Anatomy of a break up
By Kristin Dockar
Lucy thought that maybe the marriage was over. She and Will had just spent five days in Venice, which had been lovely, but loveless. They had rented a loft apartment in Caravaggio. but slept in separate beds. In fact, they had slept in separate rooms. They had a very reasonable discussion about this. How it was probably for the best because it was very hot, and they would be restless, and this way was sensible because they would both get a good night’s sleep.
Unspoken conversations hung in the air. So often she had wanted to say ‘What’s happened to us Will? Are you worried?’ but she never said anything, fearing the answers. She had no idea if Will was thinking the same. She had looked at herself carefully in a full-length mirror to see if her looks had completely faded. She was 62 now. Had she become invisible? but when she looked at herself, she saw a trim, tall woman with short, blonde highlighted hair which was flattering. Her eyes, always her best feature were still a clear grey, green colour with full lashes. She knew Will to be still an attractive man. After all, somebody had once thought he was worth having an affair with. He was a year older than her. Also tall and slim, and still good looking. So, she concluded they were still reasonably attractive people, it just seemed, not to each other.
Then just four days ago on a sodden, permanently raining Monday morning she had casually asked Will if there was anything wrong. They had spent the previous evening in virtual silence, the only sounds the rustling of his newspaper and the clicking of keys as she worked on her poetry.
At 11am precisely Lucy made them both a cup of coffee and after she had set the cups down, she said ‘Will is there anything wrong? You look so miserable’.
He had frowned, and then suddenly the words seemed to spill out of him as he sat straight up, looked her directly in the face and answered ‘Yes there is. I’m fed up with your know-it-all, bossy attitude’.
Lucy was staggered and looked at him in amazement.
The she had shouted right back at him.
‘Well, I’m fed up with your miserable, moody face. Do you know what I think...?’
Before she could continue, he had shouted ‘I’m really not interested’
‘Well you can hear it anyway. You’re bored and that makes you a bore. You haven’t got enough to do. You spend your life doing DIY that just doesn’t need doing, and you hate it that I’ve got a life’ and with that she got up and walked out of the room. Her legs were shaking as she walked upstairs and went into their bedroom, where nothing ever happened, and sat on the bed.
’42 years’ she thought ‘can it really be over’. She felt terribly afraid.
Their life together had always been full, happy and busy but she realised that throughout their marriage they had spent very little time together.
They had both had busy careers, lots of friends and were always active. But thinking it through she knew they had very little in common. They had always laughed about this, about how opposite they were in many ways but maybe that was a good thing. If she was honest she had had been glad that Will played cricket seriously because it meant she had whole days without him.
Theirs had been a passionate relationship for a long, long time. When had that stopped? It wasn’t that old cliché about being retired. They had both loved the freedom retirement gave them. She realised again that this had slowly fizzled out, but she didn’t know why.
Thinking it all through she felt they had simply lost interest in each other. They had not talked about what was happening to them for a long time because they probably both knew the answers. As a couple they had just been going through the motions. Life was simply a set of routines and habits, like always having a coffee at 11am.
Sitting there with the rain pouring down the windows, she felt utterly, utterly sad, frightened and so lonely.
Random thoughts scuttled about in her head.
‘We will have to sell this house. Will we have enough money from the sale to each buy somewhere?
What will the kids think?
Will we still see the grandchildren together?’
That was such a shared source of happiness. Again, if she was honest, time spent with their grandchildren was the only time they were truly spontaneous. They loved to play board games together and had such a riotous, happy time. They liked to congratulate themselves on getting the grandchildren off their ‘screens’.
The sadness overwhelmed her again. She felt old, unattractive, boring. But then she thought ‘That’s what I think about Will now’.
Lucy felt the first real prickles of unfairness.
‘I am critical’ she thought ‘and I do always think I know best’.
As she sat there, she wondered if it was too late. Was there any chance of saving things?
She heard a noise, steps on the stairs, and Will carefully opened the bedroom door.
He sat down on the bed and took hold of his wife’s hand.
‘Oh Will, I’m sorry too. I can’t bear to think that we could be throwing away all those years. We have been happy for such a long time’.
They held on to each other as if they were drowning. The shelves in the bedroom were cluttered with photos of their children, their grandchildren, their wedding day, holidays abroad. Happy times.
They looked at each other, really looked and saw their lifetime together reflected in each other’s face.
Will grinned. Lucy smiled back at him. ‘Let’s try again’.
Will smiled his gentle smile. Then he got off the bed and said ‘OK. I’ll just go and get on with sanding down those skirting boards’.
Lucy stared at him aghast. Again, he grinned.
‘I’m joking Lucy. Get your jacket on. We’ll go out to lunch. Time to put a bit of fizz back into things’.
Lucy breathed deeply. Maybe, just maybe, things would change.