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Behind Her Eyes: Part 1: Chapter 18

Adele

I bought it on the credit card mixed in among the supermarket shopping. I normally keep all my shopping receipts just in case he asks for them, but he hasn’t done that in a couple of years, and even if he starts again now, I’ll pretend I lost that one. I won’t be able to buy everything I’m going to need that way, but for now, the credit card has its uses. I can’t cut back on any more housekeeping petty cash money because I’ve used enough of that to buy Louise a month pass at the gym and will have to adjust my spending accordingly – to use David’s favourite phrase.

Still, all it means is I have to make a few sacrifices on my food tastes. A supermarket corn-fed chicken for Sunday instead of one from the organic butcher. David wouldn’t notice the difference anyway, even though he’s still a farm boy at heart, under all the layers he hides behind. He can tell a fresh farm egg from a free-range supermarket one, but that’s about it. I’m the one who enjoys decadence in food, and he allows me that.

I look at the e-cigarette, and the spare battery and extra cartridges. She’s probably in no emotional state to try going cold turkey right now, but she’ll try this. I know she will. She’s a people pleaser. I feel another surge of bitterness. A fat little people pleaser. I fight the urge to throw the expensive device against the wall.

Thinking of her makes me cry once more as I sit in the kitchen, sunlight streaming through the back door and snot streaming from my nose. I haven’t even looked in a mirror today. I don’t want to see the beautiful face that’s failed me. My coffee sits on the table, cold and untouched, and I stare down through blurred vision at the mobile phone clutched in my hands. I take a deep breath and contain myself before quickly typing out the text prepared in my head.

I hope you’re okay and coping without Adam :-(. I’ve got a present for you to cheer you up! Shall we do the gym on Monday? And then lunch? Let’s get bikini body ready even if we’re not having holidays! A x

I don’t mention the fight I had with David last night, or how he stormed out, or how I’d pretended to be asleep when he finally crept in and went to the spare room. I don’t tell her how in the middle of the night he came into my room and stood over me, silently staring at me, and as I lay there with my eyes squeezed shut I could feel all his hate and anger radiating from his tense, clenched body, and I could barely breathe until he left. I don’t tell her that I didn’t even get up to see him off to work, but instead lay crying into my pillow and trying not to throw up, and that I’m still trying not to throw up.

I don’t tell her any of these things because, angry as I am, I don’t want her to feel any worse than she does already. I don’t want to lose my new friend even if she’s betrayed me and I’m filled with rage and envy of her. I need to crush that. It won’t do me any good and it won’t make David love me.

It’s just come as a surprise. I hadn’t expected their relationship to escalate quite so quickly. I’d forced the argument last night, but it hadn’t been difficult. We have too much simmering under the surface; the forest green bedroom walls, the cat, the thing that happened before we moved, and always, always, the secret in our past that binds us too tightly. I thought he would go out and get drunk somewhere, but I hadn’t expected him to go from a bar to Louise’s door. Not yet. Not last night.

Tears spill fresh. A bottomless well of them inside me, and I try deep breathing to get them under control. I knew this would be hard. I need to squash it. At least Louise tried to say no. She has a good heart. She’s a good person. She mentioned me and she tried to send him home. And she was drunk herself. It’s easy to lose control when you’re drunk; we’re all guilty of that. I hate that she slept with him, and I hate how it hurts me, but I can’t even blame her for that. She met him before she met me, and her lust had already been ignited. At least she hadn’t tried to take it further at work even though that first night in the bar must have made her feel special in her sad little life. I like her for that. Of course she’s smitten with him. How can I be angry with her for finding him fascinating, when I love him so much?

It’s been quicker than I expected. He likes her more than I thought, and it’s knocked the wind out of me.

I need to be strong. I’ve got soft over the years. Louise makes David happy and that’s all that matters even though I want to go to the clinic and drag her into the street by her hair and scream at her for being so weak – for spreading her legs so easily for my faithless husband. I remind myself that I need her to make him happy and I need to pull myself together and make a plan.

I sip my cold coffee and force myself out into the sunshine. The fresh air feels good on my burning face. It’s still early and the dawn chill is lingering in the sunshine. I hope I haven’t got it all wrong. I hope my faith in Louise isn’t misplaced. I hope she is everything I think she is. If not, this could all get very complicated. I don’t let myself linger on that. I have to be positive.

First of all I need to sleep. Properly sleep. I’m tired, emotionally and physically, but every time I close my eyes, they’re all I can see. His pathetic sadness sitting on her tatty couch. Their drunken fuck. The tears of self-pity in the shower after he flushed away the condom. The way he scrubbed at his skin with the travel-sized shower gel he’d had in his jacket pocket, one that matches his brand at home in case I smelt some lingering scent of her from across the hallway. Her guilt and longing. I feel sick all over again.


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