As I closed the door behind me and walked up the unlit hall I sensed her in the bedroom. I spoke no words of greeting and received none. I put my keys down on the coffee table in the lounge and headed for the kitchen. The cats food bowl was empty and the light on the extractor fan above the hob that I had forgotten to switch off in the morning was still glowing. I switched it off and turned on the main kitchen light over the sink. The water from the tap sprayed over my hand as I filled the kettle with enough water for one cup. I tossed a tea bag into a mug and reached over to the fridge for the milk.
While I was waiting for the kettle to boil I switched the TV on and flicked to channel four for the news. Another scandal involving the prime minister and the media filled the screen. The kettle finished boiling and I walked back past the breakfast bar to my mug. Water in, I let it steep for a minute then squeezed the bag twice with a teaspoon. I flung the squashed tea bag into the bin. The milk, as always, went in last.
As I sat down on the sofa in front of the TV my thoughts turned to the bedroom. I would at some point have to go in there. My heart pounded in my chest and the usual knot of guilt made it’s presence felt in my stomach. We started two years ago. On a dark wintry day in London I had taken the day off the work and walked to the local park. It had just begun to rain when she came to me.
It had started off well, so exciting and interesting. And new. At work I thought about her all day and couldn’t wait to come home to her. I would dream about her every time I slept. I guess the beginnings are always the best.
I first started to have doubts about five months in. I began to think about her less. I would find reasons to not come straight home. A pint after work. Slow, leisurely shops around the supermarket. I had even stopped dreaming about her.
Eventually, I don’t remember exactly when, I began to think about moving on. I felt numb and passionless. My life had become boring and mundane. All of the initial spark had left. The guilt I felt when I thought about leaving her was tremendous. It felt like such a waste. All of that love and energy for nothing. I couldn’t leave her.
My eyes and thoughts began to wander. I started to look elsewhere. I wanted that buzz of the beginning. A new start. I wanted to feel passion again. To feel alive. She came to me on the bus on the way back from the cinema. I had gone alone to watch a documentary. A documentary about a chimp being brought up like a human.
She was amazing. Suddenly I felt alive again. I hadn’t felt this for so long. She was different from her. She was unpredictable, spontaneous, passionate. So passionate. But no sooner had we begun than it was over. I felt good about it though. My confidence was soaring. It was brief but powerful. Of course I felt guilt but that lessened with every new affair. And there were many. I just couldn’t give her up.
I picked up my mug of tea, switched off the television and walked towards the bedroom. The handle felt cold to my touch as I opened the door. I switched on the light on my desk and pressed the power button on my laptop. As it whirred into life I was debating whether I was in the mood. I hadn’t looked at her in a while.
I opened her up and skipped through to chapter eight. This was as far as I had got. Two years to write eight chapters. If it had not been for all the short stories I would have undoubtedly already finished her.