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Ginny sat reading the paper as I stared at her. Her cup of tea was well on its way to going cold as she engrossed herself in another Celebrity scandal. I didn’t break my gaze as I sipped at my own cooling brew. I quietly perused her visage, surrounded by her long raven hair. I tried in vain to get a glimpse of those killer blue eyes. But they were fixed solidly on the words she was reading. I wondered how many times I had kissed those lips in total. I knew it was more than one hundred; had to be. What was I thinking about? It had to be at least a thousand. I slowly sighed to myself. She turned the page of her paper, ‘what you sighing about? Always bloody sighing you are.’

I sighed again; even if I had kissed them over a hundred thousand times it still wasn’t enough. She always complained that I wasn’t right; why wasn’t I like normal men she’d say to me. Why wasn’t I off to the pub, or Fishing or playing Golf she’d complain. Point was I didn’t want to go anywhere without her. Anyway, I hated Fishing and if anyone had ever seen me try to play Golf they’d know why I hated that too. I got up from the creaky chair and put the kettle on. As I prepared two more cups of tea for us she let out a gentle cough, ‘nothing on the bloody TV tonight again. I don’t know why we bother with a licence!’

‘We could go out?’ I offered.

‘No, why don’t you go out instead? Give your Brother a ring and go to the Snooker hall or for a couple of pints with him. I’ll be fine here.’

I sighed again; she just rustled her paper a bit harder.

The kettle gave a gentle clicking sound as it reached its climax. As I placed the fresh cup of Tea next to her I noted she had moved onto the Crossword now. I looked over her shoulder in a vain attempt to help her. She was having none of it as she pulled the paper from my view. I took a seat and sighed again. She had placed the paper flat on the table now and was looking as studious as the keenest Fresher at Oxford or Cambridge. As I sipped at my tea I noticed the patch of condensation on the ceiling again. It had become a total eyesore now. No matter how many times I promised to get it sorted I was always forgetting. Another mark in her ‘bad boy’ book I guessed. She coughed again and then spoke, ’Five down, seven letters, clue is ‘suffocated’?’

I felt quite honoured to be asked, ‘any letters?’

‘Begins with an ‘S’ and the fourth letter is an ‘F’.’

I felt a wave of excitement in my response, ‘Stifled.’

She looked at me sardonically, ‘That figures!’

She filled the letters in and then took a big swig of her tea. The old clock on the wall chimed in acknowledgement that time had indeed reached the hour again. It chimed the requisite number of times and then the Kitchen fell silent again.

‘OK, eleven down, ten letters, clue is ‘that which is hard to contain? Second and third letters are ‘X’ and ‘C’, last letter ‘T’.’

‘Excitement!’ I offered.

Again there was a slight look of contempt surrounding her face, ‘Mmm, I just about remember that.’

She began to slowly fill in the answer whilst speaking the letters aloud, ‘E-X-C-I-T-E-M-E-N-T.’ She then began blowing at the answer with her beautiful lips.

‘What are you doing?!’ I asked.

‘Blowing the cobwebs off the word; it’s been so long since I saw it last. Funny, it doesn’t look the same as I remember it.’

That one caught me right between the eyes, but then I had built up some resistance now as I had been hit there so many times in the past.

‘Come on, leave that now. Go and have a nice shower, put your glad rags on and I’ll take you out.’

She rustled the paper in her hands, ‘It’s too late now, and besides there’s something good on TV later that I want to watch.’

I couldn’t help but wonder if the word ‘contrary’ was created specifically with her in mind. It was only minutes ago that she was bemoaning the lack of anything worth watching on the TV. Of course I knew the real reason was that she just didn’t want to go out with me; plain and simple. Why? Because there was no excitement in that any more was there?

I decided to take myself out for a walk, and so I left her sat in the darkness watching some nonsense on the television. It was some sort of Reality show involving five ‘C-List’ Celebrities parachuting out of an aeroplane. Apparently, of the five parachutes only one worked and the remaining four Celebrities would have no choice but to fall to a certain horrible death. I think that was how it worked? Or was that just wishful thinking on my part?

