burst out of her chest… like….”
“It’s what the witnesses said,” Andy confirmed. “They say she didn’t die immediately… she was alive… and awake… aware of what was happening… for several minutes.”
“Oh my God!” Gwen’s imagination shut down for the sake of her own sanity. She didn’t want to think about what it must be like to die that way.
“It IS another TWS, isn’t it?” Andy said to her as Ianto began making arrangements for another sealable container for a body that was going straight to the Hub, bypassing the hospital mortuary altogether. “Nothing NORMAL can do this.”
“Not… not even if she’d had open heart surgery before now and… somehow the stitches burst….” That was the only possibility that Gwen could think of, and it was medically absurd. That sort of thing didn’t happen.
“It’s TWS,” Ianto confirmed.
“Do we know what she was doing before….” Gwen asked.
“Arguing with another member of staff,” Andy answered, checking his notes. Then his face flushed and then paled immediately. For a horrible moment Gwen thought something TWS was about to happen to him, too. “That other member of staff… was called Beatrice Prentice.”
For a moment Gwen didn’t make the connection, then her eyes widened.
“The woman whose husband’s head exploded!” she gasped.
“Could be a coincidence….” Andy said that because it somehow had to be said, but even he didn’t believe it.
“We NEED to talk to her,” Gwen decided. “You and I, Andy – Torchwood and police. We’ll both go. Ianto, are you ok taking the body back to the Hub?”
“No problem,” he answered. “Just don’t find any more bodies for a while. Martha will have enough on her plate when this one arrives.”
Gwen promised to do her best. She meant it both in fulfilling Ianto’s grim request and in doing her duty as Andy would recognise it, tracking down and questioning Beatrice Prentice.
Both proved impossible. Since she clearly wasn’t at work and hadn’t gone home again, Gwen and Andy had no idea where to start looking for her. Questioning the neighbours proved fruitless. None of them knew anything about the quiet, withdrawn woman who never went out to the pub or bingo or any other social activity with them, who was never round their houses for a cuppa and a gossip. None of them knew if she had any hobbies or interests outside her home. She didn’t go to church and when they did track down her GP she hadn’t gone there since last autumn’s flu jab drive.
Meanwhile Andy heard over his police radio of two more unexplained deaths in the city. They were handled by other officers, but he managed to arrange for the bodies to be sent to Torchwood since they fitted that remit coined by Owen Harper before he departed for Glasgow and known simply as TWS.
“What did the woman in the cafe do to deserve what you did to her?” Jack Harkness asked coldly.
“It… was one of those stupid things,” Beatrice answered. “I wanted a cup of tea. I had been walking around the city in a sort of daze…. I knew what had happened to Jackie. I felt… horrified…. I felt… I felt… disbelief… could it really be me who did that?”
Jack glanced at the computer screen in front of him. Of course he was running a lie detector programme and that had told him that the woman was telling him the truth. He was also running a programme that monitored what else was going on in her head. The chemical changes as her emotions ran the full gamut from fear to grief to anger were all abnormal, all unnaturally high. She was a living time bomb that could go off at any moment.
“The woman in the cafe,” he repeated.
“I wanted a cup of tea… that’s all. The thought of eating just made me sick. I just wanted tea. But… they had a rule. No beverages without food purchases after eleven. It was about half a minute after eleven. I begged her, but she insisted on the rules. She called me a tramp and told me to get out of the cafe. I felt so humiliated and angry in front of so many other people in there. And then….”
She had seen it start to happen this time…. the woman’s face turning red, then purple, choking on her own internal organs as they swelled inside her body. Beatrice had run from the cafe before the organic explosion that covered the nearest customers with bloody intestines and pieces of ripped flesh.
“I just wanted a cup of tea,” she insisted.
