Too Shiny For a Ladybird
Going to work on this and repost it.
It’s a bit clumsy and unpolished for my liking. But feel free to read it and come back and see what I do with it
‘Can you come?’ he said, ‘to the clinic?’ he said.
‘I’m not your wife anymore, Dougie,’ I said.
‘I know but it’s you I want. You were always so good at, you know, the hand-holding. So reassuring and …well… you know… maternal. Please, love. I don’t want her.’
You don’t just stop loving someone – not just like that. It carries on burning while you process what’s happened. Even if the other person doesn’t deserve you.
They had said it wouldn’t last.
They were right.
They had said I was too young and I would leave him.
They were wrong.
Dougie was forty and I was twenty-three when we got married. Age didn’t matter to us.
Or so I thought.
But seven years later he was still acting like a teenager and accusing me of being ‘past it’ at thirty.
Sheena was twenty-two and acted like a teenager. Dougie liked that. She giggled a lot. Dougie liked that too. He said she was a ‘little princess’.
‘…it’s you I want… I don’t want her…’
Okay, so three years after the divorce I was still misreading the signs. Some of us see our future all mapped out and find it difficult to take another path. What can I say?
Sheena was furious when she found out I’d gone with him to the appointment. Accused him of being unfaithful and moved out. Just like that.
I think I did her a favour, really. Dougie said Sheena was too ‘feminine’ and ‘fragile’ to cope with all the stress. Not like me, I was ‘sturdy’ and ‘capable,’ apparently.
When the pain got too much he called for her. And he called me… Well you don’t need to know what he called me.
A fool, they said I was. They said some people just see what they want to see.
I saw a sick man and a commitment. It wasn’t what I wanted to see.
And I did stop loving him.
When I saw what he and his ‘little princess’ had done to my rose garden, to make way for gravel and decking, it was like a stab to the heart. The pink emulsion over my William Morris wallpaper: an insult. The signs of a decadent, wasteful, neglect for other people’s feelings became apparent as I found more and more evidence of excessive materialism, parties, drugs and careless housekeeping around my former home.
Sheena didn’t divorce Dougie. She kept spending his money and Dougie was happy to stay married to her although she never visited him, not even on his fiftieth birthday. I began to pity him – the man who had played but never lived.
I’ll give Sheena credit – she bought Dougie a very flash headstone. Gleaming black marble. You’ve never seen anything so shiny. Apart from Sheena’s cheeks, that is. She has this polishing thing done and then puts this sparkly iridescent pink stuff on her face to make her look smoother or more feminine …or something… apparently.
I take flowers for Sheena twice a year. She can’t get there. Or it’s too painful …or something… They’re not from me, you understand. Sheena is the beloved wife etched in the marble for all eternity and spending his last few pounds on shiny stuff, after all, not me.
Today I watched a ladybird land on the shiny memorial. It slipped and fell off as the marble representation of memory, or love… or something… shone erect, alone and unapologetically in the summer sun.
My corn-coloured maternity dress, with poppies scattered around the edges, was more welcoming and the ladybird crawled up safely, until it reached the blossoming representation of my new life.
The ladybird and I walked away to my young husband, waiting in the carpark.
Sheena says she’ll never have children. Motherhood will ruin her femininity, or something…