Jon is sleeping besides me. His rhythmic breathing and the warmth of his fingertips have been engulfing in the sweet daily routine of our nights since past four years. Jon is a baby and sleeps like one and the night he is up and bright past 11 PM is the night when there is a Manchester United game blaring through our television. Those nights are difficult because night is the only time that I truly feel alive and being almost alone in the house adds to the zest of it. Every night it is the same routine. Jon slips into his navy blue night boxers, oh yes; he does have a special pair of night boxers with little white birds on it. He cuddles up in our powder blue duvet, pleads me to run my fingers through his hair while I read my book as he dozes off in no time. Then I quietly squeeze out of his grip, place a pillow in his arms and tip toe out of the room, sharp at 11.43 PM.
11.43 PM. When did it all start? I do not really remember. But I remember my early romance with Jon. Our first night in our big house together with tiny peppermint candles all around us, our first grocery shopping trip to the biggest Tesco all the way in Slough and those heavy bags full of chips and frozen pizzas. I recollect our fight every night to dominate the right hand side of the bed and the long Sunday brunches and Sangrias on the deck. I recall the way Jon would be up every morning at 7 AM and the following peck and nuzzle on my neck that worked like an alarm clock. I remember the strong aroma of coffee drifting in the bedroom and my efforts to block it all out with my lavender-coloured pillow on my face. I still sometimes hear the rustling of the newspaper as Jon tries to catch up on his daily dose of news and I still smell his musky aftershave scent on my cheek, as he would kiss me good-bye for the day. My day would start at 9 AM with a grudge. The freshly brewed coffee would await me in the kitchen and my cereal would be sitting pretty on the dining table. Jon derived joy in readying such little things for me every morning and I loved being spoilt silly.
That day it all started the same way. I had my usual coffee and cereal and got into the shower. The day was grayer than a usual day in England and I decided to have a longer, lazier bath. Our bathroom was my favourite place of the house. It had the hints of the old English décor with intricate carvings and the bathtub could easily fit four. Jon and I had further decorated it in the shades of crème and dusty gold. I sat on my antique dressing chair while enjoying the lushness of our new foot rug. My feet sunk into the white velvet goodness as the sound of the gushing water falling into the tub complemented Catpower’s Sea of Love playing in the background. No deadlines, no phone calls, no articles and no mousy editor breathing down my neck. What a blissful day it was! After an elaborate shower, I decided to catch up on the latest season of Suits. I had heard that it’s getting better and a lazy, cold day to devour the entire season was a treat.
I was about to pop in the DVD when the old phone cranks up. Oh, how I hated that sound. I had requested, coaxed, forced and fought with Jon to get rid of the landline in this modern age of cellphones but the landline phone stayed with its ugly, blaring ring tone. I answered with an audible irritation in my voice.
“Is this House No. 34 on Montague Road in Twyford?”
I answer yes.
“I am calling from St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Mr. Jon Davis has been in an accident and this is the only contact information we have found on him. Does Mr. Davis live here?”
At that moment, the world seemed to have stopped and the only word resonating in my head was ‘accident’. After a lot of ‘hellos’ and ‘is any one theres’, I respond,
“Uh… Yes. My name is Sally and I am Jon’s partner. Ill be at the hospital in an hour.”
And, the next thing I know is that I am sitting besides the man I loved whose right side of the body was now paralyzed for life.
That was the last time that I had the lazy, luscious bath. Now, my showers are of hurried ten minutes, as I have to be at Jon’s side as quick as I can. I help him shower, get dressed, make his lunch and a pot full of coffee. I ensure his bedside is filled with his favourite books and magazines and I sit by his side all day long churning out articles after articles to get in as much money as I can. Do I ever feel the need to complain? Maybe… Do I have the time to do it? Definitely not. Our equation was bound to change from that fateful day onward. The morning neck nuzzles, the midnight romps, the swift exchange of kisses and all other kinds of physical intimacy are a thing of past. And is that what coaxed me into a double life of a cheating girlfriend? I guess so.
Every night at 11.43 PM I become a different me, a new me. A me that I do not recognize in the mornings. The me that I secretly hate but also love. Every night at 11.43 PM, I stealthily get out of our bedroom; take a quick look at myself in the mirror as a delicious wave of intrepidness washes over me. I take my laptop along with me and sit in the living room, light up a smoke and type in at sharp 11.45 PM…
“Hello Ryan. So, what does my tiger have in mind for his sex kitten, tonight?”