This is the thirty-first episode of a fiction serial, in 828 words.
To give Olly credit, when he turned up after work that evening, he rang the doorbell. Leah was sleeping upstairs in her cot, and I asked him to speak quietly. He didn’t try to offer me any lame excuses, or contrived reasons for his infidelity. And he didn’t blame me for any of it, or Leah. He took the responsibility, and stood up like a man. Shame he hadn’t done that about the problems with Leah, but it made life easier that evening.
Allowing him to speak without interruption, I let him outline what he had been thinking about since finding that note stuck to a suitcase.
“Apologies are not enough, I know. I won’t go into detail, but this thing between me and Lauren is more than just an opportunistic affair. We both felt a connection that night when she came round with Ronnie, and when she acted on that, I went along willingly. Naturally, I will continue to pay for everything, and there will always be money in the account for anything you need. As for me seeing Leah, that’s up to you, but I will help anytime you need me. You have the car, and I will also keep paying Rosa so you don’t have to worry about housework when you are dealing with Leah. Long term, things will have to change, I know you realise that, but for now, I don’t want you to worry about anything”.
For some reason, I had small things on my mind. Like who mows the lawn when the grass grows. But I put them aside and instead talked about lawyers. That stunned him, but not being married carried some complications. Both our names were on the house, and the small mortgage, though the car was registered in his name, something easily solved. After the betrayal, I had lost all trust in him, so I wanted something formalised, an amount he had to pay every month for Leah. He was on the birth certificate as her father, so could not escape that responsibility. And what if anything happened to me? How could I trust him to care for her properly?
He thought it over, and his reply made me think twice about what I had said.
“We can do that if you want, Ang. But as I understand it, you would be a lot worse off. They would only make me pay each month for Leah, and that wouldn’t include you at all. You would be left to claim some kind of carer’s allowance, or consider going back to work and paying a child-minder. Getting one of those who can cope with Leah’s issues might not even be possible. With my suggestion, your life can carry on more or less as normal. The house doesn’t have to be sold at this stage, and there will be money for you for clothes and things for yourself, as well as for Leah. But if you go down the legal route, you will open up a can of worms, believe me. I am certain to get the next promotion at work, so finances are not going to be an issue for the foreseeable future”.
Olly had done his research, in a remarkably short time. Typical of him.
It made sense to accept his arrangement for now. I certainly couldn’t consider going back to work, and I needed to find out a lot more about allowances and legal issues before jumping the gun. So I mellowed, and offered him the TV, as I now hardly ever watched it. I also said he should take the Apple computer, as I was happy with the Dell laptop. Then there was the matter of the rest of his clothes and shoes. Not to mention the huge number of books he had around the house, and his football memorabilia stored in the loft. He had thought about that too.
“I have rented a storage unit in that new place near the supermarket, Big Yellow Storage. When it suits you, I will hire a van and come and collect everything. I thought it might be nice if you were out, maybe visiting your parents. So any weekend soon would suit me, if that works for you. I will lock up and put my keys through the lettebox when I have finished. I don’t think it’s fair for me to keep them”.
Neither of us were upset, and that seemed strange. I said I would go and see my mum and dad on Saturday, and he could get in after nine, and do what he needed. That seemed to be the end of the conversation, and he stood up ready to leave, making no attempt to hug or kiss me, which was a relief.
With no sound of a taxi, I suspected that Lauren had brought him by car, and parked out of sight.
Then at least an hour went by until I realised he hadn’t asked to see Leah.