The words kept battering at the back of her teeth looking to escape. Standing in the middle of the front room wanting to shout out loud, “I’ve had enough, I can’t do this anymore.” His lackluster lackadaisical attitude toward their married life together drove her to distraction. She no longer wanted this idle, indolent life her husband desired. She turned and left the room, leaving Frank standing alone digesting her earth shattering news, which for him had torn his world asunder. Now what was he supposed to do? Very quickly he realized he would have nothing but his pension. And the idea of living alone in a one bedroom flat terrified him. Mute, he stood there gazing out of the front room window, unsure what to feel or what to do next.
Frank was stumped. Surely, she didn’t mean it! Frank had not been able to believe his luck when she had agreed to marry him back in nineteen fifty-nine. They had met at the local dance hall the year before. Her flame red hair had set her apart from the other lasses and he’d had to pinch himself when she agreed to step out with him. But that was many moons ago.
The last fourteen months had been the unhappiest months of her life. Well, if she was honest, she had not been happy when he had retired. That was almost seven years ago. She did not appreciate having him home all day, every day, under her feet and in her way. He cramped her lifestyle. But if she was really truly honest she had not been happy being married to a Frank since nineteen seventy four. Not since the debacle of his most inappropriate birthday gift to her. He had bought her a steam iron. He knew she hated ironing. She had been heart broken that this was all he could think of getting her after fifteen years of marriage; she got an electrical appliance for a task that she abhorred. Ironing was the devil’s invention in her considered opinion and she had avoided it at any cost preferring to fold freshly laundered garments neatly and hold them flat with a heavy object, letting gravity do the majority of the pressing.
Every little thing he did irritated Lydia.
On their first day home together of Frank’s retirement, she has seriously asked him, “Does this mean I have to make your lunch each day?”
Without thinking, he flippantly responded, “Expect so!”
“But why,” she retorted brazenly, “you have been perfectly able to feed yourself whilst you’ve been at work. So what’s changed?”
Frank looked disbelievingly at his wife; he knew she had a point, but he was going to ignore it.
“Are you suggesting it’s my job to look after you now you’re home?” she retaliated.
It had been the clearest signal that all was not well between the newly retired couple but Frank adopted his usual relaxed attitude that the least said the soonest mended and ignored the topic.
Bickering endlessly had become part of their daily routine. Frank actually believed that all married couples argued. If he moved the salt and pepper pot and did not put them back exactly where he had found them, it would spark a row between them. He thought nothing of it, having a row; he simply dismissed it. It was of no consequence to him. He believed if he forgot about it, it no longer existed.
Today, he was beginning to realize that maybe Lydia had a different view of their married life together and that she had reached the end of her tether. He wasn’t sure where exactly he had gone wrong. Or even if it was his fault. He had imagined spending the rest of his days pottering in his potting shed; fixing things out in the yard. He loved tinkering with old engines and had aspirations to fix the old banger buried, hidden in the barn. It was what he had done up until now.
Researching the Internet Lydia had found that getting a divorce could be done online; quite simply, with no need to attend court. She wanted a decree nisi, with as little fuss as possible. She was certain the judge would grant her divorce on the grounds of an irretrievable break down. They had absolutely nothing in common, not anymore.
Time was short. Accepting that she wasn’t getting any younger, she wanted to feel the frisson of sexual interaction, something that Frank and she had not participated in for many years. Acting now, fleeing this marital home gave her the chance to find out if she was brave enough to take on a new relationship, at seventy two.
After a long hard isolated winter and the stop start spring she wanted to move on, start her new life for herself. She had no fear of striking out alone, and dreamed of having her own space. A tiny bungalow, sparsely furnished with two bedrooms. One of these rooms would be her creative den, with a deep crimson red velvet chaise longue; to sprawl across when she imagined her erotic fantasies.
Lydia needed the freedom to go dancing. Dress glamorously and flirt outrageously with dance partners, different men. She wanted to know how it would feel again to be held in the arms of an unknown man. Remembering how she felt years ago, the buzz that flowed through her body as a handsome debonair young beau held her closely drawing her body into his body. Of course, she had no idea if it would feel the same but she wanted to find out, before it was too late.
And more than this Lydia wanted to be a writer, more than anything else, a writer of erotic fiction. But she kept having a vision of her mother sitting on her shoulder reprimanding her disapprovingly for being so deliberately outrageous, probably anticipating her courting imminent disasters. It didn’t matter that her mother was dead and couldn’t possibly show her disapproval; it was one of the main reasons she had so readily agreed to marry Frank back in the fifties to escape her mothers deeply ingrained controlling habits.
Fame and fortune were not the driving force for her long held and deeply buried ambition; it was an overriding need to share sensual sexual experiences with a wider audience from the safety and anonymity of the page. Lydia had never been an extrovert; naturally she was rather shy and retiring. But somewhere in the back of her mind was the firm belief that there were other women like her trapped in dull marriages that needed an extra frisson. Frank had shown virtually no interest in sex after the children were born. She never knew why, it was old news, time passed and they had never discussed it.
Telling her three children that she was leaving their father after fifty-one years of marriage would be the next hurdle. Talking to her son had been difficult. Initially Martin was shocked but quickly he came to understand his mother’s predicament. He was generous in spirit and reassured her that whatever she decided to do he would be there for her.
Conversely telling her daughter’s she thought should have been easier. Madeleine the eldest was astonished. But said very little. Not sure whether her mother fully intended to go through with such a drastic decision so late in life. Why now? What had triggered the need to be so cavalier and adventurous?
Emily the youngest was angry and bitter and shouted at her mother, “are you mad? How can you mum, really, divorce my lovely dad? Don’t be ridiculous. You’re being preposterous!” It had been a heated volatile exchange and a heartfelt outburst from her youngest sibling. But one that was to set the tone of their affiliation over the coming months. This particular mother daughter relationship would not recover, as Emily took sides and chose her father over her mother. For Emily this was an easy decision, she loved her dad far more than her mum, for many reasons. But mostly because Frank had doted on his youngest.
Frank went to live with Emily, her husband and her children, Frank’s grandchildren. The small house was crowded but he loved being helpful, collecting his grandchildren each day from school gave him a renewed purpose and a new lease of life. Emily had bluntly told her mother that her mother could no longer see her grandchildren. It was a sting in the tail that Lydia had not anticipated. But as Lydia closed the door on her old life, the unoiled hinges sounded like her sorrow but it was a price she was prepared to pay for her newfound freedom.