Damn Terry. Damn the kids taking too long on the shower. He’d probably think she wasn’t coming and that she wanted out of this relationship. She had been late to their dates a few times recently and Janey wondered whether Alan would start to find her tedious rather than sexy and alluring. Shivers went down her back at the thought of him calling it all off. Seeing him was the only thing that made her life worthwhile.
Now she was driving as fast as her little car could go, hoping to get to the car park and find Alan still there. Hoping his silver family car was still tucked almost out of sight at the far side next to the SupaValu recycling station. Janey’s eyes blurred with tears just thinking that he might have left without seeing her.
Janey thought Terry might know or at least suspect. This morning he had been grumpier than usual, spilling tea on his shirt and insisting she iron him another, complaining the orange juice had bits and yelling to the kids to get out of their damn beds. As he left for work he leered at her and grabbed her by the arm. “Anything planned for today, dear?” he asked. “This place could do with a spring clean. Make sure it’s done for when I get back.” Then he gave her arm and extra squeeze and walked out.
Janey arrived at SupaValu almost 30 minutes later than she had intended. In front of the store she could see two cars had collided, a red one driving in and a blue one reversing, and the drivers seemed to be arguing about whose fault it was. Janey hadn’t seen the bump happen but her money was on the young male driver probably going too fast. In her experience, it was usually the men who caused anything violent to happen. Not always, but usually.
Janey turned her Smart car up an avenue of cars to miss the hold-up and headed for the rear of the car park. But as she drew near, she could see Alan’s car wasn’t in its usually space. She drove around and his car wasn’t parked anywhere else nearby either. He had gone, fed up of waiting for her. And her hopes of a new life went with him.
She parked her car and wondered what to do. She was surprised that no tears came when only minutes before she couldn’t hold them back. Today she had planned to tell Alan what he meant to her. To tell him she wanted to leave Terry and be with him instead. Even if he wouldn’t leave his family yet, she could find a flat and they would meet there instead of in a supermarket car park. Eventually his boys would be old enough and they could be together. That’s what she dreamed of, every night, when Terry was snoring and chuntling in his sleep. It’s what kept her strong and stopped her going mad.
But he was gone. Janey knew somehow he was gone for good, not just because he couldn’t wait any longer. She looked at her hands and saw they were white where she was gripping the steering wheel. She let go and watched the colour return to her fingers, blotchy red, then mottled pink, now normal. In such a short time, everything looked normal again. They throbbed a little, but they looked normal.
In her mirror Janey looked at her face and saw that looked normal too. Nobody was guess she was waiting to meet a lover who had just ditched her. Instead she looked like a middle aged housewife bringing her bottles and papers for recycling before shopping for her family. She laughed at just how inaccurate appearance could be.
She didn’t really have much of an option for today but to leave and go home. Maybe there would be another Alan soon, someone else she could meet to pass the time with. She knew at least that her feelings about Terry hadn’t changed and she still hated him. But she could pretend for a while longer and give the appearance of a normal family, she decided rubbing her arm. Her own children would be off to university in a year or two and then she might make any number of changes in her life.
Janey drove back to the front of the store, parked up and went inside to buy supplies for spring cleaning. She would find a way through the next few years and perhaps start making sure Terry didn’t get inside her head quite so much. And maybe if she could wrestle some of the power away from him, she might not need to find a new Alan after all because she would have a new Janey instead.