I closed the front door behind me and locked it solid. I double locked the Yale lock and put the Mortice lock on too. I always liked to make sure Ginny was safe and sound if I left her alone at home. That was why I locked her in with care. I took myself out into the cold night and before long I was walking through old Temperance Town. It was approaching mid-evening now; a transitional period for the night life. Those who had left work for an early evening drink were now being replaced by those who went home first and then came back out into the night; back into the ebbing twilight. I remember how Ginny always likened it to a shift change. I passed the Taxi ranks, protectively lit from above by street lamps. The streets were busy with all manner of life; Business men, Shop workers, everyone from the Lady to the Tramp. I carried on wandering the square mile not knowing exactly where I wanted to be or where I wanted to go. It didn’t get much lonelier than this but I knew whose fault that was; mine. If it wasn’t for me then Ginny would be walking those streets with me there and then. We could have been on our way out to have a meal and a drink, or go and see a film. But it wasn’t to be. And that was because I simply couldn’t forgive; I couldn’t forgive Ginny. I still thought of that moment when she told me she had given herself to someone else; and it still gnawed away at me. My heart always told me it was only the once that it happened, but my head insisted there were many more times. I was sure of it; wasn’t I?

And so some nights, very much like tonight, I would come here to Temperance Town and just block the echoing screams of her infidelity from my head. All I would hear were choirs, the Gospel kind. Some nights I imagined Mahalia Jackson singing way above the sounds of the buses, cars and trains; above the sound of life. Tonight was no different; I could hear those choirs again. It settled me; I knew it was all going to be ok; that Ginny and I would be alright. I thought of her safe and secure behind the double-locked door at home. She would come to no harm behind closed doors. I knew she would be waiting patiently for me. I knew she would be there in the kitchen with a cup of tea and her newspaper.

I walked through the Bus station and spotted a young couple in a full embrace. A bag lay at his feet as he said his goodbyes. The Coach engine was running and the door lay open to take him away from her. And their sadness penetrated my very being. What they didn’t realise was that their longing for each other was at its most intense at that very moment. I knew that much. And once he had left it would slowly ebb until she knew he was coming back. But I would never dare tell either one of them that.

After a couple of hours I decided to make my way home. I hadn’t been anywhere in particular; I had been nothing more than observer, watching everyone come and go. And with each passing minute I missed Ginny more. I wished she would let me make sense of it all again for us both. But it was too late now. All I could do was make sure she was safe and sound at home. In all honesty, she was far better off there, and if she needed to go anywhere I could always go with her couldn’t I?

I unlocked the Yale lock and Mortice locks. I then found my way to the kitchen. She was sat at the table. I noticed the redness of her eyes and the packet of tissues on the table.

‘Miss me?’ I asked.

‘No more than usual’ she sniffed. ‘Been anywhere nice?’

‘Just walking.’

She picked the paper back up and looked at the crossword again.

‘You didn’t finish it then?’ I asked.

‘I have one left.’

‘Maybe I can help?’ I offered.

‘Maybe you can’ she said with a trace of bitterness. ‘25 across, nine letters, clue is ‘pardoning’, the first three letters are F-O-R and it ends with a ‘G’’.

I knew the answer, but I couldn’t say it.

‘Any ideas?’ she asked.

She knew I knew the answer. And I knew that she knew too.

‘Bloody crossword, always beats me!’ she moaned.

And so we both tripped over that stumbling block once again. But I couldn’t do it. I had been torn up inside for so long over everything. I was happy just still to be with her.

I walked over to her and put my arms around her. She sighed heavily and looked up at the condensation stain on the ceiling.

‘I’ll look at it tomorrow, I promise.’ I lied.

She got up and gently kissed me on the cheek. She then left the kitchen. I followed her and turned the kitchen light off, leaving it in its embracing darkness. I then went to the front door and ensured it was locked properly. I removed the key from the keyhole and placed it in my pocket for safe-keeping. Yes, Ginny would be safe now; safe and sound in my arms.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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