Friday, 20 March 2009
An Elephant Never Forgets
She dressed carefully, choosing items that held no memory of him; garments purchased alone. It was cold outside and she looked at the green hat and scarf he had given her for her birthday the previous month and was about to succumb to wearing them when the ring-tone on her mobile telephone; an inappropriate bawdy tune jostled her awareness. She looked at the number displayed on the screen; it was him she tossed the ringing device onto the bed and looked for something warm to wear. Her eyes fell upon a multi-coloured striped woollen hat; she remembered the hat it had been given to her three years earlier by her friend Susan, the same friend that had offered her sanctuary and a shoulder to cry on. The telephone stopped ringing, she knew without looking that it had automatically diverted the caller to her voicemail. She looked around the room for the last time, half smiling as she remembered the day they had purchased the large Monet print that hung above the dressing table, she let a small sigh escape as she picked up the small pewter elephant from the bedside cabinet on his side. She rolled it around in her hand enjoying the smoothness of its touch, “Sod it.” She said as she traced her finger down the elephant’s spine from trunk to tail, “I’m keeping this.” She picked up the mobile telephone and along with the elephant dropped it into her handbag.
She looked over at the pile of clothes; his clothes that now lay ripped and tattered upon the bed that they had shared and she smiled, this time it was a full smile, one that made her feel better, one that made her fell the destruction of his garments was justified. The cold November wind bit into her cheeks as she walked away from the house she had shared with him for the past two years, a buzzing sound from within the confines of her handbag told her that her voicemail had received a message. As she arced around the bend in the road she wanted to stop walking, she had a desire and look back at the house but something willed her on, spurring her forward and away from him.
As she walked away from the ticket clerk who had bade her have a lovely day; something she clearly wasn’t having she growled at a young man lounging against a display advertising cheap train fares to London as he rolled himself a skinny cigarette, he looked up briefly bemused by the woman who muttered something indiscernible as she passed by and in an instant she was forgotten as his attention was again directed towards his cigarette. She looked inside a carriage with a young couple that seemed to be trying to suck the life out of each other as they kissed and another containing a young mother with a mewling toddler; she opted for the couple thinking that last thing she needed today was a two hour train journey with a noisy infant. Her telephone started to ring again, she retrieved it from her handbag and pressed the button that sent the caller directly to voicemail, she knew within seconds she’d receive the buzz again saying another message had been stored. How many times had he called now, five or six? She didn’t care, not after seeing him with her, sitting there laughing as they shared two cups of coffee, there was no mistaking the embrace she had seen them share, the embrace that indicated that the two of them had a deep love for each other and there was also the gloves sitting on the table in the hall, her table but not her gloves, tan coloured gloves that clung to a faint smell of perfume, not her perfume but her perfume. Her home had been witness to his indiscretions and now she knew she had to leave. She had walked this road before; men always seemed to let her down, but she thought he would be different to the others. He was different, he was caring and quiet, he valued her opinion, he made her laugh and cry at the same time, he treated her with respect and then he cheated on her. The telephone buzzed and she looked at it disdainfully and then looked out of the window as the Lincolnshire countryside raced by in an autumnal blur, she looked inside her handbag for her cigarettes, then remembered she had quit seven months earlier; how he had supported her through that agonising period of withdrawal and ill temper. She picked up the telephone and pressed the keypad with the envelope icon printed upon it and an electronic voice told her she had five messages. Message one buzzed inside the earpiece, it was him; he sounded excited as he asked where she was and why she wasn’t taking his calls and then the following sentence made her eyes widen, what had he said? She ended the call and re-dialled immediately, her brain skipped past the automaton delivering her message quota and his excited questioning, then she heard him say; “You’ll never guess who turned up today?” She skipped to the next message once again he sounded excited but this time he told her something that made her almost stop breathing, after the message ended she disconnected the telephone and just looked straight ahead at the back of the seat in front of her, her gaze frozen as her mind spun; each thought separate yet intertwined like clothes bouncing around inside a tumble-dryer.
After several minutes she shook her head and picked up her telephone and pressed the button that opened up her contacts list, she scrolled down to the name of her friend Susan and pressed the send key and waited for the line to connect. “Hi Susan.” She said, “I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life.” Susan interjected but nothing was really said and she was asked to remain silent. “Say nothing, just listen. I have just picked up my voicemail and it was him; yes he was with another woman and yes she had been to our home.” Again Susan intimated that she’d like to speak and again she was silenced. “It was his sister.” The silence felt like a knot in the pit of her stomach, then all Susan said was “Oh my god.” “He said she’d remember. He told me his sister wouldn’t miss his fortieth birthday no matter how far away she was. He told me she had promised that she would come from wherever in the world she was to be with him. She’d even sent him a pewter elephant from South Africa to remind him of her promise.” She disconnected the call and removed the pewter elephant from within her handbag, she pressed it against her forehead letting its coolness envelope her and as the tears began to sting her eyes she pressed the delete button to remove all the messages from her telephone.