'The Death of Love' by Julie Lees



“She’ll be the death of you, one day!”
My mother’s words seemed to echo around the room. I’d dismissed them over thirty years ago with a slam of the front door after I’d walked through it, just as you did a few minutes ago. My mother and I never spoke again. I loved you, and that was more important to me than the claims of an embittered middle-aged woman, who no longer had time for her husband. Now, I know better. Now, I realise she could see in you what she’d witnessed in my own father. But I didn’t listen, and now I’m paying the price, just as she did when she died at the age of fifty-six, alone and penniless.
I can picture you now as you were then: hair the shade of roasted chestnuts, strawberry-blushed lips, legs well turned and lithe and adept at encircling my waist. But it was your shoulders that entranced me: porcelain-smooth and soft against the brush of my mouth.
Love, or should I say lust, does strange things to a man’s sense of reason. It warps his thought processes, strips him of logic and exploits his dick. Not that I was complaining. Not then, anyway.
It was great, for a while. I just hadn’t considered that the sex would seek an escape so soon after the marriage, closely followed in its wake by any leftover love. The bickering was itching to get started. We didn’t hinder it. “You said this …” was met with “But you said that …” until eventually neither of us said much at all, at least not to each other.
That was until today. Today I had a review at the bank. The kind where they try to sell you a more expensive account with lots of additional features you’ll never use. I’d avoided it for years, ducking their calls and destroying their letters and statements. It came as quite a surprise when they mentioned the regular withdrawals – small amounts, no more than £20 at a time, and not exceeding five per month – that had then been deposited in another account, going as far back as their records permitted. They can only speculate as to how long it had been going on before that. It came as quite a shock when it was revealed the account belonged to you and a final transfer made today had cleared the existing balance, wiping me out entirely. Imagine discovering that on your fifty-sixth birthday?
You were already packed when I arrived home, and unrepentant. Your thirty-year nest egg was about to buy you a better life, you said. I wanted to hit out, hurt you, but the pain in my chest left me hamstrung.
The chequer board floor felt cold and hard against my face as I listened to your car reversing off the drive. I could see a bottle top sitting upended beside the kitchen bin, a spattering of crumbs keeping it company. You could have cleaned up before you left.

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