She had been watching him from the kitchen window.  The ‘goose-bumps’ and fluttering of her stomach surprised her: after 17 years of marriage, and four children, she did not expect to be stirred.

The water seeping into her Marigolds brought Catriona back to the present and she made to empty the sink.  As she felt the taut resistance of the plug-chain, she looked out again and realised that Murdo was no longer there, and that she was no longer roused, but flustered.  She jerked at the chain and, suddenly, more than dirty water was draining away, the fluttering was a different kind of emotion, panic.

She was still in free-fall when Murdo came in to wash the smell of drains from his hands.  Did it show?  How could he not notice her turmoil, her burning face, her bright eyes.  Why didn’t he say something? He spoke over his shoulder, “I’ll send the bill to Allan.”

“He doesn’t even see me”, she thought “I’m part of the background, another kitchen appliance, another broken drain: an adjunct to another man’s life. A wife.”  She screamed silently, “Why not me, send the bill to me, this is MY house, I’m here, see ME”.   She said, “Fine” and handed him the towel, but held onto it so that, at least, he would have to stand facing her.

Later, the shipping forecast incanting in the next room, Catriona sat on the edge their bed, re-running her life for a sign that she was mistaken, hysterical, hormonal.  Allan would say that.  Anyone would say that.  Everyone WILL say that.   But there was no sign, only a bottomless void where certainty once was, and that was what thrilled her.  She was at the top of the roller coaster, too late to get off, arms raised in exultation and shouting in excited terror.  She was in love, but not with Murdo or her husband: she was in love with the feeling of being in love again.

How could she tell kind, steady Allan, safe Allan, reliable, predictable boring Allan, that she felt smothered, most of all by his compulsion to plan every last drop of spontaneity from their lives – from her life.

How could she tell him?  How could she not?


© Andrew Gold