‘No milk today, thank you...’, so reads the note she stuffs inside an empty bottle on the porch. Gazes, for a minute or so, up and down the road, with its two-up, two-downs; wheelie bins resplendent in all their shimmering, frost-capped glory. Tightens the belt of her candlewick dressing-gown, and goes back indoors; a somewhat decrepit grandfather clock in the hall ticks louder of late, she’s sure it does, as she checks her watch and adjusts its hands accordingly.
His favourite chair mocked her with its emptiness; the cushions, tidy – plumped up and undisturbed, and yet, even if he were to come in, right this minute, he’d probably give her one of his, ‘So what’s all the fuss about?’ looks, he’d perfected to a fine art, before falling asleep at the fireside; selfish, to the core. She’d been under no illusions from the start. He was never going to change. Not for her...not for anybody, but old habits died hard. He only had to glance at her with those canny, green eyes of his, and she was putty in his hands, so to speak.
Love may be blind, as they say, but it’s far from stupid. The sole reason she tolerated him and his wandering ways, was because she couldn’t envisage life without him. Consequently, she’d take it on the chin, every time. Take tonight, for instance; she knew exactly where he’d be...Flaunting his jaded charms in front of that ‘Jezebel’, recently moved in at Number Seventeen; one of those foreign types from the Far East, or wherever. She fancied herself, and no mistake; full of airs and graces, but whatever the little tart saw in Eddie was beyond her...or vice versa, come to that.
“Well blow me – talk of the devil! And exactly where do you think you’ve been till this unearthly hour? Bloody midnight! Don’t you come the old lovey-dovey with me, mister! That will get you precisely nowhere. It’s cupboard love, and you damn-well know it! Your dinner’s in the kitchen, where it always is...
So, how did it go...this evening? Come across, did she? You’ve very subdued, so I take it she didn’t. Thinking about it...if I’d a mind to, I could easily dampen your ardour, good and proper. One snip, and Bob’s your uncle! Just joking, of course. Wouldn’t ever do that to you, would I? But, on the other hand, I know a man who could, as they say. All things being equal though, you’re only doing what comes naturally. Wouldn’t I, given half a bloody chance? Speaking of which, I’m away to my bed. Oh...and for your information, I’ve locked that bolt-hole of yours. That’ll put a stop to your shenanigans – till the morning, any road; but I think you know what side your bread’s buttered, Eddie, which is more than can be said of your namesake, but the least said about him the better.
You’ll be up later, maybe, so I’ll leave the bedroom door ajar. A girl can always live in hopes...Can’t she? It’s freezing, and you’re the next best thing to an electric blanket, so maybe I will have that pint of gold-top, after all. Do you hear that, Eddie? Not that I’m trying to ‘twist your arm’ nor nothing. I’ve just remembered, there’s some leftovers I can have for my dinner tomorrow. A bit short of the readies this week, if you see what I mean, but I’ll be fine, and it’s pension day on Wednesday, anyway, so no worries. Asleep already, I see...whiskers all a-twitch...not a care in the world, all your ‘bits’ on show into the bargain. You know, I envy you, Eddie, although I’m not too sure about the ‘nine lives’ thing. One’s enough for me...one too many it would seem, at times.”
Standing on the doorstep, she glances up and down the road, with its two-up, two-downs, back-to-backs, and side-by-sides. The cold wind cuts right through her... stings her eyes, as she retrieves the note from the milk bottle...a smile, flirting with her lips. “Goodnight, Eddie babe...wherever you are,” she whispers, to a pale, indifferent, winter’s moon...closing the door behind her.