No Way Out

Putting on my shoes again, I slipped out of the silent house, and retraced my steps to town. Kate’s light was on, and I hovered outside like a peeping tom, wondering if she was alone, or whether she would just slam the door in my face. We hadn’t contacted each other since that night at the club. No ‘phone calls, nothing.
“Knock, knock”
(silence)
“knock, knock.”
The door creaked open onto its restraining chain, and Kate’s cold eyes surveyed me through the gap.
“Oh, Steve…..what do you want?”
“Just to talk.”
“There’s nothing to discuss, Steve. Don’t make it harder than it already is.”
“Please……a few minutes won’t do any harm. I’m totally screwed up at the moment.”
“You look like hell.”
“I know.”
“A few minutes then. That’s all.”
The door swung back, and I trudged in, full of good intentions, but awash with self-pity; the most unattractive trait known to womankind. I gave a predictable dissertation about the state of my marriage, frustrations at work, the vileness of society and my regrets about our weekend away, but her eyes remained passionless and distant, as she tapped the table irritably, clearly waiting for me to end.
“Look Steve, I’m sorry about all this, but you already know what I think about it. You’ve brought a lot of this trouble on yourself and you just won’t bend. Maybe we could have had some sort of future together, but I know now you’ll never leave Carol, and you won’t compromise over anything else…….. We’re just prolonging the agony here.”
“You’re right…I know that…but I’m trapped Kate.”
She looked at me, and something like the old concern passed fleetingly over her face.
“You can sleep on the sofa tonight Steve, but that’s it. Then maybe you’ll accept that it’s finished, and we can both move on.”
(silence)
“Steve?”
“Okay…. Yes…thanks.”
She brought in a spare duvet, said a flat goodnight, and retired to the bedroom. The lock turned, which really hurt, and a few minutes later I heard her mobile playing ‘The Laughing Policeman’. A third of one side of the conversation made it through the acoustics of the wall.
“Sorry………..nothing I could do…………see you tomorrow.”
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