More Sunday Terror
It was a normal enough Sunday. I bustled around making tea and toast and getting myself ready for church, while Patrick lounged in the conservatory reading the Sunday papers. He pops along to the local shop at nine o'clock every Sunday morning, returning with an armful of Sunday papers, all complete with their magazine sections. Don't know what he sees in them, myself. To me, all Sunday papers are alike. When you've skimmed through one, you've skimmed the lot. Still, it keeps Patrick happy for the whole of Sunday, so I shouldn't grumble.
We've been married for twenty-four years, ten months and two weeks, Patrick and I. I'm Sarah, by the way. Was Sarah Coppice until Patrick Nicholson spotted me across a crowded office party twenty-five and a half years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.
I'm SO looking forward to our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary—and no, he isn't buying me anything silver. He did offer (with the requisite quantity of arm-twisting,) but what I've always wanted is to travel to New Zealand to visit my brother and his family. I've never seen his wife or his grown-up children, only in photos. He went there twenty years ago, married a New Zealand girl, and has never been back since, so you can see how important it is to me to get in one visit. Patrick agreed. He's never been much for travelling (can barely get him to shift from the conservatory and certainly not out of Norfolk) but he promised to buy tickets for our silver anniversary.
I've spent the last few months getting ready for the trip, even though it's still six weeks away. Well, you have to have a new wardrobe, don't you? Can't travel all that way without the latest fashions. I've bought new stuff for Patrick too, but he doesn't seem to take much notice. The shirts are still in their cellophane wrappings, and he didn't even bother to try on the new trousers.
I hummed happily as I strolled back from church. It had been a good service and I felt uplifted. God was in his heaven and all was right with the world.
I called out to Patrick as I came through the door, but he didn't answer. No surprises there, then. Once he was engrossed in his newspapers, nothing penetrated his consciousness. I wandered through to the conservatory—but he wasn’t there. Now that was a surprise. He's usually glued to his seat (apart from the obvious necessary excursions from time to time) for the whole day.
He wasn't in the lounge either, nor the kitchen, the bedrooms, the bathroom, or the garage. Neither was he in the garden. Patrick had vanished.
I didn't worry for the first hour. After all, he was a grown man, he could do as he pleased. So what if he'd taken it into his head to go out for a stroll?
By the second hour I was growing rather more nervous, and by the third, I was distinctly tetchy. What on earth was he playing at? And what should I do about supper?
To distract myself from anxious thoughts, I got out my knitting and sat down in front of the television. I was knitting a nice sweater in rainbow colours for Patrick. Those New Zealand nights might be cold.
It was when I glanced at the clock that I became aware of a sheet of paper thrust behind it. Throwing down my knitting, I fished out the paper and straightened it. Torn from a notebook, it said in Patrick's poor excuse for handwriting, 'Gone to—something I couldn't read—Aimee. Sorry it's so near the NZ trip, but hope you understand. P.'
What on earth? Oh my God! Did this mean what I thought it meant? Surely not! I mean, I know he's been a bit distant lately, but another woman! And just before our trip, too.
For a moment I stood there like a goldfish, with my mouth open and about the same ability to concentrate. Then I sat down heavily. Who was Aimee, and more to the point, what was I going to do?
How could he do this to me? How could he leave me like this after twenty-five years of marriage, and with just a scribbled note? I know we have no family, but that was hardly my fault. He was the one with the low sperm count, although I've tried hard not to blame him. He was the one who refused to adopt, too. Said he wasn't taking on other people's genetic problems. What rubbish! This wouldn't have happened if we'd had a family.
Of course, we had the two dogs, and they were good company. Dear little things, fluffy, gorgeous lapdogs—Poms from the same litter, Jo and Beth—but sad to say, our Poms didn't live very long. They should have lived for fifteen years, but only made ten. Patrick blamed me—me! who loved them like my children—saying I should have fed them dry dog food, not rich scraps from my plate. But who took them out for walks everyday, I'd like to know?
But now—now it seemed I was on my own. No dogs, and no Patrick. He'd left me for this trollop from work. She must have been from work, otherwise I'd have known her. Darned if I was going to take it lying down though. I could feel rage building inside me. He'd taken the best years of my life and for what? To leave me utterly alone in my twilight years? We'd soon see about that.
First thing tomorrow I'd take myself off to my solicitor, change the locks—Patrick needn't think he was coming back, ever—and storm into his office where I'd—
I heard the front door open. He sauntered into the lounge grinning, can you believe it? I flew at him, beating on his chest and clawing a long scratch down the side of his face. I was pleased to see I drew blood.
For a moment he was too surprised to react, then he held my arms. “Whoa! Steady on, old girl. Don't you want to meet Aimee?”
“Meet her? Meet your fancy piece? How dare you! How long has this been going on behind my back? If you're thinking of a threesome, you've another think coming! You—you—”
I could feel myself spluttering in my fury, but Patrick just looked at me in that annoyingly calm way he has, and began to laugh. Before I had a chance to spit even more venom, he pulled me to the door and out to the car. There in the boot was the daintiest, cutest, fluffiest, most delightful little Pom puppy you ever could see.
Patrick said, “Meet Aimee. I'm sorry she's come so close to our trip, but I've made sure she's had all her injections so she'll be ready to go back to the same kennels, where they know and love her. That's why I've been so long. The veterinary side took longer than I expected. What do you think?”
What did I think? I thought I had the most wonderful, beautiful, perfect husband who ever walked God's earth. But how I wish I could read his writing properly.