September 22nd 2017
She hummed to herself, no tune in particular as she drizzled some syrup in the pan. She made sure it was evenly spread while still thick in texture, just how he liked it.
A small pot of chocolate sauce sat on the kitchen island behind, just waiting for the pancakes to be done. She had made chocolate instead of the strawberry that she preferred because he liked the sweetness of the chocolate with his pancakes. She wasn’t a huge fan of chocolate, so she would just opt out for some fresh fruit instead.
She didn’t mind though. Not if it brought a smile to his face, a light to his eye and filled his hungry stomach. She didn’t mind making these little sacrifices for him if it meant that he was happy. She didn’t mind because she loved him, unconditionally.
She wouldn’t have ever married him if she didn’t love him. But she did.
Even when times were tough and the future looked bleak and dull, she still stuck with him; because he was her world, because she couldn’t function without him in her life. She would never give up on him because she loved him.
The tick of the oven timer sounded just as the latch on the front door clicked. Just on time, she smiled to herself softly.
This had been his routine for the past year; stay out all night and return early in the morning so that he could take a quick shower, get changed and then grab some breakfast before he headed out to work.
She didn’t see much of her husband because he was a busy man; his time was either occupied with his job -him being a banker kept him both busy and tired- or his lover. Not his wife, his lover.
“Good morning,” she called out to him from the kitchen as she pulled the blueberry muffins out of the oven. As usual, he didn’t reply to her voice, just grunting in reply hoping that she would not bother him further.
As usual, she didn’t comment on his rude behaviour and horrible attitude towards her. It didn’t bother her that he treated her this way, she was just happy to see his face every day, happy to be able to call herself his wife and be able to love him freely. Even if she did have to share him with a mystery woman.
She presumed that her husband believed she didn’t know anything about her affair, but she wasn’t stupid, and him of all people should have known that. All the tell-tale signs of an affair were their; him starting to only come home in the early hours of the morning, the sweet scent of the perfume that seemed to always linger on his clothes, a perfume that she did not own, the smudges of lipstick down his neck which he believed that she wouldn’t be able to see from under the collar of his untidy work shirt from the previous day.
And finally, there were the text messages and the many phone calls which he made to a lady called ‘Jane’, a lady whom he had professed his love to many a time, even when he was home with his wife standing under the same roof as he. He didn’t realise that the wall between their separate bedrooms were incredibly thin, meaning that she was able to hear pretty much everything that he said or did in his room; and that included the late-night phone calls that he had with his ‘Jane’ whenever he did decide to sleep in his own bed that night. Now, if he was quiet and spoke to his lover in hushed tones -the same hushed and quiet tones that she would use whenever she would cry herself to sleep every night- she probably wouldn’t have been able to hear him, but it seemed that he simply didn’t care if his wife overheard him.
She didn’t comment on a lot of things that her husband, and there were many more things which she didn’t mind and was willing to overlook, but this was something that had bothered her from day one.
She remained silent in the kitchen as she washed away all the utensils that she had used to make breakfast. No words slipped past her lips as she sat down at the counter on her designated bar stool, patiently awaiting her husband so that they could have breakfast together.
That was still their thing.
It was sad really, pitiful even that she always looked forward to having breakfast with him even though it was evident to her that he had just come home after spending the night making passionate love to his lover. Despite him not saying anything to her other insults or harsh words, she still looked forward to it.
This was the one time of the day where she would be able to sit down, have a meal and look at him. Really look at him. She would always watch the way he ate, and the manner in which he conducted himself. Her eyes always followed his movements, subtly watching if he was eating enough, if he was taking all the vitamins and nutrients that he needed.
She could tell when he was hung over, or when he needed some Advil or Paracetamol for the head ache he was carrying.
She missed her husband terribly, the way that he used to look at her with love in his eyes. The way that he used to hold her and caress her face before he leaned in for a kiss. She craved for her husband’s affection, but she knew that she wouldn’t be getting any of it any time soon. It had been more than a year since her husband had said something remotely polite to her, so there was no chance that he would wrap her arms around her and give her a warm hug.
She had tried many times, especially at first when she started noticing that he was pulling away from her. But he had always pushed away, or made some excuse about being busy with work or something of the sort. A year on and she had given up hope of her husband ever loving her again.
Now, she was just content to be around him, even if he didn’t want her there.
“I made breakfast,” she informed him as he walked into the kitchen already dressed in his work attire.
She pursed her lips, though smiled at him -even though it was tight around the edges- and poured him a mug of coffee.
Black, just how she liked it.
