It wasn’t about anything he did. How he had to have his ties organised in their own special drawer, coiled up like sleeping snakes in a gradient of colour. How he had to have an opinion on anything and everything. How he became obsessed with pomegranates, the most pointless of all fruits. Surely the amount of energy spent extracting the seeds negated the amount gained in consuming them, I’d say to him as he gobbled them one by one in front of the TV, red juice staining his fingertips.
It wasn’t about the other women. Not Lisa in the Leeds office with the laugh like an explosive opera singer, or the physio he went to for his sciatica, or even the woman in the newsagents. I’d wonder how he could be gone so long – an hour every Sunday morning to pick up the papers. I’d ask if he’d fallen into a ditch, or stopped to help out an old lady with her shopping? He would laugh, say he just liked to talk, and he did, but no amount of talking could help us.
And it was never about the money. He’d leave piles of loose change around the place like he was sloughing off scales. The coins would find their way into the rubber seal of the washing machine, down the cracks of the sofa, every place they weren’t supposed to be. Sometimes we’d have money for things, and other times we wouldn’t. He’d never tell me how much it all cost, and I didn’t want to know. I just wanted it to all work out.
It wasn’t even about his drinking. We both drank at first. It helped us to forget what could have been, pretend we were having fun, that we preferred it this way. I kept a two litre Smirnoff bottle he’d brought back from duty free in the days when he travelled on business. I used it to collect all the spare change; a fund for a trip to Disneyland with our children. After ten years, the bottle was full and he didn’t drink Smirnoff; cheaper varieties of vodka were available. We both knew the Disney trip was never going to happen. He’d scrabble around for change in my pockets. I hid the bottle at the back of the wardrobe.
If it was about anything, it was about absence; of something, someone, gender unspecified. They say these things can’t always be explained, that medicine doesn’t have all the answers. Keep trying they said, and so we did, until we couldn’t face it anymore, and there was nothing left to stay for.
I counted up the change in the bottle. Two hundred and sixteen pounds, forty-two pence. I left his half in a plastic bag with a note and a pomegranate, hoping he wouldn’t feel bitter.
Rebecca Field lives and writes in Derbyshire. She has been published online by Riggwelter Press, Spelk fiction, The Cabinet of Heed and Ellipsis Zine among others. Rebecca has work in the 2018 and 2019 UK National Flash Fiction Day Anthologies and forthcoming in the 2020 edition. Tweets at @RebeccaFwrites.