Ships passing

I was married to a man who was often away, and when home was rarely present. If we were ships passing it was on separate seas, in different time-zones, each oblivious for the most part to the other’s existence. He did not have to be elsewhere. He chose it. Things perceived caused an anger that became destructive – he had a need to apportion blame – and I’d grown not only used to my own company but happier with it.

On the occasions he and John met over the summer, he would hover at close distance as John worked hard on some manual task – fixing a fence, digging out rhododendron roots, hauling stones for a rockery I’d thought might be nice near my study window – and he would use his business suit as both excuse and weapon. He made jokes about unpaid labour, about those who command and those who serve. Inappropriate jokes, meanly delivered, which he’d then soften with the promise of a pint later at the pub.

“You make an unlikely couple,” John said to me once. I asked him, unnecessarily, to elaborate. But he merely shrugged, shook his head and didn’t mention it again. 


The summer passed in warm routine, despite it all. The garden took on a civility perhaps not known in some two hundred years – perhaps never. Weeds in retreat, the reach of shrubbery checked, a perimeter now clearly enclosing a cropped lawn and the handsome rockery of Alpines marking its centre point. The nights closed in sooner. The tourist season ended. Those fleeing for warmer winter retreat did so. Those left behind eased out of their summer smiles as if casting off tight shoes. By November my husband was home almost constantly. No reason was given. I assumed he and his latest fling had come to grief. Phone calls were made and taken outside in the car and I wondered how stupid he thought me. Yet, still, I hoped they’d patch things up. The new routine was stifling.
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5 Replies to “Ships passing”

  1. I know marriages like that. It's a strange, sad, but not entirely uncomfortable way to be. Lonely, but there's something very safe in being with someone that cannot reach your soul.

  2. Frankie, interesting observation. Yes, the soul would be fairly safe in this scenario… though at what price?I used to know a guy who collected classic cars. He had about 20 of them in purpose built garages at his house. They were immaculate – he never took them out. I always thought they looked a bit sad.Glen… ha! It's just a snippet, so yes, not obvious. He's described in the previous blog below, which is an earlier bit of this same WIP.

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