The International Writers Magazine: New Dreamscapes Fiction
not exactly what Id call an ideal situation. My soon to
be ex-wife is popping over this afternoon to collect the rest
of her belongings. So far Ive managed to successfully bypass
any attempt she has made to contact me. Ive evaded all her
calls and even, and Im proud of this one, used my initiative
and changed the locks. I never knew that I could be so resourceful.
is however a rather unfortunate downside to this. I have bizarrely taken
to turning off all the lights and hiding under the sofa whenever I hear
a knock at the door. You know, just in case.
However, despite my efforts, her ladyship has informed me, by way of
Royal Mail, that she will be gracing me with her presence this very
afternoon, and that she would appreciate it if I let her in instead
of, and I quote, engaging in a pathetic attempt to avoid her because
if I think that by turning off the lights and ducking behind the sofa
she will assume that Im out, then I am clearly more of an idiot
than she originally supposed. And furthermore, this is the bit
that really hurt, if this in fact the case then she wished shed
brought up the topic of divorce somewhat earlier in our wretched excuse
for a happy marriage.
Ouch. Im not even going to get into what she went on to spout
about next but lets just say I dont think shes amused.
Actually, now I think about it I cant recall the last time when
she was amused. I obviously just suck the amusement right out of her.
Which is probably why Im so intent on getting out of the house
as soon as humanly possible. If shes intent on expelling herself
from my life forever then Im certainly not going to be here to
Its strange to think that less then a month ago we were still
living here, together. I couldnt have guessed what was going to
happen. If someone had told me a few weeks ago that in a matter of days
the whole world, as I know it, would cease to exist I wouldnt
have believed them for a second. Its bizarre, it all happened
so quickly. I wonder what my horoscope said for that day.
Anyway, I should really get on and stop faffing around. Its nearly
midday and she said shed be here at one oclock. But thats
fine, Ive got plenty time. I can squeeze in a quick bath before
I get changed and then vamoose. And excellent, Ive just remembered,
Ill actually be bestowed with the pleasure of taking a piping
hot bath as well. I managed to get the boiler fixed yesterday, the old
one had been on the blink for about ten years and I finally got round
to getting a new one put in. Its jolly nice knowing that if you
turn on the hot tap, hot water will actually come out instead of having
to play Russian Roulette with the faucets.
Thats a funny thing though, when you suddenly find yourself single
and alone you start getting an awful lot of stuff done. Christ, I havent
done that for a long while, referred to myself as single that is. How
promptly that all came about, my initiation into singledom, the beginning
of the end.
It happened a few weeks back with the little chat she instigated after
dinner. Trust her to bother making an exquisite meal and then follow
it up with divorce for dessert. I can remember exactly what we ate,
mashed potatoes with peas and onions, fillet steak and a creamy peppercorn
sauce. Its my favourite; I should have guessed something was up.
I cant really recollect the particulars of what she said now exactly
but it was something about me not being the man she married, and her
not being the woman I married. Nothing wildly original, as I recall,
just the usual old clichéd excuses that get bandied about whenever
couples split up. I couldnt believe what I was hearing but Its
all true though, what she said. It wasnt a happy marriage, we
werent having a good time per se, not like we used to anyway.
We were comfortable I suppose, but I guess thats really more of
a euphemism, for bored.
I can remember a time when I thought she was the picture of perfection,
and the thought of us ever not being together would make me want to
tear out my own eyes. We used to have so much passion, so much love.
Wed sometimes shut ourselves away from the world for days just
talking and laughing. And when we used to go out wed do exciting
things. Wed go to art galleries, photography exhibitions, quaint
little restaurants and cafes. We both fancied ourselves as being a bit
jazzy and creative, we were just, well alive I guess. I dont really
know how we became so sedate, so joyless. Its quite sad really.
Anyway, I cant dwell on it Ive been doing that for the past
three weeks. I should get on really. I better go and start running the
bath, Im intrigued to find out how this new boilers working
Oh Lord what was that? I thought I just heard a noise, I think
the door just went.
Hello. Anyone in?
Oh Christ! Its her, shes here. Shes bloody early.
I cant believe it. Im not prepared for this. What shall
I do, I cant see her. Thats it Ill stay in here, Im
locking myself in the bathroom.
Bernard, are you here?
Maybe shell leave if she thinks Im not here. Oh this is
ridiculous, Im being ridiculous. I cant believe shes
early though. Oh stop being a child just answer her.
Hi June. Yes, Im here.
Where? Where are you?
Im ah, Im in a bath, the bath. Im having a bath.
I know, sorry, Ive got lots on today. You know me, its
all go, go, go.
Yes, I cant say I hadnt noticed. Shes so go, go, go
that shes bloody gone, gone, gone.
Nice of you to leave the door open for me!
Oh great here we go now with the poor attempts at sarcasm and banal
attempts to put me down.
Anyway Bernard, How have you been? Im going to put the kettle
on. Fancy a cup of tea?
Thats it just waltz in and start using things like you still live
here. How rude, cant she just get her stuff and go? I need to
Take a deep breath, in and out, in and out.
Bernard? Did you hear me, do you want tea?
No, Im in the bath.
I knew it, this place is an absolute tip, Ive been gone for all
of five minutes and he cant bother to clean up after himself.
Everything is all over the place. Its like a rampant teenagers
been living here. He knew I was coming Id have thought hed
have the foresight to tidy up a bit.
Oh, and I see thats not the only redecorating hes done,
where are the pictures of our trip to Peru? They used to be by the bookshelf.
