I love you too, Katie. See you tomorrow.”
Maddy collapsed into the lounge chair, rocking and hugging herself. Tears streamed down her face as her body was wracked with pain. She had trouble breathing and could feel a panic attack starting. Maddy had a shower to calm herself. There were no king’s men to put this Humpty Dumpty back together. The hot water stung her body as salty tears tumbled down. She wept, she moaned, her body shook.
It was her fault. Life’s puzzle lay scattered on the table. She had never built its frame to understand the unexpected romantic gifts (an ornate pewter jewellery box), late nights at work, or his disinterest. Richard hadn’t noticed when she stopped wearing her wedding ring. He didn’t wear his anymore either. She’d waited for him to return to her. It was too late. Richard loved Katie, whoever she was.
As Maddy dried herself she heard the front door key turning. He was home. She heard him whistling in the kitchen. Bastard. Anger was easier than pain. She would use that. She wrapped the towel around herself and stormed out of the bathroom.
“Who is Katie?” she snarled, rounding the corner and slamming straight into him.
He dropped the mug of coffee he had been holding. The hot liquid splashed on her legs but she didn’t even flinch. Her eyes bored into his.
First, he looked away. Then, with a grim smile on his lips, he turned to her and growled, “someone better than you.” He stared at her bitterly. Richard couldn’t understand. She had turned away from him first. It wasn’t a lack of sex. It was the way she didn’t smile at him every morning like she used to. Her eyes never lit up anymore. She didn’t laugh at his jokes. The Maddy he loved had died replaced with this cold echo. Finally, she had stopped wearing her wedding ring. He knew what that meant.
His eyes glistened but he held back the tears. His mobile rang. This was not the time to answer and he knew that. Maddy saw it and grabbed it off the table before he could stop her. It was Katie.
“Richard’s ball and chain, how may I help you?” said Maddy sarcastically.
There was a long pause and then finally a deep sigh. “Hi, Maddy. I guess you know.”
“I don’t know who you are and I don’t care,” Maddy screamed, pain tearing through her. How long had this been going on for? It didn’t matter. She dropped the phone and got her car keys. She couldn’t breathe here anymore.
Richard pleaded “Maddy please don’t leave like this. Don’t throw our marriage away. Please stay.”
A tear slid down her left cheek. “Why did you stop wearing your wedding ring?”
Richard held his hand out to her and she cautiously put her hand in his. “I didn’t think you noticed.”
Maddy and Richard were oblivious to Katie. She hung up the phone. It seems she had was thrown away.