Image: Envy © by Iza-nagi
Mary awoke the next morning to the sound of hammering. It took her a moment to realise it was coming from the new neighbours.
‘New people, new sounds, new things to be irritated by,’ she thought as she got up to start her day.
From her kitchen window, she could see a man sawing pieces of timber, and her thoughts went to when she and Ray moved into the house and spent the first few weeks making things the way they wanted them.
Everything was good back then, they were young, in love and enjoyed being together and creating something that would be their’s after years of saving and paying rent to landlords who never seemed to care what state of disrepair they lived in.
But Ray grew tired of her was the reasoning she had behind the demise of their marriage. She realised one day she had developed a nagging aspect to her character, and she disliked that about herself, But if she wanted things done, she did have to keep asking, as Ray liked being sedentary when at home.
Age didn’t help either of them. Health became an issue like when Mary had a cancer scare. It was just after her fortieth birthday and feeling in her prime this shook her to her core.
She was lucky being able to shake free eventually from its clutches, but it came at a price. Ray grew more and more distant. He stopped showing any interest in her sexually, and so long as she had a meal for him each evening, he seemed content.
They no longer talked over their issues as they once had, Ray started to work longer hours and took on more work as his Plumbing business became more and more profitable.
At the time Mary thought Ray was doing all he could for her, as she was very much incapacitated while undergoing treatment.
Then one day she noticed a series of invoices for a Maggie Jupp and began to wonder how much work he was doing for her. Then she accidentally picked up his phone one day and found messages from her that were far more than those of a client.
Ray dismissed her fears as trivial, he said Mrs Jupp had a big house and needed a lot of work to re-plumb her place.
She trusted Ray, even though she could see their relationship was changing.
As she sat with her morning cuppa, she thought about him and what she missed. The winter mornings when she would snuggle into him soaking in his warmth. Their mornings at the kitchen table discussing the day ahead.
What she didn’t miss was Ray’s drinking. Around the time of her cancer he started to go to the pub after work, she’d be waiting for him to come home in need of his attention and he’d come in, and the abuse would start.
The next day he would be his normal self with no memory of the hurt he inflicted the night before. When she reminded him, he would be apologetic vowing to never drink again. That promise lasted until the end of the day.
It was during one of these drunken rages he broke her grandmother’s vase. He didn’t remember that either.
By the time she finished her breakfast the hammering had ceased, and a quiet descended over the neighbourhood. She looked out again and couldn’t see any sign of life. She imagined they would be occupied unpacking boxes and putting their precious stuff away in cabinets to show off how well off they were.
Suddenly the man reappeared. His appearance surprised Mary, as he wasn’t dressed as an executive as she imagined but rather over sized shorts, a polo shirt and sandals. He drove off in his car, which didn’t look very executive either.
Rinsing her breakfast plate, she began to wonder about the first impressions she had, of her new neighbours.
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