5. Middle Ground

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Sally overslept. This unusual occurrence happened due to the surprisingly pleasant night she spent back in her own bed. Once Michael left there was nothing to stop her from spreading out across the whole bed in the shape of a starfish. Sally got up reluctantly. As she felt the sunshine hit her face, the way that she especially tried to avoid, she sensed a change in her mood.  There was no more sorrow, and any remains of it were smitten by anger. It felt good to be angry. She would go and see Jack today, and she wouldn’t feel guilty, and Michael will deserve everything that she does with Jack. Only once she realised that Amy was 30 mins late for school did she get up and charge out of her bedroom. Amy was not in her bed, neither was she in the bathroom, or any place upstairs.

“Amy!” Sally shouted as she wrapped her dressing gown around her, heading down the stairs.

“Amy!”

Michael appeared out of the kitchen doorway.

“She’s at school. I took her, I ..er.. I didn’t want to wake you up.”

“I don’t want you touching her!” Sally said spitefully, and even though it felt good, she was feeling the guilt of it already. It was quite a harsh comment, Amy was his child too. Michael’ face belittled. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked up at Sally who was standing on the stairs as if frozen in time.

“I know you think I went to the bar last night.” He started. Sally didn’t want to hear his excuses. She started heading down the stairs.

“Just hear me out. When you lied there next to me last night, I was happy, and I wanted to thank you. So I went out and...” He broke off in the middle of his sentence.

“And what?”

“I bought you some flowers. There. I know you like ‘em.”

“You went out in the middle of the night and bought me flowers?” Sally crossed her arms.

“Yes, is that so odd?”

Sally didn’t answer, but walked down the stairs and scrutinised Michael. He seemed clean, and he smelt of soap and morning. There were rings around his eyes, but they were much smaller than those after a night out, and his eyes were not red-rimmed either.

“Hmm.” She walked into the kitchen and spotted the dark red roses next to Jack’s chrysanthemums.

“Are those it?” she asked pointing at the bundle.

“Yeah, I was just about to put them in some water.”

Sally nodded as permission for him to proceed. She took a closer look at the roses. They looked pathetic against the glamorous, brilliant and fresh chrysanthemums. Pitiful really. And it made her heart cram. Yes, they were starting to look dead, with their limp and withering petals, but what could she expect, he went and got them in the middle of the night. The flowers of course had a completely bashful and nonsensical meaning of mourning, but he did his best. Michael returned with a vase full of water.

“Didn’t they come with any plant food?”

“Plant food?” Michael froze in his tracks.

“Yeah, they normally have a little packet on the side...” Sally searched around the brown paper in which the flowers were wrapped in.

“Erm.. I might have not exactly bought them...” Michael stood awkwardly with an undeniable smirk on his face.

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