‘And take your blue budgie with you!’ David’s last angry words rang in my ears as he slammed the front door of the police house in my face, and on my marriage.
Fighting back tears, I stood on the pavement outside and my mind went back to the start of it all. That day at the police ball, when I first saw Neil. He was everything David was not. Tall, dark, handsome, the unmistakeable bulge of his truncheon noticeable through the thick blue serge of his uniform.
When he smiled at me, I wanted to melt. Why did David’s looks never do that to me. Make me want to melt away like Fry’s chocolate in front of a winter log fire
When he took me in his arms for that first dance, it seemed as if we would never more drift apart. Why could we not stay that way forever, drinking each other in with our eyes? Because of David, of course.
That and nosy Mrs Jones at the police house opposite. What did she think, I wondered, to see Neil’s car outside so often when David was on nights? It must have seemed a strange time to be practising point duty in the bedroom. But of course, Neil was on duty, and if my bedroom was part of his beat, that was all right.
Then that dreadful day, when David should have been directing traffic in the centre of town. Instead he returned unexpectedly to find Neil and me engaged in learning riot control on the sofa
‘I must warn you that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence,’ he said hotly, as Neil silently retrieved his trousers from where they were draped over the budgie’s cage, shaking his foot where the Jack Russell had peed on it in excitement.
But nothing could keep us apart. Not David’s anger, nor even when Neil was posted to distant Snettertoneast. We knew we were meant for each other, and our love was a thing that could not be denied.
‘No matter what you say, I’ll always love him,’ I told David tearfully one day over supper – our anniversary. We had been married just six months and he had prepared my favourite meal, one Ryvita biscuit with half a radish, and covered the table with 182 daisies, one for every day since our marriage
Poor David. He tried so hard to make it work. But I knew that there was only one man meant for me, and that my only mistake had been ever to believe that David and I were meant for each other.
But how could I tell him I was leaving him? I was fond of him, even though he threw me downstairs every day and went out for forty-two pints and a game of darts with the boys each evening when he came back from the beat.
I knew he wanted to make a go of it. But that night, when he had left for work and I heard him trying to claw his way through the wooden back door to get to me, convinced me.
That and the time I woke and found him standing over me, staring with glassy, lustful eyes at my body in its see-through chiffon nightie-ette which Neil had bought for me because he said it matched the colour of my eyes.
I had to tell him. Summoning my courage one morning, I said, as we were tucking into the Wheatybangs, ‘David, Neil and I love each other, we’re going to run away and live in sin in a Salvation Army hostel in Saundersfoot.’
For a moment, I thought he would strike me. His anger was so towering. Then, with a choking noise, he pitched face forward into the porridge, pointing to the door and sobbing wordlessly for me to get out of his life.
Sighing, remembering, I turned round to pick up my bags – and found that the budgie had been run over by a No. 47 bus.