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Behind Her Eyes: Part 2: Chapter 22


Even though we spent the evening at home like any other couple – dinner, TV, minimal conversation – David still slept in the spare room last night. He blamed it on the warm weather, but this is a big old house and the thick walls keep the airy rooms relatively cool. He didn’t look at me as he went up to bed. It wasn’t entirely unexpected but I still felt stabbed in the guts with a shard of my own broken heart.

When I heard him moving around this morning, I got up and went to the gym to avoid facing him across the invisible bitter split in our marriage. I had to let out some of my pent-up emotions and I ran hard on the treadmill and then did heavier reps on the machines than I’ve done before, but I didn’t take any pleasure in it. It all feels like a waste of time. What does it matter? What do I matter any more?

I got home in time to make us both a light lunch, and then he was gone. Off to his outreach work. Some badly-dressed lump of a man picked him up in an old car. They all look the same, do-gooders. That’s a thing that hasn’t changed since Westlands days. As if dressing badly somehow makes them more worthy. At least the outreach work hasn’t been a complete lie, even though I know he’s used it as an excuse to go and see Louise at least once.

After he’d left I thought about texting her myself to see if she fancied a coffee somewhere – I suddenly felt lonely in the house – but then decided against it. I don’t know where he goes on these days, and even though it’s a busy area we live in, coincidences do happen. I can’t risk everything on him spotting us from a car just because I’m feeling down.

Instead, I cleaned the house for an hour or two, scrubbing the bathrooms until they sparkled and I was breathless, and then I was interrupted by the Saturday post clattering – late as usual – through the letterbox.

When I saw the envelope, the familiar company stamp in the corner and neatly handwritten address, I was glad I hadn’t started an argument today. It would have been too much and it isn’t needed. This will be enough to unsettle him. In my mind’s eye the past is like quicksand and David’s stuck in it, slowly, slowly sinking. It makes me sad again.

I open the envelope and stare at the columns of description and expenditure and glance over the cover letter. Nothing unusual or surprising there, but then there never is. We don’t go back to Fairdale House and no one has lived there since the one wing burned. I reread the letter. A few repairs done on the main building. Fences maintained. Security cameras all working. No new damage to the property. Gas and electric still connected and fees paid. Drainage is fine. Rents are being paid on the outlying fields. The summer report is always cheaper than the winter one. No need to run the heating so much against the Scottish cold. To be honest, I think most people have forgotten the estate is even there: Sleeping Beauty’s castle behind the hedgerows.

I put the letter and the bill down on the kitchen side where David will see it. I place it so it looks as if I’ve casually tossed it there. That will annoy him too. I shouldn’t have opened it. I should have put it on his desk when I saw the company stamp. It’s addressed to both of us, but everyone knows he’s in charge of the money. I’m only the pretty puppet: the tragic wife who needs looking after.

The solicitors have stopped asking us if we’re going to sell the estate. We could never sell it. Although, maybe, in the future … my stomach flips with the potential of everything. With the possibility of our secret being out in the open and allowed to crumble to dust and then nothing. To be free of it. The thought is dizzying, but it also strengthens me.

I look at the clock. It’s eight thirty. Outside the summer day is beginning to fade. David will be out until ten. He didn’t want dinner waiting, so I don’t have that to worry about. I do have a place to go, however, and there’s no point in putting it off for longer. I need to be prepared. I need to be ready. In some ways I’m actually looking forward to it.

I just have to be very, very careful.


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