Doris left nothing to chance. The notion of leaving had gradually settled upon her and she found it hard to pinpoint the moment when it seemed not only possible, but necessary, to get out and have a life of her own.
Recently she’d laughed out loud when they’d watched an ad on the tele about claiming back your life by buying some face cream. Bob had raised an eyebrow and thumbed the volume button on the remote control to a louder pitch to prevent any conversation. He never was one to ask questions that he mightn’t like the answer to. But she could see the appeal in casting aside the daily cares and worries of life, though she knew that a jar of face cream wasn’t the answer.
Bob was fond of saying that she couldn’t organise a chook raffle in a pub, and he seemed to take delight in pointing out her failings to their extended family and friends. Early on she’d realised that there was no point in challenging him. After all these years, he’d created a version of her that was vaguely inept. To hear him talk, it sounded like she needed constant supervision to simply get through the days.
When Bob announced on his 64th birthday that he would be retiring in 12 months, she was galvanised into action. She had some savings from the part-time job she’d had since the children had left school, and she started taking any extra shifts on offer. Bob had grumbled at first, but she made sure that there was always a meal in the fridge ready for him to heat up if she wasn’t home before 6 pm. Bob had a rigid schedule and Doris was well trained in keeping things running smoothly in the background.
Throughout Bob’s retirement party, Doris spoke brightly of travel plans. Bob had been droning on for years about travelling around the country in his restored FJ Holden. There was no way she’d be riding shotgun on that road trip, but it was his big day, the culmination of decades in the public service, and she wasn’t going to ruin it for him.
It was enough to know that when Bob woke on the first day of the rest of his life, she would be gone. Doris had packed the clothes she would need and filled a Roses chocolate tin with her treasured items. The rest, she could leave. The letter to Bob was already written and tucked into the breadbox where he’d find it when he went to make his toast for breakfast. After a few too many beers tonight, he wouldn’t miss her in the morning. She’d already told him that she had to be off early, and he’d assumed that she’d be working. He hadn’t asked, and she hadn’t said.
I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find out more about the challenge, join in and read other posts here.
Photo: old Holden sign spotted at Portland, NSW