Monday, July 22, 2019 10:47

Nuts

My husband never eats nuts, so I thought I’d add some to the sandwich filling of his pack lunch. In order for it to be a surprise I hid the grinder from him when he came in to the kitchen for his coffee and toast. It was so much easier than having to deal with the inevitable protest. A few minutes later I kissed him goodbye and watched him walk away to his car parked in the driveway.

I waited until his car turned the corner then closed the front door and began to busy myself around the house, cleaning and dusting, and then making jobs where none existed. At eleven-fifty I walked the short distance to the main road and took the first bus into town. It was a long and tedious ride but I finally alighted close to the back entrance of the park where I knew my husband would come for his lunch. I made my way across the grass towards a little row of trees and stood only partially hidden beneath a tree already shedding its autumn leaves. The October sun was unusually strong and I felt over dressed in my brown suedette skirt and roll neck jumper.

I didn’t have to wait long before they appeared from behind a copse of trees on the other side of the garden. She was a confident-looking young woman wearing a shift of ivory chiffon. Her brunette hair flowed to one side of her pretty face, the sunshine turning the loose curls into shining droplets that rested on her flawless bosom. A slender earring fell gracefully from a perfect ear, giving her willowy neck an extra dimension. Below the hem of her dress I saw the long elegant legs of a dancer clad in the sheerest of stockings. She wore cream T-bar shoes with heels that lifted her almond eyes almost to those of my husband. I hated her as soon as I saw her.

My husband was on her right, all six feet two inches of him, dressed in grey slacks and black leather Loakes. A maroon lamb’s wool jumper was draped casually across the shoulders of his white piqué polo shirt and tied in a fashionable knot across his forty-four inch chest. His left arm was wrapped around the woman’s tiny waist; fingers playing with her through her dress. The two of them were close enough now for me to hear the click of her heels on the path and I moved back a little in order to remain unseen. He looked down at her and smiled. She returned his smile and said something which caused them both to laugh. She reached across and gave him a kiss, afterwards wiping the salmon-pink lipstick from his lips with her thumb. As they resumed their walk he reached out to take her by the hand and I saw the wedding band on his finger; the ring I had given him ten years before.

I followed them like a private detective, hiding behind trees and bushes, until they reached a cupola beside the lake. My husband sat on the bench and reached out to pull the woman down to him. She made a play of modesty but all too soon fell effortlessly onto his lap, apparently at ease when his hand reached up and cupped her left breast. The kiss this time was enduring and passionate: she responded to his wandering hands with an eagerness that made me feel sick. I quelled the urge to run across the grass and grab her by that perfect hair and dunk her headlong in the lake. I needed to see her appear gasping for breath, weeds and algae clinging to her like a bad smell to unwashed clothes. There was little desire in me to stand there like a wronged wife, waiting to see how far her husband would go with a … a … whore half his age, but I was determined to watch them until they’d finished their little tryst.

As they cavorted and writhed together across the lawn from where I stood I let my mind wander back to the rows we had had over the years.

 

We were barely a year into our marriage before I began to suspect he was having an affair. I lost count of the times he had promised me it was all over; lost count of the times I had forgiven him. Then one day it occurred to me that his behaviour was different. Something had changed in his life; he was suddenly more attentive to me. His affair was, indeed, over, he assured me, adding as an afterthought that his other woman had died in a road accident. Maybe he thought that little snippet would salve my hurt; instantly ease the pain I felt inside me. Instead it simply twisted the knife and plunged it deeper into my heart.

As the years went by we did grow closer; closer than we had ever been. We began to enjoy a normal married life: holidays, entertaining friends, enjoying hobbies. Finally, just over nine and a half months ago, we stood together at a friend’s house as the seconds ticked the old year away and the New Year approached. As the twelfth strike of Big Ben grew silent my husband reached out and took me by the hand and told me his New Year’s Resolution. With just the hint of a tear in his eye he said: “Darling, my resolution is to keep you close to my heart forever.” I believed him and I felt the knife finally leave my broken body.

 

As I stand here now, watching his hand exploring that bitch’s thigh, I let self-pity tighten its hold on me – allow myself to reflect on the wasted years. Years when I nursed him through broken bones and ill-health, shared his disappointment at losing the job he loved and his grief at losing both parents in a hotel fire. I dwell on the countless hours standing ironing the horrible white cotton shirts he wears for the office, the cold winter days when I’ve stood in a windy field watching a meaningless game of rugby when a warm house and a cup of hot coffee were infinitely more appealing. Yes I feel bitter. Yes I feel angry. But I also feel something more today. For today is the last day she will have him.

I see the woman reach down for her oh-so-posh Harrods bag and remove my husband’s pack lunch. Watch as she opens the foil wrapping and playfully runs the edge of a sandwich across his lips. Watch as he takes her by the wrist and bites deeply into the sandwich that I had made with so much care just a few hours before.

The reaction, when it begins, is sudden and violent, and in a perverse way I am filled with pity for the woman. I look away as tears flood my face, unwilling to be a witness to this awful spectacle. It seems to take forever. Then I hear her screams. I return my gaze and see her shouting into her phone; my husband is lying on the grass at her feet. I’m fighting to stop myself running to my husband’s side … and I still want to go over there and dunk his slut in the lake. Instead, I take a tissue from my bag and turn towards home.

My husband’s nut allergy has brought him close to death on more than one occasion; we have battled it together throughout our married life. I think we both knew it would kill him in the end.

 

Copyright © J E Emberson 2007