Saturday by Rebecca Saunders
You brought me tea in bed on Saturdays. In all our nineteen years together I never told you I preferred coffee. You tried with me, I’ll give you that. I was the one who wanted to change things. I wanted our love to be on fire, I didn’t want our feet to touch the ground. Sometimes you would just want to sit down and relax together, be bored together, eat biscuits together. “Isn’t it nice to do this sometimes,” you’d say. I’d nod, sat next to you straight like a broom, hands by my side. Love with you was a non contact sport. It was tag rugby; it was a game of chess.
You sat on the end of our bed and read me the headlines. I hated your voice. It was too loud, too coarse. I sipped my tea in silence and hugged the mug for comfort. My mind wandered to when I’ll finally say, “I’m leaving.” I almost said it that day. The words got caught and turned into a cough. “You okay?” you said, over the top of the paper, reading glasses on the bridge of your nose. “It’s raining tomorrow.” Always raining, I thought. I don’t think it rained anywhere else in the world except above our semi detached house. A grey cloud followed me, rain with a small chance of thunder.
You bored me. Your routine, shower, shave, read the paper to me. Your jokes. “I’ll have a pint of Guinness and a red wine. Not in the same glass mind.” I laughed at that one once. Nineteen years ago when I was drinking Snow Balls with my friends.
Friends. What are they?
We went shopping, food shopping. Not clothes. Nothing fitted my pear shape and it would always end in tears that you didn’t know how to comfort. I stuck to food, I knew where I was with it. There was no such thing as a tight cream cake. I waited at the door, thirteen hundred hours, military precision. You were running late, rushing around to find your other shoe. I tapped my foot and checked my watch. I liked to be on time even when there were no limits. You were slow, old, tired. I still had my energy, my get up, my go.
We didn’t argue out loud, you thought it was uncouth. I argued with you in my mind every time you did one of your irritating habits. Like when you cleared your throat before every sentence, or how you sing along to songs that you were too old to know. In the car, on the way to the supermarket, I wondered why we were still trying. How did you not know I was unhappy? Before long we would have creaky knees, bus passes and knitting on the go. Who would want us then? Maybe that internet bride or the Turkish guy down the chippy who’s after a visa.
You pushed the trolly and I walked along the sides throwing things in. “Watch out love, you’ll break the eggs.” You said that every week. I’d never broken an egg. I’d like to have thrown a dozen at you while you browsed the spices pretending that you were going to cook up something special. I’d rather them hardboiled, I thought. Then I saw Denzel.
Denzel. You saw him too. Not that you noticed him like I did. He was the black guy, broad and big- but not fat. Far from it, all muscle under that crisp white shirt, I thought. You might remember him as the man whose trolley you bumped into. “Watch out,” I said. When you said sorry, over and over, he said: “No worries, it’s fine.” His voice was soft and delicate.
“Excuse me love, do you know where I’d find the beach towels.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t work here.” It was that shirt I had on, the one I wore to work sometimes, big grey ugly thing. Remember? I looked around to see if you were there. You must have gone off to find your cereal.
“Sorry,” he said. I smiled.
“That’s okay. I think they are down the holiday isle, just past the clothes.”
“Cheers.” He winked at me and I blushed. “Hey you should work here; you’ve been the most helpful.” I wanted him to be my dirty little secret. I looked again. You were still gone. I slipped him my number in a moment of confidence. He took it and said he’d call. I didn’t care if he didn’t. I just thought that I might die if I didn’t have something to look forward to.
How was I to know you’d had a cardiac arrest? Were they out of stock of bran flakes? Was it the shock that caused it? Unlike you to display an emotion publically. But there you were crying for help in isle twelve. Then came the blue lights, the flashes of hospital doors, through this one, through that one. They swung behind your trolley. Were you still alive then? Did you watch me check my phone to see if Denzel had called? How inconsiderate. Could you hear my wicked thoughts that your death could be my easy way out? I wouldn’t have to choke on my words anymore. God would forgive a widow but not an adulteress. Without you I could wear my hooker heels and do my shopping on a Sunday. Did you hear me think those thoughts?
I just think we were a waste. A waste of years we can never get back. I will try and relive mine, bring me the minus nineteen years back. Because Denzel called. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t cough up those words sooner so you might have had someone better, someone less like me.
So I leave you this note, this note by your graveside, to say sorry that I hated you for nineteen long years. I know you didn’t care for daisies. But I got you them anyway.