This is a parallel story to the one I wrote yesterday – Sea Foam in Skye.
See here: https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/sea-foam-in-skye-a-short-story-of-pain-and-sorrow/
Sandra decided to have a long soak in the bath. She needed to unwind; it was all getting too stressful. As she got into the hot bath, the smell of lavender wafted from the bath salts and the bath foam. Her mind kept going over and over her current situation. She thought of her soon to be ex-husband Michael. She’d had a letter that day from her Solicitors. Michael wasn’t responding to their letters. She had worried he might try to disrupt the divorce proceedings.
She looked back on their marriage of seven years, and before that to when they’d first met.
She’d met him at Edinburgh University. She was a fresher and he was in the year above. He’d been so cute then. He was 6-foot-tall with black hair that flopped over his forehead and piercing blue eyes. He had been manning the walking club’s stall for fresher’s fair, when all the clubs and societies vied to get new members from among the new students. She had had no interest in walking whatsoever but signed up there and then, just because of him. He had been like that then. His natural enthusiasm was so strong that it swept you along, often into doing things that you didn’t want to do. Like walking. They’d started dating from the off. They were both studying medicine, he was studying to become a physiotherapist and she, a pharmacist. They’d got married just after her graduation and they’d gone to Skye for their honeymoon. She should have said that she wasn’t keen on walking. She’d rather go somewhere really hot and sit next to a pool and drink cocktails. That was the difference between him and Sean, her boyfriend. Michael had taken her to a coral beach on Skye that looked like one you’d see on a Caribbean Island. Sean had actually taken her and the kids to a Caribbean Island for two weeks last Summer. It had been bliss.
Her and Michael had started drifting apart after her first son, Angus, was born. Michael would go off walking on his own, which she didn’t mind at first. Then he’d go upstairs to his man cave and play x-box for hours on end. Gradually things had gotten worse and she began to feel alone. She had hoped that having her second child would be the thing that brought them together again, but even during the pregnancy it was like he just didn’t care anymore. Then she’d had postnatal depression and where was Michael when she needed him most? He’d gone on a walking trip with a couple of his mates from Uni.
Not long after that she had joined a gym to get rid of her baby bulge. Her therapist said the exercise would help with the depression too. It did do wonders for her depression because it was there she’d met Sean. He was the fitness instructor. She’d gone for a mixed class rather than women only. As soon as their eyes met she could sense the mutual attraction. Sean was very beefy, had curly blond hair and was in his mid to late twenties. She could tell he liked her because he spent more time with her than the rest of the group. Even the two nineteen-year-old girls she’d have thought he would have preferred. After the session he asked her out. For some reason she’d forgotten to tell him she was married. After all what harm could a little drink do?
He was a little taken aback when she told him about her Husband and two sons, but he told her he loved her, and ‘love would find a way’, he’d said.
Michael, by that stage, was barely talking to her. He’d put on his smile in the mornings and go off to work in the physiotherapy unit. She’d only found out much later that he hadn’t been going to work. He’d been walking up Arthur’s Seat, the hill that overlooked Edinburgh. Eventually he’d lost his job because of it.
When she’d told Michael about Sean and told him she wanted a divorce he barely said a word. He’d looked at her with cold and indifferent eyes. Or at least that is what they’d seemed.
Going over everything in her head she’d realised that she had been too harsh on Michael. She had demanded sole custody of the children and that had upset him a lot. At their last meeting with the solicitors he had broken down and cried. She’d never seen him like that before. She realised that part of what was making her feel so stressed was the feelings of guilt from having an affair. She’d been making things far harder than they needed to be. She resolved that tomorrow she was going to go around to the flat Michael was renting and tell him she was sorry and she’d agree to joint custody.
Feeling slightly better she got out of the bath and dried herself off.
Her two boys were fast asleep in their room. Angus in the top bunk looked so much like his father. His little brother, Connor, just turned three was sound asleep in the bottom bunk. He took more after her side of the family.
She could hear Sean snoring away in her bedroom but he woke up when she entered.
“What’s up babe? I thought you were never coming to bed?” Sean said yawning.
“I was just feeling a bit tense, so I had a bath. I was thinking about Michael.”
“Not thinking of a reconciliation, are you? You do still love me, don’t you?”
“Of course, silly. I love you very much. I realised long ago that Michael and I were not compatible, but still I don’t think I have been fair to him. He wasn’t a bad husband or father. He didn’t hit me or anything.”
“Neglect is a form of abuse though, Love.”
“Yes, but I don’t think he’d meant it that way. I am going to go around there in the morning and tell him I am not contesting joint custody. I don’t want to fight any more.”
Sean turned over in bed and the covers fell away. He never did sleep with anything on in bed. Sean kissed the remainder of her concerns away and she fell asleep in his arms.
She woke up early, as usual. She heard her phone next to the bed chime to say she’d received a text. Who would be texting her at six in the morning?
She looked at the phone, Michael had sent her a message, it just said one word. Sorry.
She started to panic. Quickly she got dressed and left for Michaels flat.
As she got there, the Landlady met her at the door.
“Morning Mrs Atherton, you have just missed your husband. He’s just paid me for the rent he had owing and driven off.”
“Can you let me into his flat please Mrs Campbell I need to leave him a note.”
When she entered the room, she found the note she had half expected sitting on the table next to an old video cassette.
I am so sorry for everything. I can fight this no longer. I have left this video to explain everything to our boys, please show it to them when you think they are old enough. I have gone to a place where we were happy once. You won’t hear from me again.
She knew where he’d gone, that little stretch of beach on the Isle of Skye that they had gone to on their honeymoon. They had made love there, out in the open, so exciting. The memory made her blush.
Quickly she telephoned the police and then the Samaritans. Then she phoned Sean to tell him what had happened. He said he’d look after the kids until she got home, not to worry about anything.
She got in the police car with Lucy the Samaritan and they sat in silence as they drove across the highlands. The roads were so narrow it was difficult to go very fast. She kept thinking, come on faster, faster, it might be too late. What if we don’t get there in time?
After a couple of hours, the car pulled up. She saw Michaels car parked in front.
“Quickly, follow me, I know where he’d have gone.”
They pushed through the bushes and she called out his name.
Then she saw him standing naked on the beach. She’d never seen him look so desolate.
“Thank God you’re still here. I was so frightened we’d be too late. I knew you’d come here, as soon as I read the note. I had gone to see you to tell you I don’t want to fight anymore, that I’ll agree joint custody.”
Michael collapsed crying at her feet. She felt so ashamed that here was a man who had loved her and she’d driven him to this. She didn’t love him but she cared for him; he was the father of her children. She vowed she would do more to help him in future.
“I’ve brought help with me Michael, you will need help to get better again. I promise I won’t make this any more difficult than it needs to be in future. It will be easier from now on.”
At least, she hoped it would be.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 12/April/2018
via Daily Prompt: Disrupt