She finished her breakfast then went to get ready, while he retrieved whatever clothes and so forth that he felt that he hadn’t moved out the previous evening.
The sun was shining, birds in the garden were singing. What a glorious yet strange and sad day to begin a new life.
Ashes of a marriage – Week One – Charlotte
She sat with him in the lounge, both on the sofa, while he dialled Gloria’s number using the landline. They’d decided to speak to her using speakerphone to explain the situation.
“Hello Peter, it’s Frank. I thought you’d have been in work by now. Is everything all right?”
“Work Frank?” he asked, “It’s Easter Monday – bank holiday. Had you forgotten?”
Frank and Charlotte looked at each other – their dismayed expressions showed that neither had remembered.
“Oh, dear God! So it is,” he said, “have I woken you up?”
“No, no. We were on our way down for breakfast anyway,” he said, “What can I do for you?”
“I need a big favour,” Frank explained, “After yesterday, I think it best that Gloria’s mum and I give each other some space and time to reflect. I’m moving out this morning and I was wondering if you and Gloria could put up with me staying with you for a couple of days until I can find a place to rent?”
“You’d better speak to management,” he said, “Give me a minute while I explain this to Gloria – she’s here with me now. She’ll ring you back. Is that okay?”
Charlotte told him that it would be fine and ended the call.
“Easter Monday!” they both spoke at the same time.
“With Gloria’s birthday and everything else that was going on,” Frank said, “I never gave it a thought.”
Gloria phoned back moments later. She wanted chapter and verse of what was going on but told her dad that he’d be welcome to stay with her for as long as he needed. He could call round as soon as he was ready. He told her that he’d tell her all about it later, but they wanted to phone David next to put him in the picture.
There was no answer from David’s phone. It occurred to them that, with it being a bank holiday he might have gone to the supermarket or taken Jake and Grace off somewhere for the day. Charlotte said that they should phone him again later and Frank agreed to return home that evening to make the call.
She stood in the porch watching his car depart. She waved to him as his old Ford Fiesta slowly edged along the driveway. She saw him wave back to her. Her eyes filled with tears.
Now that he’d gone, she sat in the lounge and looked around. ‘What’s it all been for? What have I gained by my nit-picking house-proud perfectionism?’ She thought about some of her friends from Keep-Fit and the Local History Group. Few of them seemed bothered if their homes were less than spotless. ‘Am I really any happier than they are?’
One of Frank’s phrases kept returning to her.
“These next, final years aren’t a rehearsal, Charlie.”
He was right wasn’t he? When the Grim Reaper called your name, you couldn’t ask for a chance to replay your past few years and get it right next time.
‘Oh, my God! I promise I’ll do my damndest to get it right from now on.’
She didn’t know what she should be doing. She’d better continue with her regular social activities but dreaded the questions and knowing glances she’d notice between the people there. There would be people she’d need to inform – like the Council – but surely it was early days yet. This might all blow over. There would be shopping to do – but shopping for one would feel strange. She could iron the tablecloth and clothes that she’d washed last night, but that wouldn’t fill the day.
She hadn’t slept well that first night without him – well, she rarely got eight hours in anyway. Since they’d stopped having sex, she’d slept every night with her back to him to discourage his advances. To be fair, he’d learned quickly enough, though often she reflected that she was ‘cutting off her nose to spite her face’. Often she’d lain there colder than she’d needed to be and she’d missed the comfort of his warm feet. Last night had been different. She’d missed his quiet snoring. The sounds of the occasional car passing had seemed louder. For the first time she’d heard an owl hooting and a fox barking. It had all seemed eerie.
She needed to talk to someone – almost anyone. Was it to confess, she wondered, was she looking for some form of absolution? Certainly, she wanted to get it off her chest – preferably to someone who didn’t know her. Wasn’t that what vicars and priests were for? But she hadn’t been to a church since the grandchildren were baptised. In any case, she didn’t want some God-botherer trying to convert her to fear of eternal damnation.
I took this photo while walking Ted, my daughter’s Japanese Spitz dog, on an area of reclaimed industrial land near where I live. The log pile has been lying there a while, cut down from diseased or broken trees perhaps.
I used my Pentax KP cropped sensor camera to take the photo using a 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/30 secs @ f/8 and focal length 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic with additional editing in Topaz Denoise AI.