His fingers paused over the keyboard. The mindless cursor taunted him with its pulsating blankness that consumed the screen in that endless throbbing heartache of nothingness. How did it come to this? 20 years of marriage, no physical contact in the past year, a lack of communication in the last ten and a home environment that can only be described as a void.
Where did all the love go, the gentle touch of her hand, the tender kisses, the laughter? Things changed when the kids arrived. One by one they came into the world and enriched his life, their lives. It became hectic after that, demanding. He slammed his fist on the desk and abruptly pushed himself away from the computer. I gave my all to support her and the kids! I gave up my passion, my love of racing and for what – a cold shoulder of indifference?
He stormed out of his office and into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee. The aroma of the freshly ground beans permeated his senses sending him back to the time to when he first met his wife.
She was sitting alone in a coffee shop, reading a romance novel. There was nothing special about the place. It was the same as any other except for one important thing, she was there. Grace Sinclair, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She wore a black and white polka dot dress that showed a little too much of her legs, her hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she wore a black choker necklace. The perfect image of elegance.
It was love at first sight. He walked straight up to her table and sat opposite her. “You don’t mind, do you? There’s no other seats available.”
She looked around the empty tables, and then glared at him. “I see,” she said almost disinterestedly. “You can stay here for a little while, but I’m expecting company.”
Smirking, she averted her eyes back to her book. “Does it matter?”
“Well, a beautiful young lady such as yourself, sitting here all alone. It’s quite dangerous you know. I fear for your safety. If you’re meeting a girlfriend I will insist on keeping you both company.” He leaned over the table to whisper in her ear, “There’s some shady looking characters lurking around. You ought to be careful.”
What followed was two hours of laughter and interesting conversation. Before they knew it they were living together, married, kids and now this. How am I going to get back into the dating scene at my age?
He sipped his coffee and allowed his shoulders to relax. Leaning back on the kitchen bench he wondered for the umpteenth time, Where did it go wrong? Originally she blamed it on finance. The single most common reason for divorce they say.
As if it was my fault. I had no control over what happened. Can I control the economic environment? No. Could I help it when the company I was contracted to folded and caused a chain reaction throughout the business? No.
He could feel the tension rising again and decided to think about something else. No point in dwelling on these matters his farther would always say.
It’s the kids I feel sorry for. Well at least we’re doing the right thing by them. One more try before we call it quits. He quietly shuffled down the hallway to check up on them before going back to his adieus task he’d been contemplating over the past weeks.
Michael the oldest lay silently. A little too quietly he thought. Holding his breath, he placed his hand on his chest and waited patiently for the rise and fall to reassure him he was still breathing. Satisfied, he exhaled.
Even after all these years, he still panics. As a toddler, Michael used to go blue while sitting on their laps. He’d just forget to breath and they would have to shake him to get him breathing again. Not hard mind you. A rough horse ride on the knee did the trick. One night David couldn’t sleep and did the rounds like he was doing now. That night however, Michael wasn’t breathing. A gentle nudge, became a shake which turned into a horrifying dread and frantic hugs with hard pats on the back. Tears welted as he remembered the long night in his wife’s rocking chair nursing his son back to sleep, too terrified to let him go, too fearful to sleep.
I guess that’s what it means to be a parent. You never stop loving them, protecting them, fearing for their safety. Who will watch over them if I leave? Certainly not Grace. The house could be on fire and she wouldn’t wake to save them.
He suddenly needed something stronger than coffee. Going back to his office, he withdrew a half empty bottle of rum from the filing cabinet. Turning the bottle in his hand he couldn’t help but wonder if Grace’s concerns about his drinking had anything to do with their marital difficulties. A man has a right to have a drink or two after work. I don’t see what the problem is.
It wasn’t the drink so much that troubled Grace, but how it affected him. He’d get melancholy and sulk around the place getting in the road and she felt obligated to keep him company. She did a lot of that over the last five years. If only he’d stop the drinking and feeling sorry for himself, maybe she’d see the man she fell in love with all those years ago.
It was around that time she had had enough of being someone’s wife or mother so she decided to go and do a photography course, more of an excuse to get away and start doing something for herself than anything else. No need for him to get all huffy and drink more. It was then their relationship took a nose dive. The business went to the wall, he was stressed and drank more, she was stressed and went out with her photography group and spent big on new cameras and equipment.
David didn’t see it that way. He saw himself losing control over his life, her slipping away from him and he was powerless to do anything about any of it. If only I knew what was wrong so I could fix it. She blamed the finances. I got three jobs. She blamed my drinking. I stopped. She went to the doctors. Has depression and fatigue. So I started helping out more. I bought the children extra uniforms so she only had to do the washing once a week. I started cooking the meals once and then twice a week. I bought her a self cleaning oven so she didn’t have to deal with all those toxic fumes. I even organised a cleaner to come in twice fortnightly to take the pressure off her. I took her and the kids out on a holiday. She never smiled. Not once. I organised Mum to look after the kids so we could go away together – alone. She got a job and I had to cancel. Then she complained about the sex. We hadn’t had any in a while so I tried to do the right thing by her and got rejected. Now it’s my sexual appetite she finds offensive. So if that’s what she wants. I’ll do it. Whatever it takes, I’ll do it just so we can get back to the way it was.
He viewed the computer screen with cold uncertainty. If that’s what she wants…