tagNovels and NovellasDid the Moon Smile?

Did the Moon Smile?

byMoondrift©

"Troubles when they come, come not single spies, but in battalions."

Chapter 1. Storm.

Margot sat staring sightlessly before the large picture window in the lounge. Big black clouds were rolling in from the sea. The atmosphere was oppressive and the town waited for the storm to break to bring relief to the sweltering populace.

Lightening ripped the air with increasing frequency and as the storm grew closer so the accompanying thunder increased in volume and immediacy. As the clouds came over the town it began; first the violent wind, then a torrential downpour.

It was mid afternoon, but across the town it was as if night had descended. The lightning sizzled and crackled and the thunder roared right overhead, but Margot sat as if she was a statue, making no move to turn on a light and seemingly unaware of nature's violence just beyond the window.

As the rain lashed against the window, sending cascades of water coursing down the glass, the tears began to stream down Margot's face; silently at first, then with increasingly heartrending sobs, Margot wept.

After a few minutes she seemed to slide from the chair she was sitting on, and fall to her knees. Then through the choking sobs came the words – words that seem to be torn from the depths of her being.

"God what did I do?" she moaned. "Why, why, why? Where did I fail? What did I not give that I should have given? If you are punishing me then tell me what for. What wickedness have I done, or are you just a scourging God, striking out at us for the fun of it? You're an evil God...oh God help me...help me."

Margot collapsed in a crumpled heap and the storm that raged outside matched the storm that seethed within her.

Just three hours before Mark had come home unexpectedly from work. Without preamble he said, "I'm leaving you Margot. You can cry and scream as much as you like, but I'm leaving."

At first Margot had thought he was joking; not a very tasteful joke, but still a joke. Then she realised and began to question Mark ever more frantically. What had she done? Why was he leaving? Where was he going?

She became ever more hysterical, begging and pleading, but Mark was adamant. He was leaving her for another woman. They had been having a sexual relationship for some months and now he was going to live with her.

Mark had put together a few of his things saying he would send for the rest of them. As he made for the door Margot had still been pleading, clinging to him, telling him she loved him, wanting to know where she had fallen short.

Mark had shrugged her off, refusing to discuss anything. She could have the house and the second car, he didn't care, and he would make her an allowance. Then he strode out.

For a long time Margot sat before the picture window staring out unseeing at the storm. Her thoughts were a crazy jumble as she tried to understand what had happened and in the midst of this and under the influence of years of routine, she began to wonder what she would give Mark for his dinner that evening.

But Mark wasn't coming home that evening or any other evening. She wouldn't hear his car pull into the drive and then his footsteps and the door opening and his cry, "Home darling." She didn't even know where he had gone or the woman he had gone to be with.

Sixteen years of marriage seemed to have all gone for nothing. All the love and caring had been wasted. In bed she had never refused Mark; not that she had ever wanted to refuse being a very libidinous woman.

True he had in recent months rung her to say he was "working late" but...of course...why had she never suspected? The apparent fall off in Mark's sex drive she had put down to the "working late," and yes, it was that, except it wasn't the sort of work she was supposed to have thought it to be.

Margot dragged herself up from the floor. The storm outside was passing, but the storm within her still went on. She suddenly felt sick and raced to the toilet and vomited. When she finished she washed her face then without thinking dragged herself into the bedroom and dropped down on the bed.

The tears came again; the bed where they had made such love and so often until recently she would now occupy alone in the long nights. Even now she felt his kiss, the touch of his hand on her breast and then his gentle stimulation of her clitoris.

"Made love! Yes, perhaps that is what it was. The child I have never been able to conceive; the child Mark and I had wanted so badly and tried so hard to...the new woman! Would she give Mark a child?"

Exhausted by her vomiting and emotionally drained, Margot breathed out, "Mark...oh Mark..." Then she slept to dream of standing frightened and alone on a column with a storm raging round her.

Chapter 2. Awakening.

She slept on through the afternoon, the evening then into the night. She did not wake until nearly ten o'clock the next day. It was as if her psyche had been defending her from the pain she would have to face when she awoke.

Still fully dressed and lying on top of the bed covers she at first did not know why she was there and how she got there. Then with Mark's place in the bed unslept in, she came to full consciousness and the realisation of what had happened. She lay very still, not sobbing, but with tears streaming down her face. She didn't want to get up, eat or wash, but bowels and bladder made their needs known, so she was forced to rise in the end.

She made the effort to shower but did not eat. At first she wandered aimlessly round the house, so much of its contents reminding her of Mark. His golf clubs, fishing gear, and the room he used as a study, his computer and most agonising of all, the clothes he had not taken with him still hanging in the wardrobe; so much of Mark still there.

She felt a terrible weariness so she took to the bed once more. She still struggled to come to terms with the fact that Mark would no longer be there with her, but while rationally accepting this, emotionally it was still not real for her.

