It was early spring when I first saw her. She was tall, slender, with her skirt tucked inside her panties, her feet in the fountain, she was dancing. She seemed not to care that the box topiary shrubs shimmered with hoarfrost and that her willowy legs were almost blue.
On Valentine’s Day, Gayle sent me a card. She had crafted it from scraps of the skirt she had been wearing in the water and had glued the pieces in a heart shape to the card.
As the first bronze leaves slipped into the pond in the park, I proposed. Within days we made our vows under a sky shot with bolts of blue, purple, pink and yards of yellow.
The Monday morning after the honeymoon, she rose early, leaving the heat of our bed to cool down in the shower. She returned to my side, dressed in a simple A-line shift, her auburn hair neatly pinned, her face a flawless mask of make-up.
‘Sol, I am going to work now.’
‘Oh sweetie, do you have to go in today? Wouldn’t you rather hop back in and huddle up with me?’
She grinned, pulled away from my foraging fingers and ran out the door.
From that day onwards, whatever she wanted doing around the house, I made sure it was done by the time she got home.
One winter evening, the door slammed.
‘Prat!’ she screamed.
‘What’s wrong sweetheart?’
She stood in the hallway, her cream stockings and stilettoes slightly spattered with mud, her hair damp from the drizzle outside.
‘Some prat, driving too fast down our avenue, that’s what. Look at the state of me.’
‘It’s okay, Gayle. It’s nothing a little soap and water won’t shift.’
She didn’t sleep well that night. She said that she thought there was a storm coming. By daybreak, I was sure the stillness of clouds in the sky said otherwise.
When she went to work and I spent the day looking for a job.
A month later, I was cooking supper in the kitchen, she appeared in the doorway, her hair wet enough for wisps to cling to her face.
Seeing my expression, she pounced on me.
‘What the hell are you smirking at? Do you think I do this for my health, whilst you sit at home poncing off of me?’
‘Hey, Honey. You know that’s not true. Soon, we’ll have two wages to add to the pot.’
Later, I sprinkled rose oil droplets in her bath water and did my best to placate her. She didn’t sleep well that night either. She paced the parquet floor. In the morning, we left for work not speaking. As always, she presented the world with her perfectly polished image.
At the end of January, the snowdrops were pushing up between the roots of the mature trees in the garden. The sudden rise in temperature brought perilous driving conditions to the roads and motorways. When a lightning flash splintered the sky and rain fell so fast the wipers could not cope, I knew I would be late home.
When I arrived, she was stood in the downpour; motionless.
Once inside, she started.
‘I lost my keys. I couldn’t get in. Where have you been, you prick?’
I hardly recognised the woman I married some months before. Her unpinned hair hung in serpentine sections that clung to her skin. Her mascara ran in rivulets down her face and the straps of her designer dress had slid from her shoulders.
‘You think I would set foot across her door? I’ve seen the way she looks at you.’
‘What? You must be out of your mind. The woman is in her sixties. Why would I want her, when I have you?’
‘Sod off Sol, just sodding well sod off! You really have no idea what you have done, do you?’
I had no notion of what she meant by this, but it set her off on a wrecking-ball spree. She ran from room to room, her arms whirling, bringing anything in her path to the floor. It got so bad, the crashing and banging, the ear-splitting screaming, I filled a tumbler full of tequila, downed it and dived under the duvet.
I think she came to bed. I can’t be sure, but in the morning the front door was open and her clothes were scattered over the sitting room floor. One of her stockings had a large ladder in it.
Blood? Where had the blood in her panties come from? And, what the hell was pondweed doing there?
I never saw her again after that night. I’ll never know what it was about wet weather that bugged her so bad. Or, why I kept the laddered stocking but I have a feeling that someday, I will see someone like her, in a fountain, dancing, and will be reminded of why we fell apart.
Copyright © Talia Hardy. 27.01.2012