The road stretched on endlessly, until the black tarmac eventually faded into the horizon.  Alastair Ford was preparing himself for the long journey ahead.  He was hoping to sneak away from Lucy, before the sun rose, but his second wife had caught up with him at the last minute.

“What are you doing, Alastair? Why are you here?” She asked.

“We’ve all lived long lives.  I have done evil in mine.  I need some time alone; just to think.” Alastair replied, mysteriously.

Lucy frowned.  “I don’t understand.”

“I don’t expect you to.  It’s a long story.”

****

She was twenty five years old and she was beautiful.  She had rich chocolate coated hair and mysterious, intense eyes.  She walked with confidence and left many men in a lustful dream, but it was a twenty three year old Alastair that had caught her eye.  Things had happened so quickly after that.  They had flirted.  They had courted.  They had married.  Alastair had been so young at the time, he had been completely oblivious to the evils of his first wife.  In retrospect, he knew he had been a naive fool.  His first wife had been a vicious Venus fly trap who was slowly baiting her jaws.  Alastair had fallen for her every trick.  He had become completely enamoured by her.  This had proved to be his undoing.

****

“I still don’t understand.  Please come inside and let’s talk about this.” Lucy urged.

Alastair and his wife lived in an English country house in the middle of nowhere.  They had been living there for long over ten years.  The pair walked into their home and into the kitchen. Lucy picked up two mugs and turned on the kettle.

“Please explain to me why you have to do this.  I need to understand.”

Alastair affectionately stroked his wife’s hair.  “It’s complicated and messy.”

“Tell me about this first wife of yours.  Why have I never heard of her?”

“You never ask for anything Lucy; you’re a complete giver and that’s why I fell in love with you.  Simone wasn’t like that at all.”

“I understand, but why am I only hearing about this now?”

“I’m not proud of what I did to her or of what she did to me.  I’ve never wanted to talk about it before.”

****

Alastair had been with his first wife for two years, but it had already turned into a loveless marriage.


“Simone, honey, could you take the car to be serviced?”


“No, I have to do the paperwork.” Simone had rarely used pet names and when she had, it was out of malice or manipulation, rather than affection.


“Simone, sweetheart, I’m going to be late home from work, could you pick up some dinner?”


“If you’re coming home late, then you can pick it up yourself.”


Even though Simone had never performed any favours for her husband, she had been never hesitant about asking them.


“Alastair, can you pick up my dry cleaning?”


“Of course, honey.” 


“Can you buy some champagne for a work thing? I’ll pay you back.”


“Certainly, sweetheart.”


“I’m sorry to ask you this, but I’m going to dinner with some friends.  Can I have some money to pay for it?”


“Yeah sure.”


“Really? It’s going to be very expensive.” Even though, Simone was trying to sound very apologetic, she kept fluttering her long eye lashes and speaking in a sickening sweet tone. Alastair remembered looking straight into his first wife’s eyes.


“I’ll do anything for you.”


“Aww, well, aren’t just a complete sweetheart? So, I’m going to need about fifty pounds for dinner.”

****

The sun was slowly rising over Alastair’s home.  Lucy was staring at her husband, slack-jawed.

“Wow, you must have really loved her.  She sounds like a manipulative…you’ve never been that flexible with me.”

“I know that it’s important to show control and authority now.”

“Did you not know she was taking advantage of you?” Now that they were both awake, Lucy was toasting some bread in a subtle gesture to convince her husband to stay at home.  As Alastair was considering his wife’s question, he self-consciously rubbed the face of his analogue watch.  “Love blinded me.”

Lucy was now furiously scraping some butter across a piece of toast.

“What happened afterwards?”

“It just deteriorated.  Everything fell apart.”

****

<i>As Alastair had been swinging his 5 iron, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.  The movement distracted him and it was a poor shot.  The ball stopped rolling a few feet short of the hole.  Alastair’s golfing buddy, Edward, frowned at his friend.


“You’re off-form today.  That should have gone straight in.” 


“Simone just texted me.  She wants me to pick her up after work.”


“Are you?”


“Of course I am.”


“Simone has got you whipped.” Edward remarked.  The game of golf had been completely forgotten about.


“No she hasn’t.  We’re married.  We love each other.”


