Jane was rushing, with her head full of things that had happened recently. As she rounded the corner of the busy shopping street she collided with a young man coming in the opposite direction.
‘Whoa! Look where you’re going!’ he stopped to steady her. Then a light dawned in his eyes.
‘Isn’t it Jane Simpson?’ he said hesitantly.
She screwed her eyes up to see who’d nearly knocked her flying and found herself looking into the eyes of a former boyfriend, someone she’d dated for several years sometime before her marriage.
‘ I used to be a long time ago. I’m now Jane Gibbs,’ she replied.
‘Well I never, fancy bumping into you. I haven’t seen you for ages or even heard about you from friends we’d in common. How are you?’ he scrutinised her face. ‘You look tired.’
You won’t have heard of me she thought. Jim won’t let me have friends. He’s made sure that I’m cut off from anyone I used to know. He alienates everyone. If it wasn’t for the children I’d have left years ago.
‘I’m just a little tired John, as I’ve been up with one of the children who’s been sick. Nothing a little sleep won’t cure. How about you? You look well. What are you doing now?’ she asked, keen to deflect any further questions.
‘Oh, I was married but now I’m divorced. I’ve two children who are five and three. They live with their mother but I have them every other week end. We both found it didn’t work after a while.’
Wish I could leave Jim, but he’d never let me take the children. I’m in a very different situation. If only Jim didn’t fly into rages and lash out. What a good job he doesn’t hit me where it shows. He’s very crafty like that. My bruises are always hidden. I can’t be without the children.
‘Good for you. It’s good that you’ve easy access to your children. How old are they?’
‘Five and seven. The youngest has just started school. How about yours?’ he inquired.
‘Similar to yours. Six and eight. One of them has chickenpox at present. A neighbour is looking after him so I can shop. Well I must dash,’ she was impatient to end the conversation as she didn’t want any more awkward questions to be asked. Seeing him had reminded her of the past and good feelings she had experienced then. Feelings that had been forgotten. I can’t even remember why we split.
‘Not so quickly! Come and have a coffee and we can talk more. For old times sake,’ he
appealed to her. ‘Surely we can reminisce a little.’
‘Another time. I really do need to get back now and relieve my neighbour. Sick children need their mothers and I don’t want to put on her.’
‘Please take my phone number and ring me when you can spend a few minutes with an old friend,’ he pleaded.
‘OK, I’ll do that,’ she replied not meaning it.
He scribbled it on a piece of paper he had in his pocket and pushed it into her hand. They took their leave of each other.
As he walked away Jane wanted to scream Don’t go I need a friend! but daren’t. She was pensive. It’s time to go to ask for help. I may as well be dead as exist like this. Life is to be enjoyed not endured! I’d forgotten what it’s like to experience kindness.
She took out her phone and dialled a Refuge!
© AS Bielby October 2011