The radio clock on the bedside table screams to life as it hits six thirty. Naomi groans as she sits up and rubs the crusty deposits from her eyes. She stretches out her limbs as she rolls over towards the edge of the king-size bed.
A thud and a yelp - from Loopy - has Naomi cringing in sympathy; having just kicked the dog off the bed, she looks at the black and white heap laying tangled up on the bedroom floor, trying to right itself.
"Serves you right for sneaking onto the bed during the night."
The black and white furball growls and Naomi reaches down to help untangle Loopy's legs whilst trying not to laugh. After a few moments of struggling the dog eventually recovers and is off to the back door in a flash. Naomi wanders through the house - yawning and stretching indulgently. Loopy prances around anxiously at the door.
Opening the door for the dog she turns and heads for the kitchen where she sets out some food in Loopy's bowl. A few minutes later the tapping of paws on the floor announces Loopy's return from her call of nature. Smelling the food, she breaks into a sliding run and, unable to gain any purchase on the smooth kitchen floor, she slides straight into the door on one of the kitchen cupboards.
Turning away as she sees the dog bury her head in the food bowl, Naomi walks to the backdoor, closing and locking it, then heads to the bathroom for her shower.
She strips off and steps into the shower, listening to the hum of the unit and whirring extractor fan as she allows the water to flow over her head. Her mind drifts as she considers the day ahead; work and then home, just like every other fucking day, she thinks angrily.
Connor's twisted face appears in her mind and the anger drains away, Naomi is left feeling useless and afraid. She watches in her mind as his expression distorts into a malicious grin.
Looks just like that day when he... when he... she gulps and slowly forces the image away. Gradually it fades and she shakes her head; angry with herself that she is allowing him to affect her like this. Allowing him to turn her into a prisoner in her own home.
Focusing intently, she blocks out all thoughts of her predicament and finishes washing herself. Stepping out, she grabs a towel, catching a glimpse of herself in the full length mirror on the wall. She looks at the curve of her hips and the hour-glass shape she works so hard to keep and now, for the first time in her life, she wishes she were someone else, somewhere else.
The Naomi in the mirror looks healthy, beautiful, carefree... No sign of the tears welling up in the eyes of the real Naomi, no sign of the scars from her past.
She sighs heavily.
It takes another major effort to finish drying off and leave the echoic silence of the bathroom. Continuing to dodge any conscious reflections she manages to get dressed for work. She puts her hair up and adds a light dusting of make up to her cheeks before leaving.
Naomi triple checks that the door is locked before heading to her car. Looking around slowly, she feels her chest tighten as she spots a man-shaped shadow behind a car parked near the sidewalk in front of her house. The air she sucks in just doesn't reach her lungs as panic sets in.
"Oh, hi Naomi," says the shadow as it steps out from behind the car. "... You off to work?"
Naomi relaxes a little as she recognises her neighbour, she gives a wave to buy herself time as her heart feels like it has taken up residence in her throat.
"Hi," she eventually croaks out. "Yeah, I am, unfortunately."
She hopes he can't see that the smile doesn't quite reach her eyes, she prays he can't see the stress lines she imagines are now carved on her face or the rucksacks forming under her eyes. She waves again and climbs into the car, starts the engine and pulls out of the driveway trying to get herself into the mindset for another week of work.