‘I’m multi-tasking like women can!’ I say, trying not to sound too bitterly, twistedly ironic. ‘Clever that, wouldn’t you say…being able to watch TV and THINK at the same time?’
This would have made him laugh in any other circumstances but he doesn’t laugh this time.
‘Just watch the film,’ he advises, like this will solve all my problems.
‘It’s really good…’
I chew my lip for a while then perk up a bit as I have a flash of inspiration, or is it desperation?
‘Any reason why we shouldn’t have sex tonight?’ I query engagingly.
He sniggers and says: ‘I s’pose not’ and I momentarily feel a little better, like I have something to look forward to. I’m not convinced, however, that making love when you know it’s for the last time, is such a good idea…
Eventually I settle down and we actually snuggle up and I pretend to watch the film. My body language, however, is horrendous. I’m wrapped around him like a drowning woman clutching a life raft. One of my legs is thrown around both of his and I’m holding both his hands like I’m trying to create an unbreakable circle. But it’s already broken. I know that. He’s drawn away from me if not physically, then certainly mentally.
When the film (what film?) ends, I ask trepidantly: ‘What now?’
‘I’m shooting’ he replies having a long stretch.
I get up and walk out. I busy myself in the kitchen. He comes looking for his trainers and with a slight sense of embarassment, I open the broom cupboard and hand them to him. He scowls and shakes his head, then goes back into the living-room to put them on and collect the rest of his stuff.
I remember his Nike t-shirt I’d slept in then hand-washed and ironed lovingly like it was the Turin Shroud or something, and I go to the bedroom to get it. I hand it to him but I cannot meet his eyes. I do not want to watch him leave. I’ve played that scene too many times before. It hurts. We stand opposite each other in the hallway and I take his face in both my hands. I turn it this way and that kissing him on both cheeks as I studiously avoid his sweet and tender mouth. It’s the way a mother would kiss a much-loved child goodbye. He plants a smacker on my lips like he did that very first time, but this time as I draw back, I’m not giggling.
‘Talk to you later’ he says cheerily.
I raise one eyebrow.
‘Or tomorrow or the next day…’ he goes on.
I pull a 'wha’ ever…' face, open the front door and he walks.
‘Don’t ever be afraid to phone or text me,’ I call out, as he heads off down the stairs, and I close the door firmly behind him.
I take the deepest breath and set my mouth into a thin, determined line. I march into the bathroom, pluck The Robe off the back of the door and stuff it into the washing-machine... ready for its next wearer.