As we walked across from the car park the board outside was already persuading us to go in – today’s specials chalked up in a script that Helen would have immediately identified as French.
Opening the door I saw her eyes located our favourite Polish head waiter across the crowded room and I knew that I could relax – we would have a good evening. The noise level was reassuring, not too loud, just a bubble of voices, no need for background music. We go to our table, tucked into the window, she is smiling, happy. It is so easy to love her when she’s like this. On the spur of the moment I order two glasses of bubbles.
Our main courses arrived and as if on cue the sky outside darkened and it started to thunder. I caught her eye and she looked away. Her food was untouched.
Nothing, she said, although clearly untrue.
Why didn’t you tell me?
Oh god, what have I done? More to the point what have I failed to do? I know where this will lead, we have been here so many times before.
Outside the lightning flashes and the rain lashes against the window.
You must have known that the fish would be fried, she said. I feel so fat.
*** *** ***
John sat calmly, waiting for Helen to speak. Gently he prompted her ‘you were telling me that you felt so fat.’
She burst into tears and slowly, hesitantly through sobs, started to tell him what had happened.
We went out for dinner. It was our favourite restaurant, I thought it would be fine.
She hesitated again, head down, twisting the rings on her wedding finger.
It was lovely and sunny when we went in, a beautiful evening. I was so happy that the summer was nearly here. He bought us bubbles to start, that’s really romantic for him. Then we ordered. I thought that it would be grilled fish, but then I saw it going to another table. Why didn’t he see it? He might have done, and it’s all part of his plan to fatten me up.
John interrupted Helen. ‘Why do you think he wants to make you fat?’
There was a long silence. The clock ticked loudly in the room that she knew was safe.
We argued. Well, I provoked him and went on and on and then I couldn’t stop. Why does it always happen like this?
John looked at the clock. ‘Time’ he said quietly. See you next week.