Poor Bernard, perhaps its too difficult for him to see them hanging
up there all the time. Well at least the kitchen didnt look too
bad. Ill bet he hasnt been eating properly since hes
been left to his own devices. Wait there. Hang on a minute, what on
earth is this doing here?
Bernard? Why is there a foul smelling, overflowing ashtray in
the sitting room?
Silence. No reply at all. Typical, hes acting like such a child,
I bet he just put it there to annoy me. Then again maybe hes started
seeing a smoker. Ha, thats a laugh.
Bernard, have you started smoking?
Shit! She found the bloody ashtray. Not that its any of her business.
And no, I havent started smoking. Ive been smoking for nearly
twenty years, shes just never bothered to notice. I always smell
faintly of cigarettes and the yellow tinted fingertips are a sure give
away. Its probably the only thing Ive ever managed to successfully
keep a secret. Well, until now. Part of me wants to keep up the pretence,
my dirty little secret. She hates smoking. She thinks its vile,
well I dont have to care anymore and neither does she so I might
as well confess.
No, I havent started smoking. Ive smoked since I was
fifteen. So I guess technically Im just still smoking.
Uh Oh. Silence. Cold, menacing silence. All I can hear is her seething.
Ha Ha round one to me.
Here it comes. Here comes the wrath.
Nothing, it doesnt matter.
I dont believe that hes smoking. What a load of codswhallop,
smoking for twenty years indeed. Thats just preposterous Id
have noticed within seconds. He never seemed to smell of cigarette smoke.
But, then again come to think of it, he did chew an awful lot of gum,
and he would sometimes slip of inexplicably for a few minutes at a time,
usually after dinner. Well its really no bother to me, not anymore.
Its of no consequence whatsoever if he wants to destroy his health,
or at least whatevers left of it. Its entirely his business
now; hes only going to be lying to himself.
Right, lets get this over with as quickly as possible. If hes
going to be acting like this then I dont really want to stick
around. I should just do what I came here to do Im not here to
check up on him. I still have to do one more trip to collect the bureau
I suppose Ill have to let him keep the sofa and the telly, although
they are rightfully mine. No, if hes going to be childish then
its easier to just let him keep anything that I think by my taking
will just cause a further disagreement. Im really not in the mood
for quibbling over the furniture and who has rightful ownership to the
Eric Clapton collection.
There cant be too many of my things left Ive got most of
the important stuff already so its really just the little things
I need to sort out. I mustnt forget my quaint little crystal duck
ornaments though. I know that Bernards quite fond of them but
they are mine and Ive had some of them for years. He always thought
they were cute but Im sure he wont mind. But actually, looking
at them now it looks like one of the pieces is missing, I wonder where
it could be, thats my favourite piece as well. Oh it must be around
Wheres the centrepiece from my crystal duck collection?
Oh Bugger! She noticed. Those bloody crystal ducks. Honestly, what sort
of person collects crystal ducks? As far as I can see their only remotely
conceivable purpose is that they make the perfect fail-safe gift for
any occasion. I can remember when I was a teen thinking only weird old
people collected crystal things. Ive always hated them at least
now I can say it. But, Im certainly not going to tell her that
I smashed her beloved centrepiece duck. Ill simply feign ignorance
about the whole matter.
I dont know. Maybe you already took it.
Hes lying, I can tell. Hes always been a bad liar, well
I suppose apart from the smoking. I remember when he tried to organise
a surprise party for me on my 40th birthday. It was disaster, well disastrous
in that it wasnt exactly a surprise. He was acting shifty for
about three weeks, and hed be making all these sly little phone
calls. I probably would have put his behaviour down to some sort of
mid-life crisis or thought he was having an affair if he hadnt
been ridiculous enough as to send out the invitations with an R.S.V.P
to our address. We ended up receiving about fifty letters from various
people saying theyd love to attend the party, and since all the
mail was addressed to me because Bernard had neglected to specify that
the party was supposed to be a surprise, I got the pleasure of opening
them all. Still, I suppose its the thought that counts.
I just never imagined that I could end up with such a buffoon, it only
really dawned on me lately just how wildly incompatible we actually
are. He must have felt like that too, some part of him must have known
it was coming. But then maybe he didnt. He looked like a bomb
had hit him when I said I was leaving him. But I know that its
good for him, its the best thing for both of us. At least now
I dont have to wake up every morning and hope that maybe just
for that day I can find it my heart to find him attractive. It feels
cruel to think that way but I believe that in his heart of hearts he
feels exactly the same way. I think hes just angry now because
he feels betrayed not because he still loves me. I think loves
been off the table for a long while.
Well, I think Ive got what I came for so I suppose I should get
off, theres not really as much left here as I thought. Perhaps
Ill leave the bureau here actually, I dont really want to
have to come back again. Besides, it looks good in this room, the wood
matches the beams. It might look a little out of place in my new flat.
Goodbye house, look after Bernard for me.
Bernard Im off now. I would say it was good to see you but
Ive not so much seen you as just heard you. You take care now.
Goodbye. See you.
Well there goes the door. I guess thats it then, shes officially
gone. I probably should have walked her out and said goodbye properly,
maybe carried her back over the threshold the other way or something.
I dont know, theres no correct protocol for these sorts
of occasions is there.
I dont think Ill be seeing her again for a long time somehow.
Its just easier that way. But, you know what? I actually think
that Ill be okay. I have a funny feeling that from now on everythings
going to be fine. And, its certainly going to be a lot nicer round
here without those bloody crystal ducks.
© Xara Higgs Feb 2006
xarahiggs at hotmail.com
Xara is a writer on the MA in Creative Writing at Portsmouth University
Dreaded Christmas Office Party
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