The Peeping Tom

I got a taxi to Fife’s village but had the driver stop short before he got to the house. Suddenly it all seemed a bit ridiculous. Turning up on Fife’s door to tell him that the boyfriend I was supposed to have broke-up with anyway has been kicked out of my house because he’s been having an affair with my best friend. Oh and by the way, these must be your kids. Oh, and is this your wife?

Then I started thinking, what if he and his wife aren’t really separated? What if there’s still a spark between them? What if he says it’s over, but she thinks they’re still together?

My legs were carrying me to his house but my brain was thinking, ‘This is stupid, why am I walking to his house? Why don’t I just ring him? Or turn around and go home and text him.’ But I was also thinking, ‘But what if I’m being taken for a mug again. What if it’s all lies, and he’s still with his wife?’

Before I knew it, I was standing in Fife’s front garden standing behind a hedge trying to look through their front window. I don’t know why. I guess I wasn’t thinking properly. I wanted to catch a glimpse of them together. To see if they were actually still together, or if they really were separated. I didn’t expect them to start shagging in front of the window; I just thought I might catch her touching his arm softly, or him giving her a peck on the cheek. Or maybe even the opposite, pass each other in cool indignation indicating that they are truly finished with each other. 

I was standing there for a bout fifteen minutes – both hoping to see them and also questioning why I was standing in his front garden like a peeping tom – when a voice came from behind me.

‘Why are you in [Fife]’s garden?’

It was Conspiracy. Fuck. I had forgotten all about him. I momentarily thought about pretending that I’d come to see him, but then I remembered that the only news I had for him was that we didn’t have an agent to represent his blog/book. And that was not a conversation I felt like having today in Fife’s front garden (if I can procrastinate the uncomfortable I will).

So, I told Conspiracy that I’d come to see Fife, and he asked why I didn’t just knock on the door. Before I could answer, a woman came out of Fife’s house. She was tall and slim. She was wearing a beige skirt and a pressed white shirt with French cuffs, and she had on lovely beige suede heels with white stitching across the top. She was also wearing little pearl earrings and a pearl necklace. Her style was very Kate Middleton. She had lovely sun kissed skin, and thick shiny long dark hair which had been swept into a lose ponytail. This was the same woman I saw come out of the house before. It certainly had to be Fife’s wife.

‘Can I help you?’ she said.

‘Is [Fife] home?’ I asked.

‘Is Fife home?’ I mocked myself in my own head. I may as well have said, ‘Can Fife come out and play?’ What a stupid way to put it. Why couldn’t I have said, ‘Yes, I’m here to see Fife.’ Or, ‘Could you please let Fife know that [my name here] is here to see him?’ Or something more adult and mature. Then again, I was standing in her hedges peering into her front window stalking her husband, I don’t think maturity could have rescued the situation.

I wanted the world to swallow me up. I have never been more embarrassed. I am truly the world’s biggest moron. She looked me up and down, and who knows what she was thinking. I was wearing black tights that had picks all over them, a skirt that kept clinging to my butt and trying to ride up, so I was constantly pulling it down. An old green jumper and the same coat I’ve been wearing for years…the one with the tea stains. My hair was a mess, and I had a tiny little crying session on the way to the train station, so I’m sure my mascara was half way down my face. I must have looked like an absolute crazy person.

She told me to ‘wait right here’, and she went into the house but she left the door open. Fife came to the window, saw it was me, and went to the door, but she stopped him before he came out.

They started fighting.

Is that her? Why is she standing in our garden?
I don’t know. But if you’d let me go talk to her…
She’s a child. What’s wrong with you?
She’s in her twenties.
Early twenties. Did she turn the big two zero yesterday.
She’s old enough.
Old enough to be your daughter.
Barely, and she’s a literary agent.
I don’t care. I don’t want my children exposed to your arm candy.
She’s not arm candy, and what about Dave?
Leave Dave out of this. He’s great with the kids.
Of course the kids like him, he throws money at them.
At least he has a job.
I have a job. One that allows someone to be home with the kids.
You’re a big kid yourself.
I’m a writer. I’m just not a V.P. of some stupid…
Don’t start about my work…

And so on. They were definitely separated. That much was obvious.

I desperately wanted to crawl into the hedgerow and hide until they forgot I existed. Or run. Just run as fast as I could. But images of ‘Run Forrest run’ popped into my head. So I stayed there rooted to my spot hoping that something would magic me away.

Finally Fife came out of the house and said, ‘Why are you here?’

I stammered a bit and said that I just wanted to talk to him in person. He then introduced me to his wife, who didn’t bother to say ‘hello’. She just turned her back on us, walked into the house, and slammed the door. I apologised for just turning up, and he said it was okay, and he’s sorry he was a bit sharp with me, but ‘She gets me riled up.’

He said he’d take me back to Dundee, and we could talk in the car. I told him that I had broken up with Pete, and that he would be gone when I got home. I started to tell him about Pete and Sarah, but I didn’t. I don’t know why, I just didn’t. I asked how long [Helen] had known about me. He said that she had sussed it out pretty early on. She noticed he was acting a bit differently. And he told her officially after that first weekend we slept together. Which I guess, hasn’t been that long ago.

I asked him why I didn’t see his kids, and he said they were playing over at a friends. I asked if they knew about me yet, and he said ‘no’. That’s probably for the best just now.

We got back to the flat, and Fife asked if he could come in – now that I’ve got nothing to hide. I could tell he was being sarky and wanted to check to see if Pete was really gone. I couldn’t say no, but I was worried that Pete and Sarah wouldn’t have left yet. It had been about seven hours since we had our fight, but was that enough time for them to find a place to go and move their stuff?

Fife climbed the stares with me, and as we approached the door I listened for voices. Nothing. Inside the house was spotless. They took all of their stuff, including the futon mattress. I wandered into the bedroom; everything of Pete’s was gone from there as well. In the kitchen they’d left the spare keys and taken the majority of the food out of the cupboard. The flat looked so empty, and the lack of furniture was apparent once again.

Fife looked about and said, ‘Holy shit. They’ve knicked all your stuff.’

I assured them that they hadn’t. I didn’t own much to begin with. Everything that was mine was here (except my food, which I paid for). I sat down on the floor. It was so empty and I was no longer angry, I was sad.

I asked Fife to stay the night, but he said he couldn’t. Helen is back down to London in the morning, so he needs to be home to get the kids to school. I then asked if he could just stay a while. We laid on the floor cuddled up together watching television for about an hour when he kissed me and said, ‘This is how it’s supposed to be.’

I agree.

Due to my protestations that he should stay the night. He said that Helen is back on Thursday, so he’ll plan to stay the night then, because she can get the kids off to school on Friday.

He’s gone now and the house is so empty. As much as I complained about not having any time alone, and as annoyed and frazzled as I was with the number of people in the flat, I don’t like the quiet either. I like having people around me. Or should I say, I like having considerate friends around me. I miss Sarah, or, more appropriately, I miss her as my friend, and I miss who I thought she was.

Maybe I’ll go see what PoshPhD is doing?


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