By Alan Beach

Alan is a serving Detective Sergeant and Intelligence officer in the Cambridgeshire Constabulary.  A former Royal Marines Commando, he has years of military experience.  All proceeds from his Iraq set action novel, 'The Persian Gambit', when it is published will be donated to Help for Heroes.  He has also written a children's adventure story.

Did I know? Of course I did. How could I not have, the signs were all there, looking back.  Being in denial seemed to be the easier option. How often do we all pretend there's nothing wrong in our lives, no cracks showing in relationships? Just to get by, for self preservation, the optimist hoping to overcome the pessimist?

"We're all going to town, a friend's band is playing. Do you want to come?" staring in the living room mirror she slowly brushed her hair momentarily pausing as if waiting for an answer.

It wasn't what she had said, more the way she had said it. Having been away for sometime this wasn't the welcome I had hoped for.   

 The waiting smiles from her friends slipped into wide eyed surprise at my presence. The band soon opened up with their cover of Led Zeppelins "Stairway To Heaven".

"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold

And she's buying a stairway to heaven." 

All eyes were on him, until I noticed the furtive glances at me and then to her and then following them back to the man with the hair. He wasn't singing to the audience and he certainly wasn't singing to me. Transfixed, she was the only one not joining in the conspiratorial looks around our table. With an unseen hand turning the vice around my chest, it felt like there was just three of us in the room and I was the elephant in the corner.

"When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed

With a word she can get what she came for.

Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven."

She doesn't need a stairway she could plait his lank greasy hair and make a bloody rope ladder I mumbled.

I finished my beer,"great song."

She didn't answer nor did she turn as I walked out.

I lied, I hated the song.