I know I shouldn’t have come into the house. I have no right to be here anymore – that was the deal. She got to keep the house and I got everything else. Mainly I got my life back and, at the time that felt like everything, but now I’m not so sure.
I can’t blame anybody but myself, I wanted out of the relationship. I felt suffocated, like life was passing me by. And Nat, well if I’m honest, she was dragging me down. I never said anything, not at first; I mean what could I say? “Nat, you’re starting to feel like a noose around my neck and just being in the same room as you makes me feel like I can’t breathe.”
I’m not proud of what happened and I know I’m weak. Had it not been for Lily, I probably would have just carried on pretending everything was all right, while a little bit more of me felt as if it was dying every day. Lily was fresh out of university and doing a placement at the company where I work. We clicked straight away. She reminded me of my university days and she loved listening to my stories about the lads and our drinking games and all the mad antics we used to get up to.
Nat was never that interested in any of my stories. I’d see her face shut down the minute I mentioned golf or the lads at the cricket club. I’m not blaming her, as I said I know the fault lies at my door but, maybe if she’d shown a bit more interest. My golf mates, Steve and Tom, always thought Nat was stuck up. I got sick of making excuses as to why she didn’t want to come on any of the ‘dos’ so, in the end I didn’t bother, I just told the truth. “I’d rather be pecked to death by birds,” she’d said that last time and Steve and Tom had gaped at me, mystified, when I told them that one.
The first time Lily went with me, you should have seen the looks on everyone’s faces. She’d worn a short skirt and a top that showed off her arms and shoulders. Nat practically had to be surgically removed from her cardigans; she wouldn’t be seen dead in anything that showed off her arms. She always said she was fat but I could never see it. And, after a while, I got sick of telling her she had a killer body and just left her to get on with it. Lily though, she loved her body and, after that first time, she was the talk of the golf club. None of the blokes could believe my luck. Even the ones I didn’t know that well would slap me on the back with a knowing wink. Their wives didn’t seem as keen, which caused a bit of an atmosphere and then Lily said she didn’t want to go any more.
That was our first argument; she accused me of treating her like a new toy. I didn’t know what she was talking about and I started to worry that she was already becoming too much like Nat. Always criticising and putting words into my mouth. The arguments got worse and she started going out more and more with her friends. I told her it had to stop. We were a couple and couples did things together. That’s when she called me a boring old fart and packed her bag.
I wasn’t too upset at first, I mean I’d got the flat and it would be good to be on my own, find out what I really wanted out of life. Trouble was, after a couple of weeks, I realised I didn’t like living on my own. I’d stay for that extra drink after golf but the other lads would have to rush off to their wives and kids. Staying out late is not that much fun when you’re on your own. In the end, I sort of lost my enthusiasm for socialising, preferring to stay in with a DVD and takeaway, just like me and Nat used to do.
Maybe that’s what got me thinking about her so much. I became obsessed by what I’d thrown away. She has her faults, I’m not saying she’s perfect, but me and Nat had a good life. A nice house, a routine, good holidays twice a year. I started to think maybe I was an idiot for expecting there to be more.
That’s when I decided to call round and tell her how I felt. Tell her I’d made a mistake, been an idiot but I wanted my life back. My old life, the one I had with her. I hadn’t phoned first because I’d been scared if I didn’t just do it I’d lose my nerve. I don’t know why but it never entered my head that Nat wouldn’t be home. I’d been imagining her often enough, curled up on the sofa, in her favourite cardi and stupid furry animal slippers, watching telly.
I’d just turned onto our road when I saw her coming out of the house. I panicked, froze, crouching out of sight behind the McCauley’s fence. Her hair looked a bit longer but she still did that thing with it, dragging it through her fingers in an attempt to tame it, even if it meant almost pulling it out at the roots. I love her hair, always have, but she never cares what I think. I smiled when I noticed she was wearing one of her cardies, but nothing could detract from the dress she was wearing underneath it. Nat never wears clothes like that; tight and showing off her body in the best kind of way. She looked sensational and she was wearing heels – Nat never wears heels, she always says they ruin your feet.
Then, just like that she was gone, disappearing around the corner to who knows where. I stood there for a few minutes not sure what to do. Now that I was so close to what we once had, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted Nat back. What if she’d met someone else though, someone who made her want to dress up and look sexy as hell?
And that’s how I found myself sneaking into my own house, hunting for clues about what’s going on in Nat’s life, because this is what I want. I want to live here, together like we were before and, once Nat realises I’ve made a mistake then surely everything will be okay. We’ll be able to get our old life back – won’t we?