Over a shared breakfast, they talk about the children….the cabin by the lake comes to both their minds….with the addition of a tent for the children, for one thing, the cabin is one tiny room, for another, they both want time alone, together. Hiking, canoeing (he can get hold of a canoe)….”big enough for five?”, she asks, and he laughs, “we’ll manage.”

He licks honey off his fingers, leans over and kisses her mouth, then suddenly business like, he has to go. “Things to do,” he says, looks away.

She leaves the table, walks up to him, but he avoids her eyes, turns briskly, opens the door, walks outside.

And here it is, reality, like a punch in the guts.

A storm of self abuse rains down upon her, as she holds onto the table, feeling her legs give way.

Here it is, REALITY.

“You stupid, stupid, deluded old Woman, could you possibly think you could have him….hold onto him?

Ha!!!  Marry him, have his children.

Go look in the mirror, DO IT!!!”

And she does, and sees many many things….a lifetime etched into her face, tears, rage at all the feared impossibilities, the agony of aloneness, the visceral need of a man. Her mirrored image stares back, ruthless……she sees a face ravaged with loss and grief, and still keeps looking, until she sees her soul self, feels some small relief, some grace.

And looking back once again…..” I am more than a young body, a pretty face. I am ALL that I am, and I am enough.”

Quietened now, she clears away the breakfast leavings on the table, washes dishes…..makes the bed, refusing to change the sheets, remove the stains, the scent of their recent lovemaking….smoothing the old, faded, cherished quilt…..folding the doings of the night in, keeping them tucked away between the sheets…”for now”, she hears her inner voice say. “For now”

And later, she goes out, to the movies….enters another reality, loses herself completely.

The credits roll by on the screen, the lights come up, and there he is, arm around the shoulder of his girlfriend, leaning down to her, as she tilts her face up to him, laughing.

They are beautiful together….she stays in her seat watching them….so lovely, both of them. Watches, waits until they leave….is amazed to find she can stand up, walk down the theatre steps, breathe.

Finds her car keys, drives home, finds some peace in being alone…goes out into the darkness with her dogs, turns on the outside light….and walks among the spring flowering plants, smelling their perfume in this quiet, stillness and realises, “I am all right”

A few days later, a message on her phone, “sorry about the other day, the way I left. I’m sorry…..for being rude, for leaving you that way, I didn’t want to hurt you……

I’ve got hold of a canoe, talked to my sister. She’s grateful and the kids are keen.”

She finds no answer, can’t respond….the image of his other life etched into her mind’s eye.

She’s neither angry or sulking, a wall has dropped down between them, and she cannot navigate a way back through to him….the beautiful stranger she saw just nights ago, arm around his young lover.

And so she does, says nothing.