Niamh awakes in their dark bedroom. She feels the weight of Ben sitting on the corner of the bed, tying his tie, getting ready for another day. From the very start she has loved the heft of him.
It was at the afters of a wedding – a dancefloor full of leaping eejits air-guitaring to AC/DC momentarily parted, and there he was, sitting at a table on his own, looking at her, sitting at a table on her own. She smirked. He raised his eyebrows.
From then on, they were thunderstruck.
They danced that night to “A Wink and a Smile,” him tall and solid, and her fitting neatly into all his grooves.
Niamh had long known that she was prone to notions, so much so that she tended to get carried away with herself. In Ben, she found an anchor.
And she, in turn, offered him something that he could never have gotten on his own: bath bombs. His body was often in a ball of knots after a hard day running his own successful business. Niamh softened him. Often, literally.
But over the last few years his nine-to-five had turned to eight-to-eight, and then seven-to-whenever. Sometimes she only knew he was back when she was awoken by him sitting on the corner of bed in the morning, ready to go again.
She only found out how bad things had gotten with the business afterwards.
She awoke in her dark bedroom, swearing she could still feel his beautiful weight, and reached out for the corner of the bed, but there was no-one there.
It had been six years. She was able to cry now like a computer running a program in the background. She looked at the clock with watering eyes. A translucent three-thirteen, in harsh green. She hoped she wouldn’t be crying too long, because she had a big day tomorrow.
After she got the boys off to school, she was going to CityWest to speak at a conference for International Men’s Day. As she sobbed – being an excellent multitasker – she also rehearsed the start of her speech:
“My husband, Ben, was my hero, and I have wished every day for the last six years that he had let me be his…”
Samaritans – 116 123 or email@example.com
Pieta House – LoCall Helpline 1800 247 247