Celine sat up in bed, startled. ‘What the hell’s that?’
Pieter also sat up sharply, he’d been half asleep, exhausted from a disturbed night’s sleep. ‘What?’
‘Those marks on your back. They weren’t there last night.’ Her dark eyes pulsed in the dim glow of dawn, her thin lips were drawn tight with restrained emotion. Pieter saw fear and anger in her eyes and liked neither.
‘What marks?’ he felt behind him, an awkward wrestling tussle with his own body, trying to reach where her eyes were intimating there was a problem. His fingers encountered a raised ridge of warped skin, a couple of centimetres across and apparently reaching far up and down his back.
‘What is it?’ Celine asked again, she was starting to annoy him now.
‘I don’t know. Is it from last night? I don’t remember you scratching me.’
Celine pulled away and tumbled out of the bed, backing away from him as if he was suddenly a threat to her. ‘I didn’t.’
Pieter frowned, feeling again the length and height of the scar tissue, then switched on the bedside lamp. ‘What does it look like?’ he asked, appealing to Celine to come back to him.
Slowly she edged round to his side of the bed, her hands clasped in front of her, her naked body extra white and shaking slightly with shock and chill. She peered closely at his back, her hands hovering over the scar but not quite touching it.
Pieter strained to see her face but could not read her expression. ‘Well?’
‘Does it hurt?’ she countered.
‘No. I can’t feel it at all. If you hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t know it was there.’
‘It’s deep. It looks like it has been almost welded together. It looks like it’s been healing for a long time.’
There was a silence as both parties pondered this information.
‘Well?’ Celine finally broke the silence, a sharpness to her voice that Pieter disliked and had rarely heard before. She sat down in the armchair next to the open window, the curtains blowing occasionally in the slight morning draft.
‘What do you want me to say? I don’t know what it is or how it got there.’
They were at stalemate.
Without saying another word Celine rose, picked up her dressing gown from the floor at the foot of the bed, and headed towards the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind her.