Chapter 5

Chapter 5


Will hung his neatly ironed shirts in the wardrobe. There’s that job done. Time for a nice cup of tea.

Sunday mornings were for ironing the clothes he’d washed the day before. Over the past three years, routine had become an important part of Will’s life. Whereas before he’d moped around the flat and watched mindless television all weekend, now he made sure he kept up to date with the cleaning, dusting, vacuuming and laundry. The sense of achievement he felt each week never seemed to diminish. Having a clean and relatively sweet-smelling flat was also very welcome.

Back in the kitchen he filled the kettle and collapsed the ironing board. Part of his routine was that he would do the ironing before he had breakfast, so he popped a couple of slices of bread in the toaster and got the butter and marmalade out.

Last night had not really gone as he had planned. Probably not as Tina had planned, either. Had he overreacted? He still wasn’t sure, despite thinking about little else since he’d left the pub. The only good thing had been the kebab, which he had to admit was rather splendid. Thai would have to wait for another night. He wasn’t in any hurry.

Tea and toast in hand, he went through to the living room and sat in his armchair. His mobile was on the coffee table, switched off. He knew Sonia would be mad with him, but he couldn’t face her at the moment. He just wanted to enjoy his breakfast.

But it was hard, with the phone sitting there, staring at him. He tried hiding it under a magazine, but it was no use: the lump was still there, tormenting him. Should he hide it in a drawer? Put it in the kitchen? Basically, stick it anywhere it couldn’t be seen?

Or should he switch it on, and see if she had left a message? It would mean he could relax a bit, knowing how she had reacted. She might be really angry, but at least he could prepare himself, and decide whether he should respond today, or leave it until the morning.

Sod it. Let’s switch it on.

He picked up the phone, and pressed the power button.

God, life was so much easier before we got mobile phones welded to our bodies. Back then, I could have happily unplugged the phone from the wall, and spent the day in blissful ignorance. Now, everyone wants to be able to contact you at any time of day or night. I don’t have to turn it on. I could just wait until the morning and deal with her face to face. But then what if Jack or Sophie send me a text? They’ll expect a reply. I can’t ignore them.

Oh, bollocks. Three missed calls. All from Sonia. No texts though.

He called his voicemail.

“You have three new messages. First message, received yesterday at eleven forty four.”

“Hi. Just calling to see how your evening is going. I hope she hasn’t eaten you alive. Call me when you can. Bye.”

He hit ‘3’ to delete. Good, that’s the first one out of the way.

“Next message, received today at eight thirty one.”

There was a couple of seconds of muffled voices, and the message ended. He hit ‘3’ again.

“Next message. Received today at eight thirty three.”

“I guess you didn’t get my message last night. Is your phone switched off? I know it’s early, I just wanted to know how it went. Give me a call when you can. Bye.”

OK, so it seems she doesn’t know yet. Maybe Sonia hadn’t spoken with her sister yet. Or maybe Tina hadn’t said anything. She might have been embarrassed that the evening hadn’t gone well. Or possibly she’d hung around the pub and got chatted up by some other guy. Maybe it all worked out all right in the end.

Of course there is also the possibility that she realised she said the wrong thing, and is now filled with guilt. Somehow, though, I doubt that. She didn’t seem the type to feel that divorce might be a bad thing. Just the inevitable outcome of any marriage.

So, in the last three years you haven’t been on a single date, until last night. I think it’s fair to say that you still haven’t been on a single date. So what now? Another three years of nothing? You’ll be fifty soon, Will. Time’s not running out yet, but there’s less and less of it left each year.

What he really needed was a lunchtime beer. As he hadn’t spent anywhere near as much as he had planned last night, the thought of a couple of pints and a roast lunch seemed very inviting. The only problem was who to have it with.

Apart from Sonia, who he only really saw at work, his choice was limited to one: Andy.

Will knew that Andy and Abi had been out last night, so he may not be feeling up to a lunchtime drink. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

He dialled up Andy’s speed dial number. Voicemail. Bugger.

Never mind. He’d send a text.

‘Fancy a lunchtime beer?’ SEND

That’s that done. Hopefully he’ll reply soon. Just Sonia to deal with now.

He knew he should call soon and get it out of the way. She was already awake, so he wouldn’t be disturbing her. What was the worst that could happen? She’d tell him he was an idiot, and be angry with him all day. But at least if he called her now, she would have all day to calm down before Monday morning.

Probably best to call her now. Or it would have been, if he hadn’t had an incoming call – Andy.

“Morning, Andy. All right?”

“Oh, God. Keep your voice down, for Christ sake.”

“Ah, good night, was it?” Will spoke just a little louder, and made sure his voice bordered on the irritatingly perky.

“No, it was the worst. We argued all night, and I slept on the couch. Now I feel like shit.”

“Ah well, never mind. Fancy a lunchtime drink and a spot of roast beef?”

“Not if you’re going to be so fucking perky, no.”

It worked, then.

“OK. I promise I’ll be a miserable bastard, just like you. See you at The Lamb at 12.30.”

“Sure, why not. It can only be better than being here with moody knickers.”

Will put the phone down, relieved that he had someone to talk to today, even if it was a hung-over prick who seemed only to want to avoid Abi. Still, he could relate to that. There had been many times when he would have happily sat in a pub with his best friend, just so that he didn’t have to listen to her complain about one thing or another.

Then a thought struck him: what was he going to tell Andy about last night? That he ended the evening because he’d got upset at the thought of celebrating his divorce? That seemed to be saying that he was still in love with Andy’s partner. Which he was, but not in the same way as he had been. He knew he loved her; he wasn’t sure if he was still in love with her. But would Andy understand the difference?

No, probably not. So Will would just say they didn’t hit it off, and that would be that. Andy was unlikely to be very interested anyway. Lately, he’d only wanted to complain about his work, and how Abi was constantly on his back about things that just weren’t important.

I know that feeling.

The more he thought about it, the more he realised he shouldn’t have called Andy. But then what would he have done? Moped around the flat all day, like he used to, worrying about Sonia? No, he was doing the right thing. A good meal and a few beers, then a long afternoon nap – just like when he was young.

And a cigarette. God, he needed a smoke. Just one. He could stop again tomorrow.

Before he could change his mind, he’d put his shoes and jacket on, and was heading down the stairs to Mr Patel’s. Just a small packet of Golden Virginia. Then he could have the odd one every now and then, but not become a regular smoker again. He could do that. It wouldn’t be a problem.


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