Anatomy of the last evening

This is the moment when Cathy knows for sure there’s no going back. The moment when Paul walks out of the house after the last evening they will ever spend together, leaving her with nothing except the minute details etched on her memory whether she likes it or not.

This is the scene she will replay in her head until she can bear it no longer: Paul sitting in the kitchen as if he were a visitor. Cathy hovering, hating herself, hating him even more.

This is the spaghetti carbonara she cooked, congealing on the table, clotted yellow specked with black. Paul ate nothing. She assumed he was Meeting Someone later. Cathy was ravenous but didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing her in the throes of comfort eating.

This is the cheap bottle of Chianti Paul brought, more than half full still. Cathy knows him well enough to see it more as an insult than a gesture of friendship. She said she’d wait until later, thanks, even though she wasn’t Meeting Anyone, and she knew he knew it.

This is how much Paul had changed: she didn’t recognise any of his clothes. A leather jacket – I ask you, what a cliché – and a pair of designer jeans of the kind which are meant to slide down over the bottom. Cathy couldn’t remember what she’d put on, and didn’t dare look down to check.

This is what the room smelt of: exactly what it always had. There is no disguising smell: the lingering smell of family life.

This is what they looked at: Paul looked pointedly, steadfastly at her, as if to show he was capable of being steadfast when he wanted to be. Cathy looked over his left shoulder, mostly.

This is what they talked about: all the things on the list Paul had brought with him. All the things he didn’t think she needed to spend money on any more. None of the things Cathy wanted to talk about.

This is what she didn’t show him: a letter from their daughter saying she knew it would hurt her feelings but she’d rather live with Daddy. A cinema ticket she’d kept from three months ago, the last time they went together. A bottle of pills she didn’t want him to see.

Anatomy of the last evening

plemingcrow

Joined January 2008

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