She began harrowing her self again with the question, "Why?" Where had she failed? She thought she had given herself completely to the marriage; was there something she had missed, something she had done or not done?

Then as hope seems to rise up in people even when there is in fact no hope, she began to tell herself that Mark would come back to her. One day soon he would come in through the door and beg her to forgive him. It had all been a terrible mistake and it was her he really wanted. This other had been a mere passing fancy that he had foolishly succumbed to.

She would forgive him and take him back. She would understand, telling him that such mistakes happened in life. Of course she would forgive him; didn't she love him and isn't forgiveness one of love's great gifts?

Deep down she knew this was a futile delusion but in the torment she was suffering she had to cling to it.

Her body and mind were merciful to her, giving her snatches of oblivion as she slept again, dozing on and off for some hours.

She rose in the late afternoon. Her body was demanding sustenance and she made an effort to prepare and eat a simple sandwich. She ate it sitting where she had sat the previous afternoon and beyond the picture window the glorious day - a day of light and silver glistening sea, the gulls swooping, their screams faintly heard through the glass.

She saw but did not see. The day might just as well have been as black as the previous afternoon. For a moment she thought of the tablets in the bathroom medicine cabinet, then the cliff top where the incoming waves boiled below. The thought passed, but it was to return again.

Chapter 3. Defiant Spirit.

It returned when a few days later the telephone rang and she heard Mark's voice on the other end of the line. He was sending someone to collect his things, would she mind packing up his clothing and pointing out to them where his other things were?

Almost by reflex action she began the packing; folding his clothes with loving care as she had done so often before when he went away on business. The van came with two men. They left with Mark's things.

Empty space in the wardrobe; empty draws; a study without desk, computer or book cases. The house, empty of all that had been Mark except for her memories; then the thought of suicide again.

There is in human beings a spirit of defiance that given the right thrust can rise up and make us strong in the face of adversity. It was in that moment this spirit rose up in Margot. She suddenly had a blinding vision of the fool she had been.

"Damn him," she thought, "he walked out on me without even giving me a reason. He hadn't even got the guts to come and collect his own things and face me, and I was stupid enough to get them together for him. He tells me he's leaving me, walks out, and he wants me to be his servant doing his bidding; never again."

That began the first tiny step in Margot's recovery. There was still more grieving and weeping to come, but never again the thoughts of suicide.

The one person Margot told of Mark's leaving her was her friend Celia. For a while Celia was helpful and sympathetic, listening to Margot say the same things repeatedly, but then she began to withdraw. As the story got around the town about Mark leaving the women seemed to steer clear of Margot.

She began to feel that people were secretly mocking her. Some of them knew that Mark had gone up north with a girl nearly half his age. It was Celia who told Margot this detail. Celia, who was Margot's closest friend, who had comforted her, even she seemed almost pleased to bring the news.

It is a sad reflection on us that we so often rejoice in the misfortunes of others even as we seek to console them. It is as if we feel superior to them because the misfortune has not fallen upon us.

The truth was that Margot was an exceptionally attractive woman, and there was a streak of jealousy in the other women because they could not match her good looks. At social gatherings they had not failed to see their husbands glancing frequently and surreptitiously at Margot, and now being an unattached woman, she presented a danger to her friends and acquaintances.

Margot might have got a clue to the problem when a couple of her female acquaintance's husbands came knocking at the door, offering to be helpful with any little jobs she needed to have done. These offers were accompanied with the suggestion that they might have "a meaningful relationship."

Margot was in no mood to have a meaningful relationship or any other sort of relationship. Her sensual self seemed to have gone into deep freeze, but the other women did not understand this and kept her at a distance as a potential husband stealer.

So Margot found herself increasingly isolated from old friends and acquaintances, her social life fallen to zero.

Chapter 4. The Road to Life.

Mark's promise to send her money was kept. In fact he was more generous than she had expected him to be. "But he can bloody well afford it," she said to herself, "and I bet it's really conscience money." The money came to her direct through the bank so she got no clue as to where Mark was.

Having discovered that any help given to her by the philandering husbands would be at the cost of opening her legs for them, over the next weeks and months Margot started slowly to become her own woman. She learnt the simple arts of mending a fuse and unblocking a sink waste pipe. The garden that had always been Mark's province became hers.

With each new victory she came to think a little better of herself. She ceased trying to find the faults in herself that might have led to Mark's departure. If it was her inability to get pregnant, then there was nothing she could have done about it.

Tests on her had of course been done and revealed nothing was amiss. Mark too had been tested and he had told Margot that there was nothing wrong with him and his ability to impregnate.

A year after Mark's departure Margot was, as they say, "Getting on top of things." She had seen and heard nothing of Mark except that she had to sign some papers transferring the house fully to her. This had been carried out in a solicitor's office in the town.

