This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 799 words.
If you let it, married life becomes a habit. And for a couple more years, we were guilty of doing just that. Becky applied for promotion to Ward Sister in the Emergency Department, and got the job. That meant she was in charge on her shifts and had a lot more responsibility, including more paperwork and supervision. She got a bit puffed up by that, and started to use expressions like “My team”, and “In my department last night”. Meanwhile, we drifted through our marriage, making appointments to do things together based on whether or not she was working. I still spent a fair bit of time on my own in the house, and often when she was at home, she would be sleeping after a night shift.
Becky had the idea to write her forthcoming shifts down in a big diary, which she left on the coffee table for me to check. But I soon learned not to trust that, as she frequently changed those shifts because someone had gone sick, or worked extra shifts when people were on holiday. I got used to eating alone some of the time, and her going to bed earlier than me after a long day shift. She did throw herself into her days off though. Doing her share of the housework, getting the supermarket shop when she was at home midweek, and even tidying up the garden that we never spent any time in.
Before I knew it, our sixth anniversary was approaching, and sure enough she was going to be on night duty on that date.
I spent the evening alone reading her blog. She still wrote it, mostly in fits and starts, but I hadn’t read it for a very long time. She had written a post about it being our anniversary, and how she was upset that she couldn’t be with me to celebrate it. There was a wedding photo, and a lot of very gushy stuff about what a great husband I was, and how blissfully happy she was. Scrolling back over most of the posts I had missed, I hardly recognised the Becky and Frankie she was writing about. There were photos from the holiday to Bodrum, and the later one to Cyprus. Also our holiday when we stayed in England, and drove around the Lake District. It had rained all the time, and she had complained non-stop.
But on her blog, it was described as ‘magical’, ‘romantic’, and ‘just perfect’.
There was everyday stuff too. Photos of the garden, captioned ‘Our little garden, the place we love’. Most times we had been to a restaurant were featured, and they were never negative. Captions like, ‘Great food in the company of my perfect man’ had me shaking my head as I remembered her arguing with the waitress about how long it had taken for the food to arrive. Then we argued because I remarked that we were not really in any rush. A couple of hours reading through her blog had me convinced that what she was writing about was for the benefit of any friends and family reading it, and was only a half-truth about the life we really led.
The next Sunday, we stayed at home as she slept off her last night shift. Then she got up and had a shower, coming down wrapped in a towel with her hair still wet. I had made up my mind to have a talk with her, and this time I did.
In a reasonable tone of voice, it all came out. Why the blog didn’t seem real, the fact that she booked things and bought things without ever checking with me first. How her job was the only thing she ever talked about, and how I felt that sometimes I was just along for the ride. While I was at it, I threw in my annoyance at her and her family claiming all those Scottish connections, when they were all from the London suburbs, clinging to a heritage that was essentially non-existent, other than a surname. To give her credit, she sat and listened to all of it without interruption, and I was completly surprised by her reaction.
She cried a bit, then apologised. She told me I was right, and she felt guilty about excluding me. But she maintained everything she wrote on her blog was exactly as she felt inside, and was how she felt about me all the time, every day. We had a cuddle, and she vowed to make more effort, even apologising for not realising how she had upset me. I felt pretty good after that, like we were finally communicating properly. Then she was going upstairs to sort her hair out, and turned before walking through the door.
“Frankie, I am Scottish you know”.