Sneakily watching him eat his muffin while he tapped away on his phone from under her lashes, she couldn’t help but wonder if his lover knew what he liked. She couldn’t help but wonder if they ate dinner together every night like two...lovers. Her mind drifted off as she thought to herself, thinking about the times when her husband would cook for her on the weekend, even going as far as to feed her himself when she was ill.
She was brought harshly out of her reverie when Ryan closed the front door, not being gentle about it.
After taking a few seconds to realise that she was back in reality, she quickly jumped off her bar stool and rushed out of the house, making sure to grab the keys in case the door closed behind her.
“Ryan!” She called out to him as he was about to get into his car.
Huffing, her groaned to himself before he turned around to scowl at her, his briefcase already sitting on the passenger seat of his expensive Mercedes. “What do you want now, Audrey?” He barked at her, his lips pulled down in a ferocious scowl as he sent a hateful glare her way before he looked away, staring off into the distance as he -quite impatiently- waited for her say what she had come to say.
She couldn’t deny it, it hurt. A damn lot too.
It pained her -both physically and emotionally- to know that her husband hated her, that he couldn’t even stand the sight of her. But she couldn’t blame him, not really. Even though she wanted to, she couldn’t blame him.
“We’re supposed to be having dinner with your parents tonight.” She told him, her voice quiet and meek as she kept her eyes trained on the collar of his shirt instead of on his face. Sometimes, like now, it hurt too much to look at him, to know that he was so close, almost in touching distance yet she couldn’t just reach out and feel the hard planes of his face or the sharp cut of his jaw.
She yearned to be loved, but he had made it clear with his actions on many occasions that she wouldn’t be getting any of that from him.
When he made no sound to suggest that he had even heard her, her eyes trailed up to his face only to be met with yet another scowl. He was always scowling when she looked at him. He was always scowling when he was at home with her and not his supposed exotic lover. He was always when he was around her. His scowl always deepened whenever she tried to make conversation with him.
He was always scowling around her. Period.
She clearly had that effect on him.
She pursed her lips and stared at him, not feeling very comfortable with the way he was clenching his jaw, and glaring daggers over her head. She knew that he would never hit her, but she also knew that he absolutely detested the sight of her. “They called up last week and made plans with us. Remember?” She reminded him, her voice timid and quiet as she gently reminded him, not wanting to spark his anger; especially not before they both had to head out for work.
“I’m busy.” He stated simply. Turning around, he didn’t once glance over his shoulder as he opened the door to his car and got in, but she quickly moved over so that she was blocking the door, preventing him from slamming it shut and driving away; most likely what he had planned to do.
But she wasn’t sure. She was never sure about him anymore.
“I know, but we’ve already said we’ll go.” She reasoned with him, silently hoping that he would just give up and agree.
“I have other plans. Go without me.” He demanded, waiting for her to move so that he could start the car and leave for work.
She closed her eyes and sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration. “I can’t.” Her voice was a plea, begging for him to make things easy for her for once.
“I forgot,” he laughed bitterly. “You can’t do anything right, can you?” He sneered at her, making sure that he maintained eye contact as he spoke so that she would feel every harsh and painful jab that he was taking at her.
She pursed her lips, willing herself not to cry. He just shouted at her more when she cried. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”
“You should be more clear.”
“You know I can’t go to your parents for dinner alone, they would ask questions.” She looked up at him, a frown playing on her lips. “What would I say to them?”
He raised a quizzical eyebrow at that, a teasing smile on his lips. But it wasn’t playful. “How about the truth?” He offered, not expecting a response from her.
They both knew that they couldn’t tell his parents the truth, not now. Not just yet. Especially not since the couple had been putting on this show for every big family occasion and monthly get-togethers for more than a year now. His parents had no idea that things were so messy and rocky between their son and daughter-in-law. And he couldn’t tell them because he knew they loved Audrey like a daughter, even though he couldn’t stand the sight of her, let alone be in her presence.
When she didn’t answer, he sighed loudly and got out from the car, forcing her to take a few steps back to make space for him. “I’ll pick you up by 7. Be ready or I’m going to leave without you.” He snarled at her one last time before he got back in his car and slammed the door shut, starting the engine and driving away as fast as he could.
Driving away from her.
She didn’t call him or send him a text to tell him that 7 would be too late, that everybody would be waiting for them. She didn’t confront him when she had first found out about his affair. She didn’t confide in him when she had fallen down the stairs and had to spend the night in hospital after having given her 8 stitches just below her hairline.
She had stopped telling him things, regardless of how big or small the situation was, because there was no longer any point.
He didn’t care about her, not anymore, and it was about time that she got used to the idea of it.