Silent Woman

When he had first met Eva, she had been as talkative as the average woman.

They had talked about everything, although she was always a bit less forthcoming about her family background. He assumed that there was some sensitivity there. She had come to the city to find work as a paralegal, and hoped eventually to upgrade her qualifications.

There seemed no reason why they should not start living together, since they got on very well. And, maybe because she was a bit of a country girl, she seemed happy to “look after” him, cooking and doing his washing. His colleagues noticed that he was better presented at the office, and the women assumed that he had found a girlfriend who wanted him to look as good as possible for work.

Everything was good, except that she stopped being so talkative. In fact, she became downright taciturn. It was not that she was resentful, he ascertained as far as possible. Nor, she said, was she depressed. She was just awfully quiet.

Jack had learned to be nervous of silent women. He preferred to be getting the regular stream of consciousness that his earlier girlfriends had supplied him with. Still, it was a change.

It was not as if she was not cuddly and affectionate, besides their sexual moments. She liked to snuggle up to him in the evening and in the morning before they had to get up. He used to tell her to mind his ribs, because he had broken one on the left side shortly before in a surf accident, and it was still a bit tender.

“I don’t want to take you for granted”, he once said, sure that he had read advice somewhere in a magazine that women hate being taken for granted.

“I don’t mind. I told you. I don’t mind being taken for granted. Don’t fuss”, she had said. “We should feel totally comfortable with each other by now”.

He really started to wonder though one evening, when they had invited a friend of his around for dinner.

“I will just cook and serve dinner”, she had said. “Don’t mind me. I will leave you men to your talk. Not cramp your style.”

“Are you sure?”, he checked, puzzled.

“Yeah, sure I am sure. Tell Eric I will be around but not joining you. He is a nice fellow, but I don’t feel like socialising tonight”.

“You hardly ever do”, he replied.

Still, that was what she did. Totally silent, she waited on them at table, only offering a slight smile when Eric made to thank her, praise the meal, or indeed engage with her in any way.

“That’s a quiet girl you have there”, Eric said when she had left the room to get coffee.

“Oh, she is just going through some phase. I think it is OK”, Jack replied.

After Eric left, Jack went to their bedroom, slightly the worse for wear after about a bottle of wine. He wasn’t drunk but he was quite buzzed. Eva was still awake, reading, and seemed fine. He was relieved.

Not only was she fine, she was really affectionate. They made love, and afterwards she nestled in very tightly under his left arm.

Just before he fell into a confused sleep, he felt a very sharp stabbing pain in his chest. She must, he thought, have squeezed him a bit too hard and his rib was still not quite healed.

He woke up with a hangover. That made sense. But Eva was gone. That made no sense. There were no signs of her, and no note.

He called in sick at work. She must, he decided sadly, have cleared out. Perhaps something had been eating at her after all. He found that the information she had given him on her family was far too sketchy to allow him to locate them to check about her whereabouts. And Jack had not known Eva very long and they had very few mutual friends.

With so few leads, he soon had to give up. She had left all her clothes and other things, which was odd. He made a report to the police but they didn’t seem terribly interested. No recent reports of concern involving young women had been made. Eventually, he gave away all her stuff to an op shop. The staff on duty were not surprised and quite happy to take it. “They belonged to a friend of mine”, he said, hoping they would not think he was some weirdo crossdresser or something.

Life went on, and he put it all down to experience. He had really liked Eva, but there were plenty more girls in the city, after all. New ones arriving all the time, even in his office.

It was a couple of weeks later when he went back for a follow-up X-ray of his injured chest, and his GP called him in for the results.

“I can hardly see where the break was now”, she said. “Amazing really. Do you mind if I keep these films? I want to show some colleagues.”

“No, that is fine. No problem”, Jack responded.

“Yes, amazing”, she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “If I didn’t know better, I would say you had a completely new rib”.

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