This story has been on my mind since FOREVER. It was decomposing away in my Drafts Folder that I almost decided to delete it today. I thought I’d give it one last read (we writers are a self-absorbed kind) before pressing the keyboard key that would damn it to the recesses of the Recycle Bin.
But as I read it again, I ended up thinking that it deserved a better fate than the Recycle Bin. So it ended up on the blog.
No wait…that DOES NOT mean that anything which is not trashed ends up on this blog. No sirrreee, this blog only posts the Best of the Best (and then some other posts too…once in a while…)
Cheesy Story Time!!!
When you have known someone for a long time, you can make out in painful detail when they are trying too hard, when they are falling in love, and most importantly when they are falling out of love. With you.
I knew there was someone even before he said it. I didn’t go through his email even though he left his phone and laptop carelessly about. I didn’t check for bills or tickets in the trash bin like the wives in the movies did. We went on as normal for a while. We ate out on Fridays and slept in on Saturdays. We complained about Mondays.
They came home (together) on a Wednesday. Thank God for small graces. I washed my hair on Wednesdays. He had the decency to call up an hour earlier and let me know that we had to talk and he would be bringing someone.
I had a packet of Betty Crockers muffin mix lurking in a top cupboard of the kitchen. The batter was hurriedly prepared and popped into the oven. While the muffins baked, I hunted around for the hair-dryer which was rarely used and gave my hair a courtesy blow.
God knows why I bothered; she would be prettier than me for sure. With hair that shampoo companies advertised.
He rang the doorbell like some stranger salesman. In the 7 years we had lived here, he had never rung the damned doorbell even once. Every day he opened the door with his own set of keys. Until today. A stranger in his own home.
The conversation was one-sided. He explained. I listened. She nodded. Why did he sit so upright? Why did he seem so familiar, but act so very different? We exchanged looks as I offered her the muffins on a platter. I knew that he knew. That they were the Betty Crocker ones.
Everyone took a muffin each and ate. Silence. Only the sound of munching. I sneaked a glance at them and heard another sound now. The Sound of a Gap widening.
I excused myself to the kitchen and stood there trying to analyse what I felt. There were no tears. Not yet. That would come later. For now, I felt a deep sorrow inside my chest.
For now you be strong, I told myself. Even though he knows all your weaknesses.
For now you go back in there and act every bit the gracious hostess. Even though he knows the muffins aren’t yours and they might laugh about it later.
For now you don’t show him any emotion. Even though you shared every thought and feeling with him for seven long years.
I walked back into the living room and realised I shouldn’t have. They were having a private moment, and I felt like a spinster aunt spying in on them. He was asking her something and she looked down shaking her head sadly and a strand of her hair fell forward. His hand gently tucked the wayward strand behind her ear. For a moment everything stood still.
It was a simple gesture. But it signalled the end of my marriage. I couldn’t remember the last time he did that for me.
The next few weeks I spent in a flurry of apologetic phone calls from friends and relatives. I cried until I got headaches, and then cried because I had a headache.
And I found myself twirling my hair, fingering it and wondering if I had ever known the man who had been my husband…..
This gripping story is to be continued, as soon as Microsoft Word does a thorough spell-check on Part II.
Update: So that’s part I. Now everyone go get yourselves a coffee. Stretch those overworked/underworked muscles. Come back, sit down and read Part II here.