Usually, on waking, I find myself crushed on either side by Ivy and Alistair. Ivy migrates into our bed at some point during the night, even though I’ve repeatedly told her not to. Today was an unusual morning, in that I felt only Ivy’s small warm body pressed against me. She was murmuring in her sleep, her head pressed against my shoulder.
Rolling away from her, I registered the dent Alistair’s head had made on the pillow. A sharp burst of fury reared up inside me at the thought of him, then flickered and died.
As I got up and headed towards the bathroom, my hangover felt blurry. I padded down the hall, hands outstretched, as if walking through a snow flurry. After taking a long shower, I dressed and went downstairs.
I went into the kitchen and kissed Ivy, who was, amazingly, already wearing her school uniform. Constanza, in a low cut top featuring a diamante-encrusted lion’s head, was sizzling waffles in a griddle which I had no recollection of owning. Her skin looked as fresh and dewy as a rose petal, which was truly incredible, seeing as she’d spent all night dancing at a sweaty club. Or had she?
As Alistair dashed into the kitchen, I looked him over objectively. His broad shoulders really filled out his well-tailored navy suit, making him look powerful, sexy even. What was going on? Was that? Could it be? Yes, something was definitely stirring in my nether regions. A languid stirring, like a dozing cat rearranging itself on a windowsill, but still, a sign, maybe, that our marriage wasn’t quite dead yet.
Ivy shrieked, “Daddy!” before running over and hooking herself onto one of his feet, a habit she’d developed as a one year old, and which she was now a good twenty pounds too heavy for.
“Ah, Constanza!” Alistair hobbled over to where she stood at the stove, dragging Ivy along with him. “I really owe you one, big time.”
Looking up from putting waffles on plates and smothering them in blueberry sauce, she said, “I am happy to help out.” Then, as Alistair gave her a dopey grin, she slowly dipped her finger into the batter and licked off the pale goo. Cripes, Tanya was right. The woman really did have an oral fixation.
“Ivy, why you not get off your Dad’s foot?” said Constanza.
“No I won’t,” Ivy said. “I don’t have to do what she says, do I Daddy?”
Alistair wasn’t listening, he was too busy ogling Constanza’s behind, as she carried the plates over to the table.
“I can’t stand her,” Ivy whined, still shackled to Alistair’s foot. “She took the TV out of my room. And she says I have to get up and be dressed by seven. I feel like I’m living in a prism.”
“Don’t you mean prison?” Alistair said distractedly.
“No I don’t. I mean prism.”
“Don’t be a silly, Ivy,” said a smiling Constanza, evidently not noticing that Ivy had rapidly dismounted Alistair’s foot and thrown herself in her path. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her trip over Ivy, giving a high pitched scream as she tumbled to the ground. After the waffles had stopped flying and the plates had stopped shattering, Alistair was left looking down at the blueberry splotches on his white shirt.
Once Constanza had dragged Ivy upstairs, both of them splattered with blue clumps, I went up to Alistair, who was dabbing at his shirt with a dishcloth.
“You know I waited all bloody evening for you, don’t you?” I said, trying to keep calm.
He looked up at me blankly.
“The anniversary dinner I cooked for you last night? I left a message on your voice-mail and with your PA. Ring any bells?”
“Not really. I was too busy working from a client’s office to check my voice-mail, and Joanna didn’t pass on any message.”
“Or maybe you told her not to bother you if your wife called.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“I don’t think so.” I couldn’t really see any other explanation for his PA not passing on the message. “By the way, what do you owe Constanza for?”
“Oh, she walked in on me this morning while I was in the laundry room. I was trying to iron a shirt and making a pig’s ear of it. She offered to iron it, that’s all.”
“And you let her?”
“What was I meant to do, wake you up and ask you to do it?” He threw the dishcloth into the sink and walked over to the wall mirror. Taking a tie from his jacket pocket, he started to knot it over the blueberry-splattered shirt.
Despite the fact that something about Constanza ironing his shirt was riling me, I also felt guilty. I usually did his shirts myself. I actually find ironing quite therapeutic. But what with one thing and another, like spending too much time fantasizing about Irish hunks and not enough time fantasizing about bleach, I had recently gotten behind on the laundry.
“By the way, what time did you come in last night?” I said, narrowing my eyes at him.
“Two or three. I don’t really remember.” When he turned to face me, his eyes were blazing. “Honestly,” he hissed. “You wanted the fancy frigging house and the best school for Ivy and the exclusive gym membership you don’t use, and the holidays in Mustique. It doesn’t all appear out of thin air you know. I work. In a damn good job. And when the shit hits the fan, I’ve got to be there to unstick it from the fan.” He raked his fingers through his hair, so that it stuck up all over the place.
A cleaned-up Ivy had appeared at his elbow. “Daddy, you said a bad word.”
We both ignored her.
“I work too.”
He laughed. “Yeah, okay you work. Then let’s get a flipping cleaner in to do the laundry. We can well afford it.”
Constanza came up behind Ivy, handed her a Hello Kitty backpack and silently led her into the hall.
As soon as the door had closed, I let rip. “I’ll do my own washing, thank you very much. We had that cleaner, remember, and she buggered up my silk underwear, because she couldn’t be bothered to hand wash it.” I shook my head and shuddered. “I mean, how could she? Putting my silks in the machine, on a hot wash! And it could just as easily happen again.”
He barged passed me, saying, “Excuse me if I don’t have time to discuss your underwear,” and stormed out.
I hoped he had a clean shirt to change into at the office. But he probably didn’t. Because I’d got behind with washing his shirts.
He was heading off to the office wearing a badly stained shirt.
Why that fact should have made me feel impossibly depressed, I really don’t know. But it did.
Flipping heck, I’m so stressed out I could scream. I really need some pampering, any ideas?