I swallow hard, look at him and shrug. I don’t really trust myself to talk, but as the confident, capable, cope-able, older woman, I know that talk I must.
‘I always said I would never hold you back from the rest of your life’ I say quietly, with a generosity of spirit I do not feel. ‘I told you I would never try to curtail your freedom…’
The one I call ‘My Sad Tape’ is playing on my kitchen cassette player. Gerard Kenny croons You Are My Fantasy, Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald wail On my Own and Barry Manilow follows with Somewhere down the Road. I only have myself to blame. I made and inserted the tape and I pressed Play. It could be my choice of music that eventually drives them away... Maybe I should invest in something by Autopsy or Maggot Maniacs, but why should I buy music that I don’t like only to get stuck with it when they walk out?
I suddenly feel I can’t do this conversation any longer so I scrape my chair back from the table, throw my napkin onto my still full plate and stomp out onto the balcony, snatching up his cigarettes and lighter as I go. I light the fag and draw on it so deeply and so fast that I get a terrific head rush.
On top of the two vodkas, my emotions are rocketing then plummeting to titanic depths. I am now reeling and giddy. I look down the three storeys to the street below and imagine myself hurtling to earth, my scream piercing the night like his words pierced my heart. Is he worth that? Definitely not. My children and grandchildren don’t deserve it either. Not for an unemployed little Essex boy who refuses to go down on me, but with whom I just happen to have fallen a little bit in love. And I’ll live to fight another day. I always do. This is just another blip, another debit in my love account, a credit in my memory bank, and something I will no doubt not learn from.
I stay outside shivering in the cold, waiting for him to come and find me, and eventually he does, drawing me gently back inside.
‘We woz doin’ it out ‘ere this time las' week!’ he comments, as if he’s telling me something I didn’t already know.
‘Yes!’ I concur sardonically. ‘And now you’re dumping me! What the hell’s that all about?’
‘I hate that word…’ he says.
So don’t do it, I mutter under my breath, and sniff loudly.