Friday, February 13, 2009


It's getting dark, a couple of days after the snows, and I'm standing outside my house, finishing a conversation on the mobile with my mother Esme. I've been getting an especially bad work day out of my system before entering the domestic world within.

It's cold, Ma, I'm going to go in now, I say. The curtains are drawn, it looks cosy, and inside are Flo, my salt-of-the-earth neighbour who minds Anna-mouse when I can't, and Anna-m herself, waiting for me to come home.

So I hang up and reach for the porch door and just as I my hand gets to the handle I hear a voice behind me say Livvy.

I turn and there is a woman there - what, my age? Taller, fuller of face, not unattractive, intense. I think she must be one of the school mums, but I can't place her. I rack my brains for how she might know me.

Hello, I say, warmly, pretending greater acquaintance than I feel.

She comes closer, it all happens so fast. I didn't know whether to write this, I'm not proud of myself, I'm really sorry, I think she says.

She hands me a letter, holds my gaze meaningfully for a moment or two longer, then quickly goes.

Something really strange just happened, I say as I walk in the door. Flo comes towards me with a tea towel in her hand. These things, these tiny things, they stick with you, you know? Like Anna-mouse's little face, smiling up at me.

Oh, there was a strange woman come to the door about an hour ago, Flo says, did she look like... Yes, I say, she did.

When she appeared the first time she had knocked and asked for me and wouldn't leave a name, Flo said. Flo had thought it odd, and even odder as the hour went by the more she thought about it, so when I walked in with the letter she said I think you'd better sit down, Liv.

I tried to protest, and, even as I did so, began to open the envelope.

I read just three lines there, with the two of them standing looking at me:

I have been wrestling with my conscience for some time as to whether or not to write this, but have decided to go ahead, so here goes. My name is S--- and I am a work colleague of your husband's.

I look up. I am staggeringly calm. I know that this is it. I know that life isn't going to be the same.

I think I do need to sit down, Flo. Would you just watch Anna-m for a couple more minutes, I'm going to go upstairs.

I sit on the edge of the bed. I read it once. It's enough: a woman has waited over an hour outside my house to hand me a letter in which she tells me she has had an affair with my husband during precisely those weeks I thought he and I were making a huge, ultimate effort to repair our marriage. I don't care if it's true or not (he still swears blind it is not). Enough.

I am getting out of this soap opera, I think, and go instantly back downstairs. I have a daughter to play with, I have the supper to cook.

I am, of course, in shock. My heart is ice. I round the bottom step, and as Flo looks up at me, her big dear eyes full of concern, the moment is set forever as I feel the last tired, frayed thread running between myself and the Bim
cleanly, keenly, irrevocably snap.

It's over, Flo, I hear myself say


Richard said...

Wonderful beautiful writing. If only it weren't so painful... But there it is. There is a world elsewhere. You are loved, my dear friend.

Debbie said...

My heart is aching for you, dear Livvy, even though I sense you have the inner strength you will need to move through and beyond the days ahead. Hugs, Debbie

rachel whetzel said...

OH, Livvy. I'm so sorry. I love you so much.

Daisy said...

Your daughter, your writing, your friends and your strength will get you through this. As always, your words are moving and beautiful x

nuttycow said...

There's something in the water. You and me both.

Am sorry to hear about the affair but at least now you know and you can move on. New starts are good.

Suffolkmum said...

Oh Livvy. I'm so sorry to catch up with you after all this time and to read this. My heart was in my mouth, hoping for a happy ending. Really TRULY sorry. You will get through this. Much love to you. xx

merry weather said...

Dear Livvy - I'm so sorry to read about this.

How that deed stinks.

One would think that past a certain age women might stop hurting each other like this. And just be silent.

Clearly your Bim is a man to inspire great passion and consequently jealousy - perhaps?

He was most fortunate to know you - his loss now. Not yours.

I don't know if that helps - We all know how strong you are. And inspiring -

Hugs - MerryX

Heidi said...

So beautifully written, if only it were fiction and not your painful reality. I'm so sorry. Thinking of you.

Reluctant Memsahib said...

i am so sorry livvy. so sorry. x