As he let himself in through the front door, the smell of dinner hit his nostrils.
As always, the house was clean and tidy. On opening the lounge door, he noticed the bookshelves weren’t so cluttered and the annoying mug collection had finally been put away.
He opened the kitchen door to………. no-one. The oven light showed his favourites, shepherds pie and rice pudding, cooking inside.
Maybe she’s just nipped out for five minutes.
He went upstairs where the smell of polish, fresh linens and towels lingered. Having changed out of his filthy working clothes and leaving them in a heap on the floor, he went back downstairs.
A letter was propped up against the TV remote.
I am sorry there was no other way to do this, but you really gave me no choice.
The girls know I won’t be here when you collect them from their mother’s this evening. What I didn’t tell them is that I’m not coming back.”
He looked around in disbelief.
She’d done it then. Left. Just like that.
Well obviously not ‘Just like that’.
As he read on, the bitch had not only prepared his evening meal, but birthday gifts were in the cupboard for the following weekend, all the housework, laundry and shopping was up straight, and he’d find the cheque book in the drawer.
Sure enough, there it was. Together with the business card of some financial guy.
He ate his dinner, left the washing up in the sink and went to collect his daughters.
Explaining the situation to his ex-wife did not go down well.
‘Who’s going to look after the kids then? Don’t look at me. I’ve got to work.’
‘I’ve spoken to my Mum. She said they can go to her after school until I get home. It’s a bloody nuisance. She wasn’t exactly pleased about it either.’
Now teenagers, the eldest was subdued but not surprised, and the youngest glad to see the back of her. She’d never been able to twist her round her little finger as she did with everyone else and they’d never really got on, especially since the truancy and shoplifting episode.
He pondered on what to do. The letter said she was staying with family, so she’d obviously gone home to Mummy.
‘Yes, we know where she is. I’ll tell her you called, but it’s up to her whether she contacts you.’
and she hung up. Bloody cheek!
He reached for the address book alongside the phone. Except it wasn’t the address book she used. This one was new, and had just his relatives and contact numbers in it. DAMN!
A couple of hours later, his phone rang.
‘Hi. You wanted to talk to me?’
‘Too bloody right! What the hell is going on? I was going to take you out for a meal tomorrow and we were going to talk.’
She laughed, but there was no humour in it.
‘No you weren’t. You never want to talk. I gave you MONTHS to talk. I explained it all in my letter. You don’t love me. If the girls hadn’t been so young when we met and you needed a mother for them, you wouldn’t have given me a second glance. It’s better this way. Truly. If I’m honest, I don’t even like you anymore.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean? I provided a home, paid the bills. What more do you want?’
‘That’s something else we needed to talk about. We have a joint mortgage, and I’ve paid my share all the years we’ve been together. I spoke to an advisor and he has some ideas for remortgaging the property so that you can buy me out. You should give him a call.’
‘I’m not ringing anybody! Now you get your ass back here!’
The phone went dead.
He took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and dialled.
‘Hi. You doing anything?’
‘Not particularly. Why?’
For the next half an hour he told his sorry tale.
‘And you’ve no idea why she left?’
‘Absolutely none. She seemed OK this morning.’
‘Well, she did spend a lot of her time with her family last year once she got her confidence back to drive.’
‘Bloody new boyfriend more like, though of course she denies it’.
‘And she did sort out that nasty business with your youngest , getting the shop manager to drop the charges in exchange for an apology’.
‘Didn’t she pay to get your car back on the road after you put it in a ditch last month? ‘
‘ And you say she hasn’t taken anything that wasn’t hers, everything was up straight and there’s money in the bank?’
‘Yeah, but that’s not the point! Everything’s gone. My life’s gone down the toilet and I’ve got 2 kids!’
‘Matt, from what you’ve told me, everything has NOT gone. It’s your little organised babysitting homemaker that’s gone and you’ll have to take over your responsibilities.’
‘But it’s not fair! I was planning to go out with the lads tonight and can’t now because there’s no-one here to look after the girls. Tomorrow there’s a stag do, strippers and everything, and I can’t go to that either!’
‘Oh, what a shame. Did she know that?’
‘Yes she bloody did! Well, not the stag thing actually, I intended to tell her I was training or something. That’s probably why she decided to leave today. To spoil my fun’.
‘Nah. I think she finally realised what a louse you are, taking, giving nothing back, and living the life of a single guy with all the perks of being in a relationship.’
‘Hey! Whose side are you on? I thought I could count on you, especially as we’ve had some great times together this past year.’
‘Do you think she found out about our affair then?’
‘No chance. I kept your phone number on me and the lads covered for me if asked. Why don’t you come over now and meet my girls properly? We could make a night of it, if you know what I mean.’
‘Sorry, can’t. I’ve got visitors. But Matt?’
‘I’m saying goodbye too. And good luck. You’re going to need it.’
For the third time that evening, the phone went dead in his hand.
The two women smiled at each other over the rims of their wine glasses.
‘He really has no idea has he?’
‘Not a clue. But how did you find out about me?’
‘Itemised billing on the phone bill and following him to ‘training’ with the help of one of his mates. Actually they all hate his guts. They also all knew I was leaving today and kept quiet. Thanks for backing me up by the way.’
‘No need. You’ve done me a favour. Funny, men never know what they had until it’s gone.’