Amelia’s gaze followed her husband’s retreating back as he walked to the 2nd Mercedes on the forecourt of their Hertfordshire home. She barely heard the clunk of the car door as he closed it and pulled away. Breathing in she relaxed slightly, finished her coffee and considered her options, pulled nevertheless in the direction of the breakfast bar, filling the dishwasher automatically, clearing herself a space to think.
She texted Clara to say she had something else on, and sorry but couldn’t meet her later after all. More space. She liked arranging space around herself.
Unless of course, the clutter was hers. She walked into the extension, a wing at the back of the house that arced their garden on one side and overlooked the paddock and village beyond. Her craft room had been Gordon’s gift to her for her fiftieth birthday, although it had been four years in the making. She still marvelled at her luck that it was hers and felt at her happiest in it’s faithful, cool light. Somehow the door acted as a pressure valve, and the expectations and presumptions she had so far tolerated in her life were at least temporarily left outside it. Now she used the space to reconsider. What have I tolerated? How much space have I relinquished subconsciously?
Beyond the large table that ran the length of the room on the left, her eyes and thoughts were drawn by the painting she had been trying to complete. Her eyes probing the trouble spots, she tried to see them as if for the first time, looking for the obvious tip off. However, she found her concentration was nowhere near what it needed to be, or rather her peace of mind. So, she turned to the pieces of chair cover rumpled up on the table before her. The heavy roll of embroidered brocade she’d been allowed to order burdened the far end. At least another week would be needed to complete replacement covers for their conservatory chairs, more likely a fortnight once she threw in the committee meeting, her voluntary afternoon at the riding stables with the disabled riders, and she really needed to spend some time tidying the garden before it was dark virtually after lunch, doing the bits she didn’t want to leave to Derek, their gardener.
Amelia was not one who liked to leave things unfinished.
What has changed? she asked herself. Two days ago, the trust had all been there, between herself and Gordon. They had laughed so hard. She smiled, despite her discontent, recalling Tuesday evening. He had said he loved her. Now she felt like a toy rag doll, thrown aside in the face of greater priorities. It undermined her self-esteem so utterly, and he never seemed to get it. Time and again, she tried to wise up and keep a bit of her heart in reserve, to protect it from being trashed, but somehow that way, life was mere existence. Buy some time, she self-prompted. Do something to restore your balance. You can carry on with the chair cover. You always knew Gordon would as happily sit on a dustsheet thrown over the sofa, unless his mother was coming to stay, of course. She grinned to herself. But was it sad and futile to carry on making something only she would appreciate? Yes, there’d probably be a few kind remarks from Gemma and Lionel, and Mags. And some witty, rude ones from Geoffrey. The thought of Geoffrey with his arrogance and stupidity made her shudder. She put the two pieces she had been pinning together down and went back to the kitchen, to put on more coffee. As she waited for the spluttering to finish, she reconsidered. Her whole life, she had fought the urge to commit suicide, and the ugly old suggestion posed itself to her again. Incongruously, the mental fight continued in full fury; or make chair covers. Because she had been able to conceive of how they’d look, and could do it, she’d embarked on it with great enthusiasm. And gratitude. How in her element she’d felt then! How could one careless suggestion pull her apart again? She knew what Gordon thought; his little china doll was always too fragile and always would be. That cage had sometimes been invisible, faded to white in the light of happier times, but in the darker moments it surrounded her and she felt it always would while she was part of his life and therefore had to tolerate his assumptions.
It wasn’t as if she hadn’t tried to talk about it, and he had listened. He had not understood, though. He overlaid his knowledge of her, his familiarity with certainties she could never undermine or wrest from his determined place of security.
Yes, she thought. It is worth it. I am in my element here, doing these things. He and Geoffrey can sit in the horrid, fuggy sitting room getting pissed, telling each other how hilarious they are. Suffocating in their fucking, opiate old dogmas. I’ll stay here and do this, being me. But first, I’m going shopping with Clara. He owes me. She texted her friend, showered hastily and left, scattering gravel as she accelerated the 1st Mercedes off the forecourt.