Seconds later, the door had slammed behind Helen as she took Paul to the car. No kiss. No words of, ‘Goodbye love,’ or, ‘See you later,’ today. I returned to the kitchen and made myself a drink. It looked as if I’d have a busy day ahead of me.
I was up and about early to get ready for my new job. On Saturday, I’d had appointments with a solicitor and the bank. In both cases I’d had to take all sorts of identification proofs and other documents. I couldn’t close the joint account because it needed both mine and Helen’s signatures. On the other hand, I was able to open an account in my sole name and to transfer all the direct debits that related to myself or to the house and home. ‘Home,’ that was a strange word now. The house felt nothing like a home. For any direct debits that Helen had taken out on her own account – her phone, her credit card account, regular transfers from it to her personal savings account – I instructed the bank to leave those where they were. Those would be up to Helen to finance.
The solicitor hadn’t thought much of my thoughts regarding deliberately staying unemployed. He said that the Court would take a dim view of it. Similarly, he advised that my chances of sole custody would be slim to nothing. His main concern was making sure that I knew how much I’d need to pay him for his efforts. What was it people said? “At least Dick Turpin wore a mask!” He promised to email me with any news.
Sunday had been unsettling. Helen had agreed that Paul should spend time with me. She brought him mid-morning but would be collecting him at six that night. She still hadn’t told me her new address, though it seemed that she hadn’t blocked me on her smartphone number. When she’d dropped him off she’d simply rung the doorbell and, when I opened the door, she’d just told me how long I could have him for. She’d then turned and returned to her car. There had been no smile; no ‘Hi. How are you’; no greeting – just that terse instruction.
I couldn’t understand why she was behaving this way. ‘What was I supposed to have done to deserve to be treated like this?’ I told Paul to wave to his Mum, which he did as she drove away. The poor lad was in tears. ‘Bitch!’ I thought. I smiled to him to reassure him and asked what he’d like to do. He wanted to play on his PlayStation, but she’d taken it to their new home when she left. When I tried to explain this to him he started crying, wanting to know why his mum and I weren’t living together anymore. I asked him what his Mum had told him about the separation. He said that she’d said that we’d fallen out. I didn’t know what to say other than grown-ups sometimes stopped being friends. I suggested to him that the parents of some of his classmates had also separated. This just seemed to make things worse.
It wasn’t raining, so we went on our bikes to the local Science Museum. There were some great interactive exhibits especially aimed at children and soon Paul was engrossed in those. We called in a fast-food place for lunch – another treat that he was unused to – and he liked the toy that came with the kid’s meal. The downside of this ‘treat’ was that he was ‘wired’ – high as a kite afterwards. I took him to the park so that he could burn off some of this energy. All too soon I had to get him back to ‘my’ house. I couldn’t call it ‘our’ house anymore: it was becoming ‘Daddy’s house’ and ‘Mummy’s house’. During the meal, he was becoming sad again, knowing that his Mummy would be taking him away and that we wouldn’t be together. I tried to ensure that he knew that, even apart, we’d both always love him. We’d fallen out with each other – not with him.
Today’s photo is one that I promised a few weeks ago when I chose a photo of the same place but earlier in the day – nearer sunset. So, this is MediaCity UK, Salford Quays, Manchester again, but this time in the Blue Hour.
The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera with a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 24 mm and f/11. The shutter speed was 15 seconds and the ISO 100. The shot was tripod mounted, without filters and post processing in Lightroom Classic.