Here, now, every day, I know that you are safe. (But I don’t say that to the children. They have their own theories.)
I no longer answer the door. But I am ready, at all times. I will not let myself go like other women. The ones who cover their heads, march down to the shore, and berate the fishermen as they land the catch. I’ve watched them from the picture window at the front of the house. They’re too far off for me to catch more than snatches of their words, but I can see everything from here. Would see the yacht coming a long way off, watch it cleave through the water, so elegant. Would know when it was time for me to loose my hair down my back and stretch out for you.
‘Will you just come and look at this, Maisie.’ Sunlight glinting off the fresh paint. Pride shining on your face.
The whole town watched as you set sail. (The children too, albeit reluctantly, always wanting to be off somewhere, asking why it took so long.) Sea as calm as the water in here.
‘It’s too calm,’ you said. ‘Wind in our sails, we need, Maisie.’
Silly me, I knew why a yacht has sails. I’d watched you raise them, mainsail, jib, rippling up, pulling taut. I’d watched you slacken the rope, slowly unwind it from the cleat, drop it onto the deck with barely a sound. I’d watched you go. And the rest. All shouting words of encouragement and promises to meet in a bar in Rio, or Santa Cruz. Places that will never be more than names to me. Places where I know there are other women, but I won’t ever see their faces, their smooth skin, the twining of limbs taut against your muscles and the release afterwards. So I don’t torment myself, or not for long. Because you come back. Always have.
I ordered the yacht from an online site. There were places I did not want to use. There are warnings of scammers every day. This place had credentials, I double-checked before I paid the money. The delivery was at the exact time I had been told. Silly me to be surprised at the size of the box. It came fully assembled. As requested.
It slid into the water like a dream. I had worked out exactly how to do it. The house is, after all, my domain.
‘You’re a good little housewife, Maisie.’ You’d said that when we were first married. I didn’t complain about the word ‘little’. It actually pleased me. I’d always craved a space I could fit into and you gave me that. So why would I deny you your wanderlust? It was a fair exchange. (The children have other words, but I bat them away.)
At first I checked every hour, but now I just look morning and evening. (When the children are out.) You have what you need in there. And I am ready.
Cath Barton (she/her) is an English writer living in Wales. She is the author of two novellas: The Plankton Collector (2018, New Welsh Review) and Inthe Sweep of the Bay (2020, Louise Walters Books). Read more about her writing on her website https://cathbarton.comShe tweets as @CathBarton1