“I’ve had days like that,” Gwen admitted. She hadn’t been to the café. Jack and Alun attended the scene and shipped the body off to the Hub before administering tea laced with Retcon to the traumatised customers. She had seen some gruesome in-situ photographs, though, and she reminded herself of how serious this situation was even while she recalled plenty of encounters with those sort of people who made other miserable and frustrated every day in petty, unnecessary ways. ‘Eleven o’clock rules’, checkout workers who made a fuss if you had eleven items in the ten items or less aisle, traffic wardens waiting to pounce on a car that was left parked for a minute more than the allotted time. Gwen almost felt that one of them had got their just desserts.
It was possible that Jack thought the same. Had his expression softened a little? Was there almost a ghost of a smile there?
Then he spread the gory images of Beatrice’s first three victims on the table, reminding them all that it was no laughing matter. He put a fourth set of photographs down.
“The police constable who tried to arrest you in Central Market,” Jack said with a renewed level of coldness in his voice.
“He was just doing HIS job - detaining a suspect whose description had been circulated. Gwen used to be a beat copper like him. She was rubbish at it. Too nice… too willing to sit criminals down and give them tea instead of slamming them in a cell. This was another naïve plod just like her who only wanted to stop you doing any more harm, and you made his eyeballs pop out of his head.”
“I was scared,” Beatrice admitted. “He was so young… he looked kind. But he was in uniform and I was scared. I couldn’t help it. I tried to stop it happening, but I don’t even know HOW it happens. I can’t control it.”
“You must have tried,” Gwen told her. “The constable isn’t dead… yet.”
“Don’t get your hopes up,” Jack snapped. “He’s a brain-damaged vegetable on life support and his eyes are in a specimen jar in our medic’s lab. His family are deciding whether to turn the machines off or let him live on indefinitely with no hope of recovery.”
“I’m… sorry,” Beatrice managed. “I really am.”
“Sorry doesn’t bring any of them back,” Jack reminded her.
“I know. That’s why… why I was walking around all day in the rain… trying to keep away from people… hoping I could die before I did any more harm. That’s why I was out there….”
“Looking all over the city all day and you turn up on our doorstep,” Gwen noted.
“What happens now?” Beatrice asked.
Gwen had been wondering the same thing. She had admitted responsibility for three deaths and one terrible wounding, but she couldn’t be convicted of murder or even manslaughter in the ordinary way. No court could hear the evidence Torchwood had gathered.
Jack studied the data on the screen in front of him. It confirmed that she was one of those rare Human beings with powers outside of ordinary scientific understanding. Until today those powers had been latent within her. This morning something had been triggered and an unstoppable force had been unleashed.
Unstoppable was the word. The phrase ‘putting the toothpaste back in the tube’ was too lame but it was the only one that described how impossible it was to control these sort of powers once they were triggered. Beatrice Prentice was no longer a woman, she was a walking weapon that could go off at any moment.
“Llamidon Hall?” Gwen asked. Jack nodded. The secret wing of the NHS mental institute where Torchwood sent its ‘special cases’ was the obvious place for her. They had rooms with special shielding that blocked telekinetic signals. They could look after her.
“What’s that?” Beatrice asked.
“It’s a good place. They’re kind. They’ll look after you,” Gwen assured her.
“Martha can drive her there,” Jack decided. “Tonight.”
The decision was made. Martha accepted the grim duty of taking Beatrice to the facility and, as Torchwood’s medical officer, signing the documents that committed her to the long term care of its staff. It was, as everyone else had accepted, the best thing for her.
Gwen knew that was true, but as she got ready to go home she kept looking at the CCTV image of Beatrice sitting in a Torchwood cell, quietly waiting for her fate to be sealed. She wondered if there could have been another way. Could somebody have spotted that Beatrice was a victim of domestic abuse before it went so far? Could somebody have stopped the workplace bullying before it reached the point of no return? Could society generally be a bit kinder than it was.
If it couldn’t, how many more people like Beatrice might have days like today?
“Go home, Gwen, stop worrying about things you can’t change,” Jack told her as if he had been reading her mind.
“If we can’t change them, why are we here?” she replied.
“I don’t do existentialist questions this late in the afternoon,” he responded unhelpfully. “Go home,” he repeated. “It’s all any of us can do. That and make a cup of tea after eleven o’clock without making a big deal out of it.”
Gwen went home.