Story corner

Mike's finger hovered over the doorbell before he finally made a stab at it and heard its ring echo through the hallway of the large Victorian house. Sally answered the door and, without a word, just a slight incline of the head, motioned him through the bright, sun-coloured hallway into the lounge. A sexy butterfly tattoo peeped out at him through the gap between her jeans and cropped tee-shirt. That was new.
“Coffee?” she asked.
“No thanks, I’ve just had one.”
Sally sat down, but not in her usual place on the squashy brown leather sofa which bore the scars from the buckles on Emily’s little shoes. Instead she chose the armchair by the bay-window and Mike couldn’t help but notice how the light danced through her auburn curls. He sat down in the chair across the low glass coffee table from his wife. A magazine lying on the table caught his eye and he picked it up, ‘Gadgets for Guys’. He scowled and tossed it back onto the table.
Sally glanced at her watch. “Mike, please say what you’ve got to say and then go. I’ve got to pick Emily up from nursery in thirty minutes.”
Mike’s mouth went dry. He shouldn’t have lied about the coffee, and his rehearsed speech went straight out the window.
“I..... I want to see more of Emily.”
Sally gave an over-exaggerated sigh.“Not that old chestnut again. You could have told me that on the phone.... and you already know the answer to that, Mike.”
He should have chosen the sofa. The sun was shining right into his eyes, forcing him to squint back at her. He shifted around in his seat.
“One hour a month just isn’t enough. At her age she hardly remembers me between visits, she’s bored with the park, but we don’t have long enough to go anywhere else.”
“You’re lucky I’m allowing you to see her at all, now please leave before I change my mind.” Sally’s brown eyes locked onto Mike’s as she rose from her chair.
He picked up the magazine and waved it at Sally.”He gets to live in my house with my wife and my daughter and I get to see her for one hour a fucking month.” He threw the magazine into the chair he had just vacated.
“Your soon to be ex-wife and Justin is Emily’s father,” she walked over to him, “look, I know it’s hard for you to accept, and I’m sorry how things have worked out, but I’d been sleeping with Justin for years. You just have to accept the fact that you can’t father a child Mike. We’ve always known Emily wasn’t yours.”
Mike rooted around in his jeans pocket, retrieved an envelope and thrust it towards his soon to be ex-wife.
“Last week Kathy, my girlfriend, told me she was three months pregnant.” Sally shook her head in disbelief. “We both couldn’t believe it either, so I went for some tests and guess what? I can have children. They said that the tests I had years ago must have just have been a blip. I know that Emily is my daughter and I’m going to prove it.”
“That,” he said, motioning towards the envelope in Sally’s hand, “is an appointment with a genetic testing clinic. See you there tomorrow at 3pm.”
Sally read the letter, looked up at Mike, and re-read it. For once she had nothing to say.
Mike sat in his car and wiped the sweat that had gathered on his top lip. Of course, it was possible that Emily wasn’t his but he didn’t believe that, there was too strong a bond between them. The next few days would be long and difficult but he felt sure the end result would be worth it.

Chris Garland

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