(A flash fiction for Friday Flash and a reworked version of yesterday’s post: ‘Too Shiny for a Ladybird’.)
Well it all started when he phoned me and asked me to go to the clinic with him.
‘But I’m not your wife anymore, Dougie,’ I told him.
‘I know,’ he said, ‘but it’s you I want. You were always so good at, you know, the hand-holding. So reassuring and … well… you know – maternal.’ And then he said, ‘Please, love. I don’t want her.’
Yes, okay. I know. 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?
I hadn’t stopped loving him, you see. I suppose I was still processing what had happened – what he’d done to me.
‘…it’s you I want… I don’t want her…’ That’s what he’d said.
It sounds so stupid, now I’m telling you about it.
Sheena…God… She was furious when she found out I’d gone to the appointment with him. Accused him of being unfaithful and moved out. Just like that. After three years. But, you know, I think I did her a favour really. She was that quick to leave… Makes you wonder… Dougie said she was too “feminine” and fragile” to cope with all the stress. Not like me. He said I was…. What was it he called me? …“Sturdy.” Yes that was it.
Of course, everyone else said what a fool I was and how I was reading too much into it – just seeing what I wanted to see. But I saw a sick man and a commitment. That wasn’t what I wanted to see.
And I did stop loving him… Eventually.
When the pain got too much he would call out for her. And he called me – Well… You don’t need to know what he called me.
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 – well, it was insulting. Just the blatant disregard for anything I had done. It was all such a waste. I imagined Sheena laughing as they ripped out my Victorian oak kitchen and replaced it with soulless modern stuff.
Out with the old, in with the new, huh?
She never came back. Never visited. Not even on his fiftieth birthday. But she didn’t divorce him and he didn’t want her too either. No, she just kept spending his money and then got the rest, you know…
I’ll give Sheena credit, though. It must have been a very expensive headstone. See how it gleams in the sun? I’ve never seen anything so shiny. Apart from Sheena’s cheeks, that is. She has this polishing thing done and then covers her face in some sparkly iridescent pink stuff. She likes giving me make-up tips. I think she feels sorry for me or something.
Of course they’re not from me, these flowers, they’re from her. Sheena is the beloved wife, etched in marble for all eternity, after all – and the one spending Dougie’s last few pounds on shiny stuff, not me.
Do you want a lift somewhere? Mine’s that old 1950’s Aston Martin over there. You like it? Yes I do too. Needs work and a new paint job, but I find the subtler, matte look quite endearing. Sheena never liked the old cars, made Dougie drive her around in a new thing, so when she found that in the garage under a blanket she asked me to take it off her hands.
Really? That much? Gosh – you do surprise me.