The Bear family lived in a cottage near Oxford. There was Nick Bear, aged 52, whose wife, Eadie aged 38, had recently left him to go and live with her Yoga teacher, and their son Ben Bear, aged 12. In happier times they had called themselves ‘The Three Bears’ family’.
Today, Nick was with his mum, Lily. They walked up the garden path and silently looked at the three pairs of wellies lined up outside the front door.
‘Well that’s just another reminder that she’s gone. I’ll move her boots before Ben comes home. She won’t be needing them in Delhi’.
Nick unlocked the door and they stepped in. If you looked carefully, everything was in threes.
Three lovely bamboo chairs sat around the dining table and the settee was a three-seater. When Nick sat with his son to eat the empty chair was just a painful reminder of his loss.
His mum turned to him ‘Have you heard anything from Eadie?’
‘Ben has, He had a text to say she had arrived safely’.
‘I suppose she’s with him?’ Lily said sourly.
‘Yes. Who would have thought. What a spin off from Yoga classes’.
‘Did you talk to her before she went?’
‘Of course I did. I begged but she was having none of it. Said she needed to do this, needed to ‘find herself’ before she disappeared altogether. That empty chair sums it up. We were so happy, just the three, of us and now there’s just this horrible gap’.
At that moment Nick’s elderly neighbour Edith popped out of her front door.
‘Any news Nick?’
‘Not really Edith. I was just telling mum, Ben’s had a text to say she’s OK’.
‘Who would have thought’ mused Edith ‘but we could all see that she fancied the pants of Devram, and she was so much younger than the rest of the class’.
Nick’s eyes watered and Lily looked sour.
‘Ok, Ok, Edith, no need to go on. Things are bad enough as it is without you rubbing it in’
Nick rubbed his eyes ‘She loved going to Yoga. Said it took her out of herself. Gave her space for an hour or two. I had no idea she was so unhappy’.
Lilly looked at her son and said ‘Well. You’ve really let yourself go Nick. You’ve become very, very boring. You never want to do anything. She’s only 38. She doesn’t want to face up to a lifetime of telly watching’.
‘Thanks Mum. A real support you are. Anyway, she was a good mum. I could never imagine her leaving Ben. She said we were the ‘Three Bears’ and no Goldilocks was going to spoil that. We hadn’t factored in the Yoga Guru’.
‘Just shows how unhappy and desperate she must have felt’.
A long howl rose from somewhere deep within Nick.
The two elderly ladies looked at him in some alarm. They were not of a generation to deal with a weeping, sobbing man. Lily looked at her watch and saw it was 3.10pm. Ben would be home from school soon.
‘Come on Nick. Pull yourself together. Let’s move her boots. Too much of a reminder’
‘I could take them down the charity shop’ suggested Edith.
Nick looked distraught. ‘No, No Edith. I’ll put them in the shed. She might come back, and come to think of it, I’ll fold the chair up. Too many memories with that chair’. He rushed indoors, picked up the chair and came back out to pick up the wellies. Again, the two ladies looked at him dismissively.
‘Grow up Nick’, said his mum.
They all heard the gate click and looked round. Ben was coming up the path.
‘Hi all. Had a text from mum. She says she hates it over there. Too hot and dusty, and Devram ‘s turned out to be a bit of a twat. Here dad look at this’ and Ben handed over the phone.
Nick looked at the screen and read’ Tell dad I’m sorry’.
Carefully Nick turned back indoors and placed the chair back round the ‘Three Bears’ table.