Those we leave behind
“You were so beautiful,” she says. “When I first saw you I couldn’t stop looking at you. Everyone said you were gay.”
This is their bed. Their marriage. The single lamp makes the room a warm tent.
She rubs her hand across the egg of his stomach, pushes her thumb into the crease at his waist, crunches the pad of his pubic hair with her palm.
“You were so thin, that hair and those lips and eyes.” She nuzzles into his bearded cheek. “Not a whisker. When you first slept on our couch everyone asked ‘who’s that girl’?’”
He does not say anything. The children are asleep. The cul de sac is quiet. “Remember when you used to wear makeup? Do you remember before we went out and that man in the pub bought you drinks all night? You were so polite to him, just cocking your head and listening. Just like a girl.”
“I’m so glad we had Amanda. Dad couldn’t believe she was yours. ‘That puff’ he used to say. I’m so glad you get along now. No one recognises you in the old photos.”
Kissing him, closing her eyes, she cannot see that he is crying.