I pretend to not recognise her.
Instead, I hide my deceit behind a poker-face, one which has served me well down the years whenever I have felt cornered.
My tone is abrupt, which instantly creates the wounded look on her face, but I am playing a game. I’m good at mind-games: it offers me a diversion from the drudgery of my existence. Something in my brain tells me I should come clean though. She doesn’t deserve my deception, or my contempt.
After all, I was in love with her once. Still am, I suppose.
She stands in front of me, waiting in anticipation for me to correct myself. I can see the hope in her eyes. I wait, then reveal that my charade is a tease, a poor joke. The lie is with me. Her face lightens.
I sit quietly by the French doors to my drawing room, which overlooks the walled garden at the rear of the home in Shropshire we once shared many years ago. Sadly, I now live alone, a prisoner of my own unfathomable conscience. My only visitor is the day nurse who pops in during the morning on Tuesday and a Friday. Her name is Jenny, and she is my only contact with the outside world. Except for the home help, but I don’t count her. She has a miserable disposition, which some would argue fits neatly with my outlook. We should be a perfect match. It seems everyone else has abandoned me over the years. I have a laptop for company but it isn’t the same.
I’m now confronted by this unexpected visitor, and it perturbs me. What does she want after all these years of separation?
Before I start off with an ill-tempered rant in her direction (I’m prone to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation), let me fill you in with a short resume of my professional life, which hopefully will colour in the background as to my natural inclination for sufferance, but not necessarily guilt. I’ll skip the personal stuff for the minute, for that is normally where it all goes so horribly wrong for me……..
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