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We finished our meal, and left with kisses and hugs in the car park. For them to show sympathy I guess.
I drove home. I was pleased that I had broken the ice with Phil and Denny. Maybe especially Denny. I had known I would have no problem with Phil, he was too old and trusted a friend. But Denny was a woman, and really she was Beth's friend. Two reasons that had made me wonder how she would treat me. Another hurdle over.
The house remained a dismal reminder. As I went into the hall, for the first time I noticed that it smelled of a home I had once known. A home with a happy married couple living there. Pity it wasn't one now.
I went upstairs and showered again. I'd heard, somewhere, that some women, after they've been raped, wash and scrub themselves time after time, trying to wash away the rape. Maybe I felt a bit like that, dirty, sullied. I don't know. I just know that I wanted to shower.
Not long after that Rose phoned to say that it was a very quiet day at Symmonds & Burtons, could she bring our appointment forward? I was happy to do so, and within fifteen minutes I was getting into her car. Rose was one of those instantly likeable people. Bubbly and fun, but with a strong current of sensitivity. You know your in safe hands, but there will be some jokes along the way. Almost before we were out of my drive she tackled THE subject, "Sorry to hear about what has brought you to look for a flat, Tim."
"It wasn't your fault. I'm grateful that you thought of me with this one."
"Well, I used to be a reconciliation counsellor. My advice is to think hard before you do anything. Quick decisions have a habit of coming back at you and biting."
"I'm beginning to realise that already."
"Why? What have you done."
"Yesterday I threw Beth out. It was an angry, instant response. But I now realise it was a mistake."
"Well, I expect you can put it right. Have you talked to her?"
"Oh! No! I don't mean that I regret us splitting. I hate it, but I still think that that was the right thing to do. But I wanted to throw her out, I wanted to make her be inconvenienced. Why should I move when I've done nothing wrong? Or that's what I thought. But it means that I'm the one that is living surrounded by everything from our life together. There are memories wherever I look, with whatever I touch. She's back in the safe neutral ground of her parents. She should be suffering the pain of our house as an empty shell. She should understand what she's done."
"I am sure she is learning that fast. Don't worry, she'll be suffering. Unless she was mentally out of the marriage already?"
I didn't answer. That idea raised horrid thoughts. We sat in silence for the rest of the way.
River Mead is a wide 19th century avenue that runs down to the river, parallel to the High Street.