by Helen Chambers
“Make a choice. Me or her.” So he left me, the bastard.
I couldn’t stand up straight for days, I was winded. Pains in my chest, my lungs wouldn’t work.
The next weekend he turned up with snapped stems in a plastic wrap for me, said it was all they had. I was sore: red-eyed and sleepless, but he looked fresh as a daisy. He watched while I tried to arrange them into something pretty, and he smiled, but he was all twitchy. He couldn’t sit still. I followed him outside and leaned against the tree trunk while he carefully cut each and every bloom in the garden, all my summer bulbs, not a thing left behind. He asked for ribbon and tissue paper and made them up into a massive bouquet. I laughed, thinking it was mine.
He told me we could be the best of friends but took it to her. The stench of my hatred overwhelmed me and I changed the locks.
A year later, he phoned me. Said he was lonely and missed me. I didn’t say, but I missed him too. We met for coffee, but when he said, ’I usually sit over there,’ I knew it was with her.
In the winter he tried again. We sipped the liquid warmth of mulled wine. Outside it snowed, and he slid his arm round my shoulders, fluid and smooth. ‘Stay,’ I murmured.