He always was predictable. Same password. Same status updates: look at me doing things with the kids, look at me doing things with her. The kids and her. There they all were grinning furiously back out from Facebook, yesterday from the oh-it’s-just-perfect hotel and today from the beach. Spain. Just like we used to. Predictable.
Forty three people like this photo. Forty fucking three. Half of them were supposed to be our friends: Caroline, we don’t want to choose sides and we really want to stay friends with both of you. Well, you chose. You, Emily Richardson, bridesmaid at our wedding: you chose liking their photos. You, Steve Jenkins, oldest friend from college: you chose commenting on their status. Hotel looks fab, have a great time guys. You, Julie Smithson, NCT partner in crime: you chose setting up the girl’s meet and greet coffee morning for all the yummy mummy’s for Year One. Chose it and invited her. Not me. Her. You all chose. You all chose predictable him and little miss I never meant for this to happen but you can’t help who you fall in love with. Fuck you all.
The key was under a plant pot near the front door. That hadn’t changed. Predictable Sam and his predictable safety mechanisms. In case I ever get locked out ! Like Sam had ever been locked out in his life. Sam could barely leave the house without triple checking his wallet and keys. Sam kept spare change in the little compartment in his car – the one specifically for spare change, the one everyone else stuffed with sweets or ignored – for parking emergencies. Sam had never been caught out in his plodding and predictable life. Straight, safe, missionary position, book before bedtime Sam.
Slipping silently inside the house was all familiar. They put so many pictures of it up on Facebook that it was easy to imagine living there. Easy to imagine but not practical in reality: not now that bitch had staked it out as territory. Behind the front door was the porch where they all line up their shoes, four pairs, biggest to smallest. That photo had topped fifty likes. His large, sensible leather work shoes – black, plain, laces – down to Mia’s tiny velcro strapped pink Lelli Kellys. They’d brought coos of delight and admiration in the comments bar under the photo. So cute ! Adorable ! Such great taste – just like her mum ! Just like her mum. Her “mum” who’d lined them up, photographed them, and pasted them out to the world on social media. Not her mum who’d bought them. Her actual mum. Her Monday to Thursday and every other weekend mum.
The hall was replete with a large picture of them all. The new family. Professionally taken, staged against a white background. Happy smiles as the photographer had shouted sausages or bottom or visitation rights or whatever the hell they shouted now. Adjacent to the picture hung a large framed sign spelling out what this new family was all about. This had garnered another fifty likes when it had been recycled onto the world wide web. This family does love. This family respects each other and treats everyone as an individual. We laugh. We cry. We look after each other. On and on with the empty platitudes. This family did deceit and divorce and lawyers and bitterness and rancour. This family does revenge.
Up the stairs it was less familiar. A private space not usually revealed and shared. No sense dwelling on the kid’s bedrooms. Clothes and toys picked out by real mum, displaced and folded away by the imposter. Certificates from school that they insisted on pinning up in their bedroom at home. This home. Not their other, smaller, Monday to Thursday and every other weekend home.
And then their room. Immaculate, of course. All pastels and cushions. Soft furnishings arranged in hard, clinical lines. A kingsize bed and matching bedside cabinets reflected back in the mirrored built in wardrobes that rolled back to reveal dress upon dress upon dress. Size eight. Of course she was a fucking eight. There was that Ted Baker dress (thirty six likes: wow, you go girl, stunning, gorgeous) from Sam’s 40th and the charity shop number that looked like a Vera Wang (forty likes: so stylish, charity chic, you have such a good eye) and the wedding dress. The wedding dress. Who keeps their wedding dress in the wardrobe ? Pulled out and flung on the bed it looked almost exactly the same as it looked on the day. In the photos at least. The ones with the kids – not the bride’s kids – just tucked in behind it, holding the train. The oh-so-fucking-cute one of Mia peeking out from directly under the train (over one hundred likes).
Pulling open his drawers was predictable. Same M&S underwear. Pairs and pairs of black socks, neatly tucked inside each other. Folded white handkerchiefs. The top drawer by the bed held two packets of condoms, one unopened, the other barely begun. Same brand they’d used. Her drawers though were a surprise. Tiny, flimsy knickers. Bitch has probably got a pelvic floor like a steel trap. Vagina like a vice. Nothing you’d wear after having kids. Nothing you’d wear past 40. It’s all coming for you darling, you don’t know it yet but it’s all coming. Then buried beneath the piles of lacy nothingness, a long, smooth vibrator. Somewhere he’d never find it. Somewhere he’d never go. So we have that in common at least.
The wedding dress cut easily. A pair of nail scissors retrieved from the en suite (our house has four bathrooms… fifty six likes the day after they’d moved in) and its simple, slim lines and discrete, classy detailing was hacked apart in a couple of minutes. Would have taken longer if it was a bit bigger. Size fucking eight. That was the first photo uploaded to his wall. Riches to rags its caption. Change your password you predictable, betraying idiot.
The vibrator took a while to break in half. Smashed again and again and again on the side of her dressing table until it cracked and split. That was photo number two. The fractured remnants atop his unopened packet of condoms and a pair of her flimsiest, laciest underwear. This one also deserved a caption: broken him in yet ?
And finally, two words smeared across her dressing table mirror in the boldest, reddest lipstick she could find rummaging through unfamiliar and expensive brands of make up. Not yours.
As they appeared on his status feed she silently pressed delete on the pictures held on her phone before leaving the way she’d come in: through the front door, replacing the key under the plant pot. Of course they’d know. He was predictable but not stupid. She wanted them to know. But they’d never prove it.
One last check of the phone, the three photographic acts of vengeance staring back out from Facebook. No likes.
This is the tenth story in my series of 42 shorts that I’m writing to raise money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity. They aren’t usually as nasty as this. Please share it if you liked it (or even if you didn’t…). If you’re interested in donating to a great cause then please visit my fundraising page. https://www.justgiving.com/42shorts/