Sally scrutinised the flowers again. They had a certain resemblance of the red roses in Mrs. Freeman’s garden across the road.

“Michael!” she exclaimed, trying to hide her smirk. He took two strides towards her.

“Sally, I love you. I just had to show you that somehow.” He held her by the elbow, pulling her in for a kiss. Sally hesitated. She couldn’t bring herself to do it. But Michael was her husband. Nothing odd about sharing a kiss with her husband. She leant in, and felt his shaking lips against hers. She noticed how different they were from Jack’s smooth, melting lips. But she still smiled as she tasted toothpaste and coffee on his tongue- not liquor. She was taken back to her wedding night when just as Michael was slipping off her stockings he paused suddenly and quickly ran out of the room shouting “just brushing my teeth!” with a frothy mouth. Since then she always liked kissing Michael best just as he got into bed at night, or early in the morning. The taste of mint always reminded her of him, and in recent times it was sentimentally hard for her to brush her teeth. Michael pulled her in closer and closer. Sally pulled away.

“You’re late!”

Michael rolled his eyes, but walked off to get his briefcase and car keys.

He came back and gave her a goodbye kiss.

“See you tonight” he said. Sally’s just about kept her smile from falling.

“See you”

 

As she watched Michael drive off she saw herself through a new light. She couldn’t’ see Jack tonight. It would have been more than simple to come up with a lame excuse as to why she wasn’t going to be at home tonight, but that wasn’t it. Michael was changing. He was coming back to the man she married, the man she fell in love with. She did want to be there when he fully returned. They could be happy, if both of them tried hard enough. Michael was trying now, and she had to try too. As she made herself some breakfast (simple buttered toast) she thought of Jack. What a poor, sweet man. She couldn’t just let him down like that. He was always so good to her, so willing to put his feelings on the line. He made her feel warm inside. But that ought to be Michael’s place. It will have to be.

She picked up the phone and dialled Richard’s number. She had decided on safe middle ground.

“Hello?”

“Richard? It’s Sally, I’m sorry for calling so early. It’s just that Mr. Cranford- Jack, left his hat here last night, and I was wondering on whether you’ll be a darling and be so kind to give me his address so that I might be able to drop it off when I go to do the shopping.” She said in her kindest voice, the one she knew Richard adored.

“Why certainly. It’s 21 Durham Drive. Say, what would you say about joining us for dinner sometime?”

“It’d be a pleasure.”

“Great! We’ll see you on Wednesday?”

“ Michael will be thrilled.”

21 Durham Drive turned out to be a cosy, clean white house surrounded by plush green bushes and trees. Right by the wide windows grew iris plants, blue and bold. Across the overgrown lawn baby’s breath and blue bells stuck out in drops of white a blue. The pots by the door grew delicate lilies of the valley. As Sally rang the doorbell she felt as if she was being swept into a mysterious new world. She immediately took a liking to the house. After a while the door opened and a busty, wrinkly coloured maid stood in that place, eyeing Sally up and down.

“Hello, I’m Sally White.”

“I know who you are.” She said, and took Sally’s breath away. Sally shivered invluntarily. What else did she know about her?

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