Two short

Karen felt as if she’d been living in a bubble all these years… twenty-three to be exact. Two short of their silver anniversary and too short is what she’d turned out to be.

Before she’d had a chance to give him his card, bring out the voucher from her handbag, tell him she’d booked their favourite restaurant for lunch, Elliot had announced at breakfast that he’d met someone else.

He told Karen off for being emotional when she’d asked who the woman was. “No-one you know,” he’d answered but he’d never been a good liar.

“It’s Sarah… isn’t it?” she’d stuttered, tears streaming down her face.

He’d gone quiet, eyes down at the newspaper she knew he’d not really been reading.

Sarah, his PA, had been the obvious choice, they spent so much time together. She was the female version of him; thin and all legs.

Karen stood opposite him at the dining room table, hands gripping the back of one of the chairs, her knuckles turning white as it became clear that he was enjoying the discussion. She wanted to ask him how long it had been going on, how serious it was, what was going to happen now but instead she watched him slurp his tea, wipe his nose on his sleeve and laugh like a machine gun at something in the paper.

“OK, bye,” she said and walked into lounge, turned on the TV and changed the channel to one she wanted to watch. She listened to him drag back his chair, dump his breakfast dishes into the sink and plod upstairs. Moments later he thumped a suitcase back down the stairs and pulled up its handle as he reached the hall. Putting on his jacket as he walked into the lounge, he coughed, but Karen ignored him.

He coughed again.

She hit the mute button and looked up. “Yes?”

“I’m off.”

“Like bad wine,” she said and smiled, surprised at herself.

“Don’t be like that.”

“I can be however I like. I’m single now.” Then it hit her, she was, she could do whatever she wanted for the first time in more than half her lifetime. She tapped the mute button again and the voices sprang back into action.

As she listened to Elliot wheel his case, haul it over the threshold and slam the front door, she reached into her bag, pulled out the voucher and stared at it. She wanted to tear it into little pieces, tear Elliot into little pieces, but she’d never recoup the money she’d spent on it so she dialled the number on the back. Before she could ask whether it was transferrable or refundable she’d made an appointment for the following morning.

After the best night’s sleep she’d had in years, she showered, dressed and ate a small breakfast. Grabbing her handbag, car keys and jacket she left the house, closing the front door gently, tenderly stroking the red-painted wood as if it now belonged only to her.

Driving along the dual carriageway, she put her foot down pretending she was Stirling Moss or Jenson Button, until she reached her exit. Following the signs she pulled into the visitor’s car park.

With the voucher in her hand she strode towards the reception and past the sign saying, ‘Welcome to Silverstone’.

***

Photography courtesy of morguefile.com.

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