David and Diane have been married for years; then there is Julie, the young secretary whose axis collides with the couple’s in ways none of them saw coming.
I had expected David to show up at my parents’ house, or at least call and demand that I return to our home within a day or two, but days went by with no word from him.
While the children initially had not minded their impromptu visit to their grandparents, by the time the weekend rolled around, they began to complain about missing their father, and wanting to go home.
As for my father, he was not speaking to me and we had spent the week studiously trying to avoid each other. Only my mother was being sympathetic and understanding, but I could tell that she too was anxious for me to leave, worried about the strain my presence was putting on her own marriage, and that nosy neighbours and the local church women would start to gossip about her married daughter’s prolonged visit.
If only David had called or even texted, I would have returned to our home immediately; but he had not, and I refused to be the one to make the first move, when he was the one in the wrong.
During the week it was easy to keep engaged, as I would drop the children off at school, then head to the boutique, where I would spend the time whining to Tracy about what a mess my life was.
She agreed with me that David had to be the one to make the first move, but it had been a week now. I was beginning to grow desperate. What if he never called? Did that mean I would have to rent a place?
The mere thought filled me with dread and I felt myself getting closer to the brink of despair.
In the week since Diane left, I was relieved to find that at least Julie had gone back to being the sweet, submissive girl I had fallen in love with.
Not wanting to leave the house empty overnight, I did not spend nights at the flat with her, but I was always there early enough to have a quick breakfast before we left for work, and in the evenings, she would cook dinner, and we would eat, talk and make love, usually until about midnight.
With my days filled in this way, I did not miss Diane at all. And while I did feel the children’s absence, I knew they were safe. I had debated calling Diane, just to speak to the children, but reminding myself that it was her who had chosen to take them, I decided to leave it to her to make the call, confident that she eventually would.
However, when a call finally did come through, it was not from Diane, but her father.
“David! How are you?” his voice boomed over the line.
“I’m fine thank you, sir; hope you are too?”
“Actually, I’m not! Do you know where your wife and children are?”
“Uhm... yes... I believe they are at your home,” I stuttered, taken aback by his blunt question.
“That’s right, they are at my home, which is why I’m calling; I thought you had lost track of them; so, I was calling to let you know where to pick them up from - unless of course you have some reason for your family to be in my home; do you?”
“No.... no, I don’t sir, but with all due respect, I didn’t send them out of my house,” I tried to defend myself.
“I really don’t care why they are here; my concern is they are not where they are supposed to be, which is at your home; so, I suggest you come and pick up your family. Do I make myself clear?”
“Good, I’ll expect you tomorrow then; one o’clock would be good, so you can join us for lunch.”
“Yes, Sir,” I answered in resignation.
“Good; have a nice day,” he replied, his tone smug with satisfaction, before he hung up.
I groaned aloud as I too hung up and glanced at the time; it was almost time to pick up Julie, and she would not be happy with this news.
I knew something was wrong the minute David picked me up after work; his face was set in a grim line, and he did not quite meet my eyes when he greeted me.
“What do you mean?” he tried to sound like he did not know what I was talking about, but failed miserably.
“Come on, David, it’s obvious you’re upset; did something happen?”
He sighed, before answering: “Diane’s father called and told me to go pick her and the kids up tomorrow.”
For a few seconds, I did not know how to respond. Of course I had known Diane would eventually return; I just had not expected it to be so soon.
Over the past few days, I had immersed myself completely in taking care of David. Even though I went to work as well, I ensured that I cooked dinner everyday, did his laundry, and made love to him with wild abundance.
It was hard work, but I was happy to do it, and now Diane was coming back, and would most likely be taking back most of these roles.
“When will I see you again after you pick them up?” I eventually asked sadly.
“I’m not sure, but we’ll work it out. We’ve done this before, we’ll survive.” His tone was meant to be reassuring, but I didn’t feel in the least bit reassured.
We will survive, he had said, but what if I did not want us to just ‘survive’? What if I wanted us to thrive, the way we had during the past week? What then?
I sighed, but did not voice any of my questions.