Brenda leaned back on the closed door, her legs feeling like jelly. She had expected to feel a sense of freedom now she had at last moved into her own place, not this terrible, scared sensation. The space before her was flooded with light from the huge picture window. It was this window and the balcony beyond which had been the deciding factor in choosing the flat. Looking round now, the space cluttered with tea-chests, boxes and heaped-up furniture, she found it hard to recall her visualisation of what the room could be. To her horror she realised there were tears in her eyes. ‘Get a grip’ she told herself fiercely, dashing away the tears with the back of her hand. ‘You’re a grown woman and you are perfectly capable of dealing with a simple thing like moving into a new flat’. She moved forward and began to undo the fastenings on the nearest tea-chest.
Mistake Number One. There, sitting in plain sight on the top, like a present from Sleeping Beauty’s malevolent Fairy Godmother, lay the Wedding Album. Brenda’s mind raced. The last time she’d seen it was about seven years ago, when she’d had a frenetic clear-out of cupboards to take her mind off her husband’s latest escapade. She remembered vaguely putting it in a pile of stuff to go to the tip – obviously someone had decided it should be kept. Where had it been until now? And who had packed it for her to find when she moved into her new place? Tony couldn’t have put it there – he hadn’t been back to the house while she was packing. There had only been Bernie and Chris – and Zoë!
It must have been Zoë! Brenda’s eldest child had not troubled to disguise her feelings about her mother’s decision to divorce Tony after the final straw of his affair with Lisa.
‘Honestly, mother, I think it’s disgustingly unfair of you’ she had raged ’ How did you expect Dad to know that you’d treat an affair with Lisa any differently to his other flings? After all, he didn’t know that you and she… were… an item…..no more than I did. I only found out by accident.’
Zoë had a point. When Tony’s philandering, caused in no small measure by Brenda’s lack of interest in their sex life, had forced them to take stock of their marriage, they had agreed to stay together to raise the children in what was then fashionably known as an ‘open’ marriage. After a few years of heart searching and straight talking to herself, Brenda had admitted that the problem did not lie with Tony. The problem was that her own sexual preferences did not lie in the general direction of men. In short, she eventually ‘came out’, if only to herself in the first instance.