Carla wrapped the tissue around her index finger for the hundredth time that morning. As far as she was concerned, it could well have been the afternoon or the evening; registering those divisions, those little routines like meal times and being vertical or horizontal which marking time through life had become a silent metronome to her. Some things she continued to do automatically; reflexes like putting a tissue in her dressing gown pocket but she had been wearing it for three days now and she hadn’t noticed that the contents were spilling out onto the settee. In fact, they weren’t tissues; those had run out within the first hour as she wasn’t usually one for crying and so didn’t keep a back-up supply. She had grabbed a new packet of toilet rolls on her way back from the bathroom, pulled the curtains together, curled up into the foetal position and put a cushion over her exposed cheek. The toilet roll was half wedged down the side of the seat cushion but it was loose enough to allow for being unravelled every few minutes.
By this time of the morning, Carla would usually have been flicking through the channels waiting for her favourite programme to come on but today, the red standby light remained aglow; the neighbours on the other side of the paper-thin walls were unaccustomed to such silence which was broken only by Carla’s sobbing. Harrold from number thirty tried knocking and peered through the letterbox but there was no response. He decided to leave it. After all, Carla was a young woman and it seemed unlikely that anything catastrophic might have happened.
Three days had passed since Carla’s mother had telephoned with the news. ‘I need to tell you something. Neighbours has been cut from the BBC ’.