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.