This is the twenty-sixth part of a fiction serial, in 954 words.
Not long after we got back from the holiday to France, I did three spontaneous things in quick succession. It wasn’t long before Becky had changed her word for it though. She preferred ‘Impulsive’. Not quite ‘Reckless’, but indicating that she thought the sudden change in my attitude was less than desirable. She had conveniently forgotten that it had been her suggestion in the first place of course.
And there was a fourth thing too, but I didn’t tell her about that.
My first decision was to change jobs. I heard about a new online bank opening. No branches, no chequebooks, just online with a call-centre backup. They were looking for department managers, and I applied to be head of the mortgage section. I got an interview, where I impressed with apparently knowing the demographic of the customers they were hoping to grab from the traditional banks.That generation who were ‘coming up’. Young professionals who couldn’t be bothered to queue in a branch, had never signed a cheque, and lived their lives online. I predicted an easy and secure phone app, text message contact, and a big push to offer students good banking facilities to keep them as customers once they were earning well.
That got me a second interview which involved some annoying role play, and an assessment of my understanding of social media and computer skills. The next day, I got a phone call offering me the job, with a start date at the end of the following month. The headquarters was in a trendy brownfield site in North London, still accessible from the Northern Line train. But the big draw was the salary, almost twice what I was getting, and no targets as the manager. I would have to inspire my team to reach theirs of course, which was one of the main roles of the new job. I would still get the staff mortgage benefit, as it would just be transferred across for the usual small fee and paperwork.
I hadn’t told Becky, as I didn’t want her to know if I didn’t get it. But I would have to get her to sign the paperwork eventually, so suggested a meal out at a nice Indian restaurant, where I broke the news. She tried to look pleased for me at first, but then slipped into doubts about my previous pension, whether or not the new bank would stay in business, and loads of other negatives that were a complete downer. I suspected that her main gripe was that I would now be earning so much more than her. She had always liked to mention that she earned more than me, even though the difference was only two hundred a year.
When I said that the extra money would mean we could do a lot of nice things, she just nodded.
Then I changed the car one Saturday, when she was at work. I knew she wouldn’t be happy about that, but it was exactly what she had done, and it was certainly spontaneous. I didn’t go crazy, just bought a nice Honda hatchback with a slightly bigger engine. It was one year old, low mileage, and the difference in the part exchange price was easily paid out of my own savings account. She didn’t complain that much, especially after she had driven it around the block a few times on the Sunday morning. But I knew there had to be something.
She didn’t like the colour.
Once I had settled into the new job, I planned my third surprise. Her birthday was coming up, and I asked a lot of questions about whether or not she definitely had the day off. She said she did, as her parents were planning a dinner for her at their house. I had already taken the time off, telling my new bosses as soon as I started. I rang her mum and dad, explained what I was thinking of doing, and swore them to secrecy. The night before her birthday, I told Becky we might be doing something special, and that she would have to get up early, and wear something nice. She still insisted on phoning her mum to make sure she knew we wouldn’t be going there, but I had her intrigued.
On the morning, I drove us down to a private airfield, where we had our own helicopter flight across the Channel to France. A taxi from the airfield there took us into the centre of Paris. Lunch was booked at one of the latest trendy restaurants in Montmartre, and we had time for some sightseeing before. She was definitely impressed, as well as being completely gobsmacked. When we finished eating, I presented her with a gold bracelet made from links in the shape of hearts, and a waitress brought out a little cupcake with a candle alight on it.
It was all pretty much perfect, even if I say so myself. On the late afternoon flight back to England, she held my hand tightly, and told me she loved me.
But in the car on the way back to the house, she finally cracked, and asked me how much it had all cost. There was no way I was going to reveal the astronomical price of that one day, so told her that was my secret. Her response was to stare out of the window and mutter, “But it’s so extravagant, Frankie”.
Oh, that fourth thing. I started my own blog, which is how you are reading this. That’s if anyone is reading it of course. I didn’t allow those likes or comments, and have never actually checked if anyone has read so much as a word.
And like I said, I didn’t tell Becky about it either.