This pathetic and futile gesture tips me over the edge, and a wave of the deepest sadness sweeps over me. I return to the living-room and slide onto the floor at his feet. I crouch between his knees and take both his hands in mine. I look up at him and try to speak but my voice cracks like bad plastering – something he’d know nothing at all about!
‘I just want to thank you for everything’ I croak, and a big, fat tear leaks out of my eye and plops down onto his combats.
‘Thank you for all the lovely dates.’ I sniff. ‘Thank you for my birthday and Valentine’s night and that breakfast you brought round. Thank you for making me believe that I could maybe, one day, love again. Thank you for always turning up when you said you would – more or less. Thank you for all the sexy texts – at the beginning anyway…’
And I trail off as my voice and heart are truly breaking now and I don’t want him to see the impact that he’s had on me. Nor do I want to make him feel guiltier than he already may. Or for him to see me how I suddenly feel… which is very, very old.
‘How do you feel?’ I ask trying to hold it together. '...now that you’ve told me?’
‘I…er… I feel sorry’ he answers openly. ‘But we always knew…also, I feel…er…a bit relieved really…’
That last was said way too chirpily but although I knew he’d feel this way because I’ve been there, it somehow upsets me more. I wonder how long he’s carried this burden around for, how long he’s wanted to tell me it’s over.
’Does your mum know about me?’ I ask suddenly.
‘Of course.’ He answers.
‘And does she know what you were going to do tonight? Does she know about…S… Sarah?’
I manage to avoid spitting the word out. It was my grandmother’s name.
‘There’s nothing to know, is there?’ he answers and I wonder if my premonition was right when I’d imagined his mother telling him not to see me anymore.
Had she in fact said: ‘Leave that older woman and go out with someone your own age’? If he’d been my son, that’s what I would have advised.
He gets up and slides the DVD he’s brought into my player. As if this is going to make a difference to my life, he tells me brightly that it’s ‘a really good film’. We sit awkwardly on the couch, or at least I do. He seems quite comfortable now. And why shouldn’t he be? He’s been fed and watered, he’s offloaded me in a reasonably decent fashion, he has a new girlfriend to look forward to and now he’s going to watch a ‘really good film’! Life must seem pretty terrific.
I wriggle around and hug my legs to my chest seeking his attention but he is now totally focused on the movie. Men are so weird. If they’re doing one thing, that’s all they’re doing. I fidget some more and he eventually asks: ‘What’s up?’