“The circle of an empty day is brutal and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.”
Elena Ferrante – “The Days of Abandonment”.
She shut the novel she was reading and thought how the words summed up her life. As it was the novel’s tile, “The Days of Abandonment” seemed so fitting when she thought of the past few weeks.
She’d gone from the euphoria of being in love with a man she thought was the perfect one for her only to discover he was planning to leave her for a younger woman.
She’d thrown herself into the relationship; basked in the affection, he showed towards her and never believed there was any impediment.
When she thought about it, there had been a change in recent times. References to her losing her girlish beauty, the wrinkles around her eyes and neck and the one she now thought of as cutting, she had slowed down, and she knew it in so many ways.
She found herself sitting for longer, her morning walks she still did, but they were shorter, she found it easier to find an excuse for staying in bed.
Bed was where she found the space to be alone, her husband slept beside her, but their interactions were nothing like they once were. He snored away the night, rarely touched her and she began to feel as though she was more unsightly than she wanted to think about.
She blamed herself, her inability to care for herself, to attract her husband’s ire was a great disappointment to her, and she would resolve each morning to try and make it up to him.
But every attempt was met with derision. He laughed at her efforts to spruce herself up, told her, that her time had long past, and she should get on with more age appropriate things like her bridge and knitting.
She resigned herself to a life of sharing a house with him, but with nothing physical happening, she was she believed unlovable as she aged and took to staying away from him for fear she would attract his displeasure.
The ultimate feeling of emptiness in her life came when her husband undertook surgery on his shoulder and needed her assistance to shower when he returned home.
In order to do so, she undressed him and herself. They used to love showering together, but on this occasion, there was no response from him. His flaccid self was there on display and despite her soft talking to him as she lathered him and then rinsed his body he rebuked her by telling her to get on with it and get him out and dressed.
Devastated she never tried again. She continued to wash him but did so dressed and avoided any unnecessary contact with him, as he seemed to prefer it that way.
As soon as he was strong enough to manage by himself, he told her he didn’t need her anymore. He started to go out and stay out until late at night. He explained it all as receiving a better offer than hanging around the house with a tired out old crone like herself.
Then last evening he announced he was leaving for good. The news rattled her like nothing previous ever did. She thought he was joking, that he was just scaring her, but when he emerged with his suitcase she realised he wasn’t kidding around.
He left without saying goodbye and left her feeling shattered.
In the days that followed she felt doubly vulnerable at night, alone in a house that held so many cherished memories. Every creak of the floorboards, rattle of a window and ring of the telephone filled her with fear and dread.
She sat up in bed holding the novel she was reading reflecting on her abandonment and gasping at the feeling of emptiness gnawing at her heart.