“I’m sorry to have to say this, but she is taking complete advantage of you.  How much money has she “borrowed” from you? Has she paid any of it back?”


“She will.  I know she will.” 


“How long have you been with Simone? Three years now? And in that time, she hasn’t done any good for you.”


“Why are you telling me this now?”


“I’ve seen what Simone has become.  I’m telling you this as a friend, just be careful with her.” 

****

Lucy smiled sadly.  “I’m guessing you didn’t listen to him.”

“Edward was my friend and I knew he was just looking out for me, but I couldn’t believe him.”

The pair were alone in their house; they didn’t have any pets or children.  A crow cawing broke the early morning silence.

“I still don’t understand why you feel the need to leave home.  What had Edward noticed in Simone that was so bad?”

****

“Alastair, honey, I want to talk to you.” Simone beckoned.  She was sitting by the kitchen table.


Alastair had noticed the use of the pet name and knew that his wife wanted something, but he decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.  He walked over to Simone, but didn’t sit down.  He wanted to stay standing, to give the impression that he was in control.  


“What is it?” He asked.


“Alastair, sweetheart, I think instead of having two separate bank accounts, we should have a joint account.”


“Why? So you can steal more of my money?”


Simone had feigned a look of pure innocence, but her eyes were darting around, searching for an escape route.  “No! Of course not! I just think it’ll be more convenient and we’re married too.  It’s the right thing to do.”


“No.  You want to do it, so you can steal more of my money.” 


Simone had suddenly shot out of her chair and was staring her husband straight in the face.  She started speaking in an icy tone.  “More? I have never stolen a penny of your money.”


“Really? What about the ridiculous amount of money you’ve “borrowed” from me, but never paid back?”


Simone tried to subtly soften the tone of her voice.  “I told you, I will pay you back.  I would never steal from you.  I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.”


“Except steal all my money.”


“I thought there was a time when you would do anything for me?” Simone had given up on trying to sound apologetic and had let the ice creep back into her voice.


“Just shut it, Simone.  Shut up!” Before Alastair was aware of what happened, he had slapped his first wife, the woman he loved, around the face.  Simone looked on in a shocked horror, before storming out of the house.

****

Lucy’s hands had flown to her mouth.  “You hit her? That’s not like you at all.  I can’t believe it.”

Alastair sighed and sank lower in his chair.  “I never meant to hit her.  I was so angry, so mad.”

“I don’t know what to say.  I would like to think that you had a good reason for it, but I’m not really sure.”

“This is why I need to leave home.  I’ve been dwelling on this for so long.  Maybe I was in the wrong.  Maybe I was in the right.” Alastair stood up and walked to the door. Sunrise had just finished and a car roared past the country house on the black tarmac road.

“Wait! There has to be more.  That can’t be everything.  What happened between you and Simone?” Lucy urged.

Alastair paused at the front door.  “We only stayed together for a few more weeks.  At one time, it seemed like she had forgiven me and we were going to be alright, but then I lost my job and that was when she left me.”

“Simone left you because you lost your job?” Lucy questioned in disbelief.

“Well hitting her didn’t help things either, but that wasn’t everything.  I don’t know how, but she got into my bank account and stole a considerable amount of my savings.”

“Are you saying she’s a gold digger?”

“Yes.  I think that was her plan all along.  Me becoming redundant and slapping her were just catalysts.”

Lucy walked over and tightly clasped her husband.  “Was she ever caught?”

“No.  She’s still out there.”

“Wow.  Maybe you were in the right.”

“Was I? Was I really?” Alastair reluctantly broke free of his wife’s arms.

“One more question.  Do you still love her?”

“Love…” Alastair began and then stopped.  He took one last look at Lucy, before taking a deep breath and a first step onto the black tarmac road, which stretched endlessly onto the horizon.

*Author’s Notes*

This was something else I wrote for my writer’s group, when we were studying the device of flashbacks.  I was given two prompt cards to serve as inspiration for this, a long winding road and a picture of a posh, fancy woman.  I’m not sure how well I captured the flashbacks.  I tried writing the flashbacks in past perfect tense, to differentiate them from the main story.  I suppose this is more of a character drama than anything.  You can decide for yourselves whether Alastair still loves Simone.

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