She looks out of the window. It’s raining outside, as it is raining in her heart. She remembers an old song by Leo Sayer “It’s raining in my heart”, but then it meant nothing to her, as her life was full of sunshine, no heavy clouds on the horizon. Unfortunately, it now seems so appropriate.
Forty years, she thinks. Forty years of love with a man, youthful years shared, then a life built together, the happiness of a child, the joy of watching her grow, first into a little boy, then a teenager – and those were some tough years – and now, finally, turned into a responsible adult, a beautiful person, opening his way in the world…of course, their life together had had ups and downs as all have, but there was always this feeling about having built something lasting, with strong foundations. It is true that in the last months, perhaps years, she had begun to find him a bit aloof, not so affectionate, but then he was never a romantic man prone to manifestations of love, and both of them were getting older…he was more the rock by her side, the one who never failed her, the one she knew she would always count on. And, after all, he had always spent so much time travelling for his work, and she was devoted to her career too, but that was their balance and it had lasted and been successful.
I must have been blind; she tells herself as she now watches the rain pouring down. Outside two sweethearts try to find some shelter under the woman’s small, girly-like umbrella, in such an unsuccessful way that they give up, only to get soaked; they burst out laughing as if thanking the rain to come down on their happiness and make them feel alive. Once, long ago, I was – we were – like them, she thinks, but it’s all dead and buried in a distant past.
Until the day of enlightening came. Brutally, as if all the signs hadn’t been there – only now she knew she didn’t want to see them. He made her sit down, looked her straight in the eye, and told her he was not in love with her anymore, their marriage was over, and he would be moving out of their home.
At first, she was dumbstruck, she though this might be some sort of a joke. But of course, she knew it wasn’t, he was never that kind of a practical joker. She just looked at him and he went on. His eyes were bright, and she knew he must be suffering too, for forty years together cannot be erased like a pencil drawing on a sheet of paper, and she listened.
He said he had felt dead for years in their marriage; not your fault, he added, nor mine, things are just like that, relationships are like people, they are born, they live, and they die, and our love has died. She wanted to cry no, my love for you hasn’t died, maybe it has changed, but it’s still there, but again she kept quiet. By the look in his grey eyes, that turned so mysterious at times, she knew he had made up his mind. She let him speak on, and he said he felt he could not go on living like this. As much as he had great affection for her and would always have – she marked the word “affection”, how cold, my God, how polite – he said he felt he was not so young anymore, in his early sixties, and he had the right to try and find happiness in his remaining good years.
And the she knew.
“You have found someone else, and you have fallen in love” – she said, slowly, each word that came out of her mouth like a piercing arrow through her heart.
Again, his grey eyes, no longer bright but brave, determinate, looked straight at her and his lips pronounced the cruellest word – “yes”.
All was decided in a highly civilised way. They shared the news with their son, who was sad but understood (they agreed to spare her the details of her father having found another love, for the moment. After all, she didn’t want to turn her son against his father, not for the world. Whatever for?). He moved out, they agreed upon all the financial details and filed divorce proceedings. All the while, this emptiness inside her grew, and she knew it would go on growing, it would become a monster that would ultimately engulf her as the grief of her loss became more acute, more palpable, more real.
It has turned dark outside and she gets up to turn the lights on. Passing by the window where she was lost in her thoughts, she sees her reflection, and the starkest truth assaults her – a sixty five year old woman who was once pretty and vivacious but has gained weight with age and has a puffed face; a woman with short hair because it is most practical and a woman who no longer worried so much about being smart but rather favoured being comfortable. A stooping woman, as if the years of unhappiness ahead have suddenly been put on her shoulders. And, for the thousandth time, she thinks how his new love, his new woman, must look like; is she younger, is she thin, does she dress smartly, is she intelligent, does she talk about interesting subjects, does she make passionate love to him, as I haven’t for such a long, long time?
Shaking her head, trying to chase those painful thoughts away, the discarded wife closes the curtains over the window and stops seeing her image. Better this way, she thinks, and she walks away, each step taking her towards what she knows will be the terrible emptiness of her future life.