As she reached up to kiss me goodbye I felt my wife’s hand rest on my chest. “Look after yourself out there” she said: it was what she always said but somehow there was a sense of urgency about it today, or was my conscience talking? I was on my way to work among other things.
I’d already told her I would be late back because I was dining out with colleagues, not an unusual event, but on this occasion I was being economical with the truth. Maria, an intern spending the summer with our company had brought that edge of curiosity and interest to the day not normally seen in working circles, at least not mine. I like to think, I have a reputation for being impersonally professional at all times but that changed under her influence into something much more personal.
She was of an age where adventure is much more interesting than it’s consequences, and small details like my marriage and the photograph of my young son which she saw on my desk meant nothing to her compared to two souls melding in a moment of abandon: her interest in me was much more about my position than my person but somehow that made her company more enticing.
My wife is a loving soul and generous soul, who I met at university, From our earliest time together she always listened to me with interest and cared for my needs as though I were an undiscovered dignitary. People seeing us wondered at her devotion and counted me a lucky man to have her by my side, but I have to tell you, if you cannot escape it, such a paradise can generate a sense of claustrophobia and I was suffocating!
I did not seek her praise but gained it anyway. She was as pliable and open to ideas as a man could wish for and there was no situation in which she did not put my interests first. In the kitchen she worked constantly to create dishes that would both please and challenge my pallet: in short she was infuriating; perfectly so. What was there not to love? Who would not wish to be cherished by such a woman but I felt trapped by her attentions and found myself longing for unauthorised excitement.
My wife was waiting up for me when I got back from “work” if we can call it that, as was her habit, and she helped me off with my coat as she always did, but her eyes seemed guarded and her remark was unusual. “Is that a new aftershave you are wearing?” she asked. I thought it best not to reply!
The next morning I rose in my customary manner after drinking the tea she always made for me. I showered, dressed and went downstairs to discover a suitcase standing by the front door. “ You’ll need that wherever you plan to stay,” she said as she reached up to kiss me in her normal manner although she did not lay her hand upon my chest. When I looked down at her, her eyes were like an empty space, though touched by sadness and regret, and I was powerless to deny their accusation.