She wasn’t sure how she’d feel in the morning about the prospect of him leaving. She’d do him a cooked breakfast to put him in a better mood. If he did leave, well, like he said, he wouldn’t always be in her way and that would be a plus, but it wasn’t something she’d be happy about. She’d have to make sure that he continued to pay her an adequate allowance. But divorce? Dear God! She remembered how David’s divorce had left both of them struggling because of the legal costs. What if they had to sell the house? She’d never be able to afford a mortgage on State Pension.
On top of all that, she remembered how the family had looked at her. They couldn’t wait to get away. She knew that by creating such a scene they’d side with Frank.
She wept silently for a while, cursing her impatient nature. She wasn’t a religious woman but she prayed now for forgiveness and guidance.
Ashes of a marriage – Frank
Frank also lay awake in the dark, nestled under the duvet on the guest double-bed, until turned one a.m. Moonlight, through a gap in the curtains, made an abstract pattern on the ceiling. From here, he could hear the slow ticking of the grandfather clock in the dining room. At one point in the night, he heard the floorboards on the landing creaking and Charlotte’s footsteps padding on the carpet towards the bathroom and back. He was tempted to shout to her but couldn’t think what he would say in the circumstances. Perhaps she was lying sleepless too and thinking. He knew that his thoughts, however, would be of a different kind.
Firstly, there were practical matters to plan. He used a Note app on his phone to make some lists. He did an internet search to look at properties currently available for rent. He listed a couple of possibilities. Then he noted the phone number for their bank to arrange an appointment. Both of them would probably need to be present. Next he started to list the items he would certainly wish to pack in the car in the morning.
On one matter alone he agreed with his wife. He didn’t want the problems regarding either the nature of the joint title nor the proceeds of any sale of the house to be threatened by legal costs. Additionally, he felt that it was only right that he should provide a continuing monthly allowance to supplement her state pension. She hadn’t had the opportunity of accruing a company pension because she’d accepted her role as housewife, and this had been a major help to him. There was no need to be vindictive or bitter.
On the main issue, he remained resolute: he would be leaving her. He’d almost reached the three score years and ten milestone. He couldn’t know how many years of life he had available, but it would in all probability be fewer than ten to fifteen. He had no intention of spoiling his enjoyment of those dwindling years by remaining in a poisoned atmosphere such as his marriage had become lately. Charlotte was not the kind of person to find fault in herself.
She was almost certain to continue to resent his interference in the routines she’d carefully nurtured over forty years. He understood that and sincerely believed that she’d quickly adapt to his absence.
Turning onto his side, facing away from the window, his thoughts changed direction also.
He had no dread of being alone and his pension would allow him to afford modest rented premises and a reasonable standard of living even after providing for Charlotte. She’d be entitled to additional state and council benefits and discounts to recognise her new status.
It had never been at the forefront of his mind, but as he lay there, it occurred to him that he’d now be free to roam as he chose to in pursuit of photography locations. The downside was that he’d have no one with whom to share his photos. It was also true that, with that freedom, there was a risk of boredom. He couldn’t know if the excitement from his hobby was in part due to it being difficult to find opportunities to practice.
Just before he slept, he wondered whether his sister Betty might have contacts who could help him find a suitable rented home. She was still working as an architect.
I took this photo at Sutton Mill Dam, a 26 acre wildlife nature park with its own lake in Sutton, St Helens, Merseyside last week. I was standing on a path across an overflow from the dam.
I used my Pentax KP cropped sensor camera to take the photo using a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/4.5 and focal length 35 mm. The ISO was 1600. I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic with additional editing in Topaz Denoise AI.