Abi put the lid back on the lipstick and checked her face. That’ll do. She was now in her mid-forties, and while she tried to keep up her appearance like she used to, her enthusiasm was waning. What was the point? Andy never seemed to care what she looked like. He never noticed what she was wearing either. They were going out for a drink, and as far as she could make out, he wouldn’t have minded if she was wearing a hoodie and jeans.
As it was, she had chosen trousers and a top rather than a dress. They were only going to the pub with some friends, but she felt she should make a bit of an effort. Women have to. Men can get away with so much more. Or should that be less.
She made sure the bedroom door was shut, and took her dressing gown off to get dressed. When she had been with Will, she would have been perfectly happy wandering around naked all day. With Andy, she never felt comfortable, and she would only really let him see her naked on the odd occasion they had sex. Otherwise, she would at least have her knickers on, if not a bra.
She got dressed slowly; she wasn’t in any hurry. The friends they were going to see were lovely. They weren’t the problem; Andy was.
She’d welcomed his phone call the day Will had left. They’d been close since she had met Will, and had often talked through problems together. That had been an issue for Will, who had felt betrayed by both his wife and his best friend when the two of them discussed his own shortcomings, but she had explained to Will that Andy needed a woman to talk to. He had never had a girlfriend, and she was like a sister to him. On the day that she had told Will to leave, Andy had offered to come round to give her some company, and she had accepted gladly.
Five years on, she now knew why he had been on her doorstep so quickly. He had been waiting for that moment for nearly twenty years. He must have been climbing into his car while Will was still telling him what had happened.
Which didn’t necessarily mean that he had been desperate to get into her knickers. He might just as easily have felt he wanted to help one of his best friends in her hour of need. There again, that didn’t explain why he hadn’t offered to help his best friend in his hour of need.
No, she had been vulnerable, and he had seen an opportunity. She had been very grateful at the time, although not too grateful for the first few days; that had come a bit later, after they had shared a couple of bottles of wine and the evening had turned to sex talk. Andy had suggested a game of strip poker, and that was that.
Maybe that was why she still felt uncomfortable with him seeing her naked.
There was no hope of delaying it any longer. She picked up her handbag from the bed, checked her make up one last time, and went downstairs.
Andy was slumped in his armchair, watching Strictly Come Dancing. He looked up as she came in the room. “Ready?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she replied.
“Come on, then. Let’s get this over with.”
“Well, how do I look?”
“Nice. Lovely. Super.” They were all said without enthusiasm. Just stock answers, words that he said every time.
“Thanks. Good to know I’ve still got it,” Abi said sarcastically.
“You’re welcome. Come on, let’s get going. I need a drink. I’ll drive there, you can drive back. OK?”
“No, it’s not, but as that’s what we always do, why would I want to change things? So long as you get your alcohol down your neck, then that’s fine by you. I can’t remember the last time you drove home.”
“Two years ago, when we went out for dinner with your parents. It was one of the worst evenings of my life, having to sit listening to your dad telling me about his allotment with nothing more than a diet Coke to numb the pain.”
“Well, if you’re that sad that you can only enjoy yourself when you’re drunk, then I feel very sorry for you. Come on, you’re right; let’s get this over with. I don’t think I want to spend too much time with you this evening. And don’t worry about how much you drink. I’ll be quite happy for you to pass out, and then spend all day tomorrow feeling like shit.”
Abi turned and walked straight to the front door, went outside and got in the driver’s seat. Well, if she was going to drive home, she may as well drive there as well. Andy’s driving was too fast for her, and she had never felt comfortable being his passenger.
Before, Will had always driven. It was an unwritten rule, especially after the children had been born. The only times he had been a passenger was if he had been feeling ill. Will didn’t drink very much, so if they did go out, which wasn’t very often, he would always drive. And that was fine by her.
Sitting in the car waiting for Andy, she thought again about Will. Tonight he was going on a date, the first one since they had split up. Her emotions were all over the place. Pleased for Will, as she wanted him to be happy. Sad to think that she would no longer be his only girlfriend. Anxious that it would go well, with just a hint of hope that it wouldn’t. She knew it was wrong to feel that way, but just a tiny part of her liked knowing that she was the only woman he had ever loved, and had sex with. She didn’t want him back, but she did like the feeling of being special. That was something Andy had never been able to achieve.
“What are you doing? I said I’d drive,” Andy said as he sat in the passenger seat.
“Well, I’ve decided I’m going to drive both ways. I thought you’d be pleased.”
“Sure. Whatever. Just don’t drive too slowly, that’s all.”
Abi didn’t say anything, she just put the car in gear and drove in silence to the pub.
For a fleeting moment, as she walked through the door to meet their friends, she wished it was her that Will was taking out to dinner tonight.
* * *
Abi lay in bed watching TV – alone. She had left Andy downstairs, slumped in front of the TV, snoring loudly. She’d rather leave him where he could do his snoring, farting and all the irritating things he did when he had been drinking and she hadn’t.
She had actually enjoyed the evening, even if Andy had got drunk, and had spent the journey home talking about, and the ten minutes he had stayed awake once they got there trying, to get into her knickers. She knew he would give up eventually, and even if she had agreed, the chances of him being able to perform were remote. She was actually surprised, and somewhat relieved that he wasn’t currently naked from the waist down. For some reason, he hadn’t got that far.
So she had come up to bed, with a cup of tea and the hopes of an uninterrupted night’s sleep. It was 12.45, and she really should have been asleep by now, but her mind wouldn’t let her. She couldn’t stop wondering about Will.
And she really couldn’t figure out why.
It was pathetic, to be honest. He was a spineless wimp, who had done nothing to try and win her back, instead accepting her decision to throw him out without a word. He had just picked up the bag she had packed for him, and left. Of course, if he had put up a fight, she would have still told him to leave, because on that day she’d had enough. But as the years had gone by, and he had made a real effort to get his life in order, she began to wonder if it had been the right thing to do.
The answer was yes: she knew that. If they had carried on the way they were, her life would have been hell, and his would have continued in the same lethargic way, with no point and no purpose.
No, there was no doubt she had made the right decision. So why was she lying here, worrying about her ex-husband, while her current boyfriend was comatose downstairs? OK, Andy would have been downstairs anyway. There was no way he was going to sleep in the same bed as her when he was so drunk. The smell alone was enough to wake the dead.
But Will on the other hand.
She had been thinking about him more and more lately, as she had slowly come to the conclusion that Andy was becoming a bigger waste of space than his former best friend.
Divorce. Their marriage would be over sometime soon. All the happy years at the start wasted, except for the production of two children. Two children who still didn’t know their parents were going through the divorce process. Quite when they were going to tell them she wasn’t sure, but she hoped Will would be there with her when they found out. She really needed his support. God knew, Andy wouldn’t be interested.
Now it really was time for sleep. She threw all but one of her pillows on the floor, put the TV on standby, and turned out the light. As she lay in the dark, trying to get to sleep, she couldn’t help wondering how Will’s evening had gone. For his sake, she hoped it had gone well. For her own, she wasn’t so sure.