A short Story
Wine and toast
“I’m leaving you.”
That’s all it was, three little words, quite harmless on their own, damaging when put together.
I sit there amazed, too stunned to reply, he looks blankly at me, like he’s waiting for me to explode into a rage, or maybe he expects me to crumple into a heap of wailing and tears, begging him to stay.
But I can’t; in fact, I can’t manage anything, the next hour Ray runs about the house gathering the things that he deems necessary.
“Have you seen my shirt,” He calls out, from the bedroom “you know the one?”
“It’s on the ironing board,” I responded. This is surreal, here he is leaving me, and he can’t even find his own bloody shirt.
“Look after yourself.” He says as he finally leaves the house, no thank you for the last twenty-one years. No mention of what is supposed to happen next, or who will have the dog, or what about the summer holidays that we usually spend at the sea-side Bach.
I phone work,
“Yes.” Pat says, “There is no point coming in if you aren’t feeling well, take some cold tablets, they always work for me.” She says cheerily, Pat, our receptionist, is never short on advice, I can’t bring myself to tell her that Ray has left.
The rest of the day I spend pottering around the house, I put on a load of washing, and iron the clothes, except Ray’s favourite shirt, which he has already taken. For dinner, I prepare enough for both of us, and it is not until I have set the table for two and sat down that it hits me, this time, he’s not late for dinner, he’s not coming home at all.
I look at the beef casserole that I have prepared, and my appetite desserts me.
The rest of the night, I wander around the house like I’m in some kind of shock; I try to ponder, ‘What have I done wrong? Why has he gone? Who should I call?’
It’s 1am and I ring our/my daughter Julie, “Hello” her sleepy voice answers. I’m silent on the end, afraid that if I try to speak, I will start to cry. “Hello!” She asks again,
“Who is it?” a male voice in the background asks.
“Julie it’s me,” I whisper, finally, feeling like I have control over my emotions.
“Mum?” she asks for confirmation.
“Yes dear,” I replied. I tried hard to hide the quiver in my voice.
“Is everything okay?” she asks, concern running through her voice, “Is dad alright, something wrong with dad?” The words stab me to the core.
“Yes honey,” I replied, “your father’s okay.”
“Why are you ringing? It’s one in the morning.” She asks; she knows me well enough to know that I wouldn’t ring her unless there was something really wrong.
“It’s…” I struggled to vocalize what had happened. “Your dad and I have separated,” I say, what I really wanted to say was that your father has left for some bimbo, but I apportion some of the blame to myself.
“I’m coming around.” She says.
“Oh no, dear, I’ll be fine,” I say, but by now the tears have started, and like a dam that has burst through the wall, I have no way of stopping them.
An hour later and we are both sitting at the table, Julie makes me a cup of tea. We talk, or at least she talks, and I cry until the sun peeks above the hills.
Julie has located him, he’s shifted in with Lynda, my friend and confidante for years, she and James split up a year ago, it didn’t take her long to get her claws in.
I spoke to Mike, my boss, and I have taken three weeks of annual leave. I couldn’t bear to face Pat, she means well, but she is not what I need at the moment.
Anger has stages; it has been a week since he left, and a cocktail of self-pity, mixed with indignation and rage starts to boil in my soul.
He rang this morning; it was the first time that I have heard from him.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“Good,” I responded. Terrible is what I’m really thinking.
“I’ll be around tonight to gather the rest of my things.” He says matter of factly, and then quickly hangs up the phone.
I wander about the house, finding everything of Ray’s and by the middle of the day, a large pile of his possessions lay in a heap on the garage floor.
By three that afternoon, I’ve gathered every last scrap of his, I look at it, and then the rage starts to form in my belly, it comes from deep down, at first I try to repress it, but finally, give in.
His snow skis I tried to cut in half with the saw but the bloody thing just scratched the edges. The golf clubs get pulled out from the trundler and each one is placed carefully on the step, and then I jump on them, bending them out of shape.
I hear a noise on the garage roof, rain is starting to fall, I open the door, and throw everything out in the rain, I get soaked in the meantime, but I don’t care.
I have learned that hate and love are reflections of one another; the mirror opposite, the heights that love can take you, hate can plunge you to the same depths.
I sat at the window and watched as he gathered his things in the rain. I felt guilty for just a moment as he looked at his high school pictures, the rain turning the board into a soggy mess.
He had the good sense to stay out there.
A letter arrived from his lawyer, he sent it registered mail, and it sat unopened on the benchtop for a day until I finally got the courage to tear it open.
It was a cordial, unemotional disentanglement from twenty-one years of life. Everything that we ever had was cast aside in that letter, the struggles, joys, watching our only child at school concerts, all tossed away, like some unwanted by-product of life.
I have yet to analyse my role in this, self-judgement/crucifixion will arrive soon enough
Einstein’s equation for singleness *
Isn’t it funny, Me plus You equals We. We, another little word, but now it’s We minus You that equal Me.
I sit in the bed, it’s after midday, and I brush the crumbs of toast from my nighty, taking a sip from a wine glass, a strange combination, toast and wine.
And I ponder my future.
I think about his stuff in the rain, and I think “Fuck him”
Captivating reading Carl