This time it was somewhere where she couldn't hide it. Just below the right eye, her cheek had swollen into a ripe blue ball. She was aware of the stares and nudges as she walked into the store. She kept her gaze down and went straight to the counter and asked for a painkiller. I fell down the stairs this morning, she explained a little too loudly, It was so dark, I couldn't see very well and I missed the last few steps. The shop assistant nodded with no interest. As she was leaving, she thought she heard a snigger. It was the old neighbour. She wanted to run up to her and tell her, It's not what you think. I really did take a tumble today. Yes, he has a temper. And loses his cool once in a while. That's because his job is so stressful. But this, she wanted to say pointing to the bruise, This is from the fall.
Instead, she looked up and smiled at the neighbour. In defiance. In a show of normality. And walked out with quick steps.