I sat on the couch - arms folded, legs crossed – and waited. Tick…tock…tick…tock. The noise of the clock sounded loud in the deathly silent room, every ‘tick tock’ a reminder that he was still not home. I remembered the many times I would watch mum waiting for dad to come home from one of his ‘outings’. ‘I’m just nipping to the shop love’ he would say, and then four hours later turn up stinking of bitter.
‘Another long queue at the shop, eh Bernard?’ mum would say through clenched teeth.
When I heard the familiar sound of Clive’s BMW on the drive, I perched up in my seat like a meerkat. I could hear him whistling the tune to ‘Hi-Ho’ from the seven dwarfs, which I only ever recall him doing after we had had sex for the second time in a month. ‘Bloody happy are we?’ I muttered to myself, my blood reaching boiling point.
‘Where were you last night?’ I asked him before he had had a chance to come through the door. He was wearing that ridiculous bright green jumper that I hated, the arms clearly too short for his gangly arms.
He looked at me nonchalant, his attitude calm and aloof. He didn’t seem to notice the bulging purple vein on my forehead, which had last made an appearance when he had shrunk my favorite pair of jeans, the only pair that didn’t make me look like I had a bum the size of J-Lo’s. The magic bum jeans I had liked to call them.
‘Oh stop over reacting,’ he had said, ‘we can get you a new pair in town tomorrow’.
I had stared at him in disbelief. ‘Clive, these are magic jeans!’ I had screamed, holding them up in his face like a woman possessed, ‘so unless you know where I can find the little bum fairies that made them, then I am buggered!’
‘Hi love,’ he said as he walked over to where I was sitting and kissed my forehead. ‘I was working late remember?’ Ah the old working late line, code for ‘I was sleeping with someone else’.
Just at that moment, he noticed the laptop on the table beside me. It was open at a facebook page, the face of a young pretty blonde smiling back at us with her perfect white teeth. The blood drained out of his face. He looked at me, then at the screen, then back to me, then the vein, then back to me.
My suspicions had become aroused about a month ago, when I got a call from my friend Trudie, who was convinced she had seen Clive having ‘a frapuccino with a young blonde in Starbucks’ whilst out shopping in town.
‘No that couldn’t have been Clive,’ I’d said, no doubt in my mind, ‘he hates those places, says they’re for poncy students who have nothing better to do than sit round in their poncy scarves talking about poncy things’.
‘It was definitely him,’ Trudie had said, ‘I could spot that shiny bald head anywhere’.
‘There’s more than one man in Liverpool with a bald head Trude’
There was a pause.
‘Hmmm actually I did only see him from the back,’ Trudie said finally, ‘I suppose it could have been baldy Bob who works in the butchers next door’.
‘Right that’s cleared up then, so tell me what lovely things you bought in town’.
Although I felt convinced that it was not my Clive that Trudie had seen, that didn’t stop the little devil on my shoulder convincing me that something wasn’t right. ‘You manage to get out the office at all today dear?’ I asked him subtly when he came home from work that day, watching for any hint of hesitation.
‘I bloody wish, absolute fucker of a day it was, the systems crashed and I was on the phone to IT for half the day and…..’
As I watched him continue his rant, his cheeks flushed, his glasses clumsily falling down his nose, I realized how stupid I had been to doubt him. There was no way my Clive, with his adorable baldy head and terrible choice of clothes, would betray me, would he?
A month passed and frapuccino-gate had long been forgotten. I was collecting Clive’s dirty clothes from the floor next to our bed - it seems that putting his dirty clothes in the washing basket which is two steps away from the bed is just too much of a challenge for Clive. Checking the pockets of his trousers, I came across a small crumpled up piece of paper and as I opened it my heart sank into my chest. It was a receipt for two frapuccinos at Starbucks. I threw it onto the floor like it was a hot piece of coal and rested my weak legs on the edge of the bed.
Trudie had been right, it was my Clive canoodling with another woman in an establishment which he claimed to hate. I wrecked my brain trying to think of any reason, anything I had done, that might have drawn him towards the arms of someone else, but the only thing I could think of was my legs, which had not seen a razor in months.
I noticed the laptop on the bedside table, its shiny cover like a beacon saying ‘open me, open me’. Not wanting to disappoint it, I lifted up the screen and logged into Clive’s facebook. I clicked on his messages and there it was, a string of messages from a young, pretty blonde, actual name Laura. God she was lovely, with her lovely long hair and pretty blue eyes and perfect white teeth. She could have easily just stepped out of a L’Oreal advert.
One message caught my eye, striking right through my heart like a sharp knife ‘Lovely to see you again, I’m glad you enjoyed your frapuccino’.
After Clive had seen the facebook page, we both sat in silence for a few minutes as I waited for him to explain. Finally, after two long unbearable minutes, he turned to me ‘there’s something I need to tell you’.
I took in a large deep breath, preparing myself for what was coming next.
‘I, I –‘.
‘Oh spit it out Clive for God’s sake’.
‘I have a daughter’.