I thought that I would share with you the first chapter of my next novel. This is going to sit alongside Madison Brown in the humour category and is a one off standalone novel. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might like it.
I am woken up by the usual sound of my husband belching and worse from the en suite. I find it strangely comforting and fleetingly wonder if it would work as a design concept for an alarm clock. I mean surely I'm not alone, there must be millions of women waking up to the familiar sounds every day. I suppose it's the human equivalent of a cock crowing.
I keep my eyes tightly shut as I hear him coming back into the room. If I can just make it five more minutes then he will be off downstairs and I will be spared from the morning grope.
How is it best to feign sleep? I mean probably I should throw in a little snort or a snore, maybe thrash around a bit and perfect some rapid eye movement. Instead I lie here like a frozen statue, tense and in tune to every last bodily function that he makes.
I can sense him approaching my side of the bed, the one that I have occupied for the last twenty years of our marriage. Strange how territorial we all get over a certain side. Even when we go on holiday we adopt the same procedures, it becomes "My Side."
Now he is hovering beside me and I run my tongue around my teeth trying to dispel my morning breath. What if he wants a session before work? I wonder if I could fit it in before the school run.
I feel a gentle tap on my arm and he whispers, "Sophie, are you awake?" I wonder how to open my eyes. Should I adopt the wanton sex kitten pose or the irate bored housewife and downtrodden wife and mother pose. He taps my arm again and says louder, "Sophie, wake up I need to say something." Well this is different, it looks like I will be spared from a marathon session, I say marathon more like a gentle jog on his part before falling at the first hurdle. Stamina has never been his strong point.
My eyes snap open and I take in the sight of my husband of the last twenty years. Slightly wider with a lot less hair than when I first met him, sporting the grey hair that becomes distinguished on a man and screams pensioner on a woman. He looks at me with a worried expression and I sit up now extremely curious.
"What's the matter darling, can't you find a matching pair of socks? I'm sure there are some in the utility room." He looks down and sits on the bed next to me, perching on the edge as if he is afraid that I will bite. I shift into an upright position and once again wonder what it could be. If I am taking bets it's probably something to do my birthday. I am going to be 40 next week and he has been hinting at a surprise for the last few months. Suddenly I feel excited. Maybe he has booked us a mini break without Harry and Mr Tumnus. Gosh I can't remember the last time we did something on our own. When you have a 6 year old and a cocker spaniel they do take up quite a bit of your time. Feeling happy at the thought I smile at him and set my mood to act surprised when he springs the treat on me.
He starts fiddling with his hands which he always does when he is nervous and I detect a flush creeping over his neck. He looks at me and I see that he is genuinely nervous and a sudden fear grips me. Oh no he must have a terrible illness. Maybe that visit to the doctor last week was bad news. He might have an incurable illness and only have months to live. I might be widowed and have to bring up Harry on my own. Oh my god I don't suit black and even worse I might have to actually join the rat race and work 9-5. My anxiety levels are now on code red and reaching out I grasp his hand gently. "What's the matter Lysander, you're worrying me." He shifts away almost as if he can't bear me to touch him and then appears to steel himself to deliver the bad news. Turning towards me he fixes me with a blank stare and says in a loud determined voice, "I'm sorry Sophie but I've met someone else and I want a divorce."
For a moment I think that I must be still asleep. I sit still and just stare at him whilst my mind struggles to compute this unusual information. I blink rapidly in the hope that every time I re-focus he will have two heads and have the body of a wilder beast. I mean surely I am dreaming because we don't even argue. He looks at me anxiously. "Do you understand Sophie? I'm sorry but I can't pretend anymore. It's not fair on any of us and I can't go on living a lie."
My hand flies up to my mouth as if I can't be trusted to form a coherent sentence. My mind is spinning and I suppose I must be in shock because surely I should be crying and screaming and bashing him over the head with the industrial torch that I keep under the bed for emergencies in case of power cuts or intruders. They don't sell Tasers in Robert Dyas and now I can see why as I know that I would be very much using it on him right now and I wouldn't even issue the "Taser- Taser" warning before I let him have it.
He shakes his head and stands up awkwardly.
"Listen I can see that you need time to get your head around what I have just told you and I am running late for the office. We will talk later and iron everything out then. I just want to say that it's not you it's me and I have changed. I am sure that when you come to terms with it you will see that it's for the best. Well at least it's out in the open now. Anyway sorry to have to run but you know life goes on as they say. I'll let Mr Tumnus out when I go downstairs, just remember not to leave him out there too long as I still haven't mended that hole in the fence at the end."
And then he is gone.
I am still sitting in the same place when a little body comes flying into the room and jumps on the bed. "Mummy, Mummy I didn't mean it and Fireman Sam has wetted the bed again with his hose."
I look down at the gorgeous bundle of love that is my son Harry. Large gentle brown eyes look up at me carrying the weight of the world in them as he looks at me anxiously. I just about understand what he just said and pull him to me tightly and stroke his soft brown hair that never seems to sit straight.
"Don't worry baby boy, we'll send in the cleaning troll. Do you need to use the toilet now?" he grips me tightly and says quietly, "No thank you, I think that it's all gone now." My heart tightens as I sit holding my little boy. Six years old and about to discover that his little world has fallen apart. I blink back the tears and set my resolve in place. Not now, he can have at least one more day of happiness. I will make sure that he is fine, my momma bear is rushing to the fore and now my little boy is the most important thing in my life.
I paste a smile on my face and tickle him stupid. The sound of his laughter is like a knife to my heart and I feel a sudden rush of hatred for my soon to be ex husband. How could he do this to his son? The thought of what is now in my future is almost too much to bear. I push it all away and start the process of totally overcompensating my son. "How about I make you loads of sticky sugary American pancakes for breakfast like they do on the television?" His screams of joy gives me the answer I need and he grabs my hand in excitement and bounds from the bed. "Can I eat them in my spaceman suit?" I nod. "Of course you can Mr Astronaut. Whilst you get suited up I will head off to mission control and prepare for lift off." He hurries from the room and leaves me to get a grip.