Chapter XX

So 2005 segued into 2006. The familiar problems of timing our time together got worse, not better. Sarah was a mum in the week, I was a Dad at the weekends. But there was a storm coming, one that I foresaw, but one that Sarah couldn’t or didn’t want to face.
After being married with kids for years, Monday to Friday on my own was at first, a strange experience. Married friends of mine would wink and nudge me asking me if I knew how I lucky I was. And then there were the offers of dates. Women emerged from nowhere. Smiles got wider and conversations in the precinct lingered. For a single man in early middle age it was like walking into a sweet shop. I had a pal who was in perma –date mode. He had a different squeeze every week. He would regale me and the lads with romantic grand guignol stories that would make my teeth itch. He procured his conquests from the internet. He was no watercolour himself and so his world wide web concubines I suspect, set their own quality control dials to somewhere very near zero .
But the thought of embarking on what can be loosely collated under the catch-all phrase ‘fun’ left me cold. There was only one girl for me.
We would have Sundays together when the kids were at their various activities. We were at our usual generic tax dodging coffee outlet when I suggested next Saturday night as a possible window of opportunity. Evan and Emily where away with Grandparents and so I was free. It was like observing one of those medieval planetariums where you turn a wheel and the copper planets revolve around a sun. it is only on very rare turns that the planets align perfectly, and so it was with the children, when one was out, the other was in; so a night when they were all catered for was rare. So the forthcoming Saturday was a precious window indeed. Unfortunately, Sarah defenestrated that idea with some worrying news about Mike, her ex.
“Saturdays are a no no from here on in?
“Why?
“I can’t trust Mike with Hannah any more. He’s getting worse.
Mike had a good job and was on the surface a normal middle manager type bloke. But like so many problem drinkers, he was a ranging sea of uncertainties, contradictions and frustrations that only in his covert, desperate drinking did he find relief.
The previous Saturday Hannah had found him comatose on the bed and had calmly rang Sarah to say that she couldn’t rouse her Dad. Fearful of the backlash if she confronted him, Sarah told Hannah to wait outside while she sped round to pick her up. Torn between the desire to have even a tiny amount of free time and the guilt of leaving her with Mike, inevitably she chose caution and so we were on the back burner. Again.

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