18th November


She was still in shock when they collected their coats and said goodbye. Independently and in silence they negotiated the frosted pavements to the car. Nothing was said as she started the engine and put the fan on full blast to clear the windscreen. After a minute or two she pulled out. Still not a word since leaving the party. Maybe he didn’t speak because he was slightly drunk. Or maybe he had nothing to say to her. Or he had something but didn’t know how to say it.

She was sober. That was why she was driving. She could have done with a drink. She could still hear his voice: ‘Well, you know when it’s over, don’t you? For us, it’s been over for years. We need to end it and move on.’

His voice in the kitchen. The words not said to her but they might as well have been. She’d been about to go in to help and something stopped her, some sense that she shouldn’t push open the not fully closed door. And she heard that. Sure, he could have been speaking about a business contract or the Scotland–UK thing or some other breakdown she couldn’t imagine but she knew it wasn’t any of those, it was about him and her, their marriage, and he was saying it was over, and she didn’t go in, she retreated back into the party and a minute later he appeared carrying trays of food, followed by their hostess. And she thought, They’re not having an affair, surely? But the hostess was his oldest friend, from university. She’d be the one he’d confide in, in that casual, practical way.

She drove through the empty streets, the silence. It wasn’t him in the car with her, it was his presence.

Say something, she thought.

‘Did you enjoy that?’ she asked.

He said, ‘It was all right for me. You’re the one that didn’t get a drink.’

‘I didn’t want one.’

He reached forward to put some music on.

‘Don’t,’ she said.

He sat back.

‘Talk to me,’ she said.

‘What do you want me to say?’ he asked.

So then she knew it was true.

Reader: Gerda Stevenson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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