Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Friendship Affair

Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality? 

Lena still looked the same. Of course, she was older, but there was no mistaking the woman who had borne his children.
She was dressed in some kaftan thing that looked it had paint spilt on it in litres. Her hair was on top of her head but he wouldn't go so far as to call it styling. It just was.
She was focused on something in the basin so he couldn't see the whole of her face, but if he had to guess no make-up.
She froze. Then stood upright and turned around.
“Nick. I thought you were Angus. He is late with my salt.”
She stopped and turned back to the basin. He wasn't sure he should ask what she was up to.
She stood up again and turned around. Her hands were some awful yellow colour, but she didn't seem to notice.
She frowned for a moment then looked at her hands. “Yes, well. The damn dye is not setting without the salt.”
She glanced at the envelope in his hand. “You brought a pen?”
Before he could reply, she pushed past him and walked down the passage of the cottage.
He blinked. She really hasn't changed a bit.
He heard water run, then it was quiet for few moments, and then she came marching back.
She was alternating shaking her hands and rubbing them on the kaftan.
“There is a table in my studio.”
Again not letting him reply, she marched off. This time, he followed.
The studio used to be the dining room, he would guess. But the rest of the place was also filled with easels and paint brushes, and paintings in various stages of completion.
He might be ignorant about fine art, but as an architect, he had a good eye for composition and design. Lena was truly a gifted artist.
She pushed some brushes to the side and pointed to the table.
He pulled out the papers and took a pen from his breast pocket.
She slowly reached out to take it as if suddenly realising that this was the end of the road.
“It is done?” she asked quietly.
He nodded. “Yes. Tomorrow is her eighteenth birthday, but I will only file the documents with the lawyers on Monday. Then it's over.”
Two men came in and seemed startled by his presence. He knew she lived with two men, but didn't expect them to be the same guys he had met before. So she was capable of a long term relationship, it was the children that caused her to run.
His chest ached for his kids, but it was better this way.
After she initialled and signed in all the right places, she held out his pen.
He put it back in his pocket.
“Do they know? About me?”
“No. You wanted it that way, remember?”
Lena nodded. Then frowned again. “Where is my salt?”
She made to go back to the kitchen but he held her arm for a moment. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
She shrugged. “I might be useless as a mother, but it would have been heartless of me not to help out financially.”
She bit her lip for a second and he could swear he saw a moment of regret, but it vanished when another man walked in. “About time!” She reached out to take a bag. “The kitchen. I need it in the kitchen.”
Then she was gone as if he had made no impression on her daily existence. Perhaps he didn't.
The two men who had been watching in silence nodded to him. “Will everything be okay now?” the taller one asked.
He nodded with a half smile. “I think we are okay already.”
He lifted his hand in a silent greeting and left the cottage, the papers back in the envelope ready to finalise the last point on the divorce agreement between the world famous painter and her unknown husband.

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