Philanderer by Steve Goodlad

“This can’t be happening.” 

Such was the cry of anguish, as she was ushered from the scene by kind hands, into a shop and given a seat. 

“An ambulance is on its way, love; they’ll see him right.” 

She sat obediently, but rocked, as though on a playground swing, arms crossed over her belly trying to hold down the bile. She didn’t notice the anxious glances of her new guardians who had opted for what they’d thought was the easier of the two. Maybe they should have helped the unconscious one they thought. 

In the turbulent sea of her life, he had offered her a safe mooring, a place to assess the damage, repair and move on. But there was a side to his life she hadn’t known about, a side that made him like all the others and the realisation in the last hour or so had been a gallows drop, an inadvertent reckoning with reality, a sudden clearing in the fog she hadn’t realised was there, like a blanket pulled back just for her to see the stars, the constellations as they really are; stars aligned like portents, when mystery becomes knowing and the wealth of love becomes bankrupt. 

She had apprehended them in the street. It silenced him. Just recognition of someone she had never met. She chose to fill the silence; “Leave my husband alone, whoever you are.” 

“You cannot be married, for we were never divorced” said the stranger. 

After that, she had no recollection. It wasn’t until the policeman unfolded her arms and looked at her hands. The raw flesh still under her nails, the scratches on her knuckles, the bruise she noticed as the handcuff tightened. She remembers their shared fury. Only, she hadn’t the sense to run when he hit the ground. 

Published in Issue #16

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