She now began to think beyond her immediate environment. She had been part way through a university course when she had thought she was pregnant. Mark had said, "Chuck the course in, it's only Classical Studies and there's no money in that. I can make all the money we'll need, I'll look after you." They had married.

So Margot had dropped out of university to become what used to be called "a housewife." Her pregnancy had proved to be a false pregnancy. Now she began to wonder if she could pick up where she had left off all those years ago. The university was on the side of the city nearest to the beachside town she lived in. It would be no more than half an hour's drive each way.

She made enquiries and ended up getting some credits for her previous studies; not as many as she'd hoped for, but enough to encourage her to go ahead with the course. She did in fact make some changes in the subjects she had originally taken since she had some thoughts fermenting in her head about what she might like to do in the future.

With some solid goals in mind Margot flung herself into her studies. At first she had pictured herself among a lot of teenagers and early twenty years olds. She was relieved to see that she was not the only "mature aged student" around the university.

As well as embedding herself in the studies Margot did a little socialising as well. It was not a great deal, just chatting with other students in the university café or between lectures. The younger students had more time for socialising and going out together, Margot still had her home and garden to care for.

One particular student she came to know quite well. He was a cheerful young man who had come into the city from some remote township and he was staying in a student hostel. The hostel happened to be a place Margot passed on her drive home. When their lecture times coincided Margot gave the student, Alex, a lift to the hostel and when feasible picked him up on her drive in.

During the ten minutes they were together in the car Alex would chatter about his home town, his parents and his brother and two sisters. Margot did not say a great deal and certainly did not mention her broken marriage.

Since there had been no divorce she still, more out of habit than anything else, wore her wedding ring. Alex had noted this and at first called her "Mrs. Parker." He was quickly told to call her Margot.

The hostel, Margot noted, was a great barracks of a place. It had been a psychiatric hospital and being abandoned was now used by a number of students during the university year that came in from distant places.

She asked Alex what it was like living there, and he had shrugged and said, "Oh, its okay, I suppose. Would you like to come in and have a look?"

The barrack like exterior clearly indicated what one would find behind it. There was a typical institutional air about it, impersonal and lacking many of the facilities that most of us look for these days. It smelt of carbolic and washing seemed strung on lines all over the place.

Chapter 5. Margot Suggests.

After this visit a little scheme began to germinate in Margot's head. She went about it slowly. On their drives home and talks in the café Margot began to search out Alex a little more, and getting the sort of responses she hoped for, put a proposition to Alex.

"Alex, I've got a house that's about three times bigger than I need. I've been wondering, how would you like to come and live there?"

They were sitting outside the hostel in her car, and for a moment Alex said nothing. He simply sat there staring at her.

"Alex," Margot went on, "it's only a suggestion. It seems a pity for me to have so much space and you living in that little room. I mean, it might be a lot pleasanter for you."

"Ah, yes," Alex said doubtfully. "The thing is, could I afford it? I don't have much money, you know, only..."

"Well, that's the next point, Alex. How would you feel about paying for your board by doing some gardening and odd jobs around the place?"

"I...er...but it'd be farther for me to get to the university and..."

"Look Alex, we both have to go into the university every day. If our times don't coincide, there's always the library we can use if we have to wait for each other."

"Yes...I suppose...Do you think we would get on all right with each other? There's...well there's a bit of a...we are slightly different..."

"Generations?"

"Yes."

"The point is, Alex, do you want to give it a try? It won't be set in concrete and if it doesn't work, all right, you can go back into the hostel. You would be better off this way financially because you won't have to pay anything for board and now you do have to pay a hostel fee."

"Yes. What does Mr. Parker think about the idea?"

That question rather rattled Margot for a moment; she hadn't given that aspect any thought. She did not go around parading the fact that her husband had left her, but now she would have to tell Alex.

"I live alone, Alex."

"Ah."

"Does that worry you, Alex?"

"I...er...no...do you mind if I think about it – just overnight."

"Of course not; I'd rather you be as sure as you can be about it."

"Well thanks for the offer, Margot. See you in the morning."

He got out of the car and disappeared into the barracks.

Margot drove the rest of the way home wondering if she had done the right thing.

"Suppose he thinks I'm trying to...no, he wouldn't think that...it'd be too ridiculous. Well, we'll see in the morning."

That night Margot was restless. She couldn't help wondering if she'd made a fool of herself making the offer to Alex. As so many of us do when we make an offer to someone and it is not immediately accepted, she felt she had made herself vulnerable.

It is like when we say to someone, "I love you," and that, after all, is one of the most courageous things we can say to another, and then that love is rejected or not reciprocated. Then there is pain and humiliation because we have opened ourselves so fully to another.

She began to get visions of Alex telling the other students; "Do you know what the she said to me?" And when he told them they would laugh and make crude remarks.

"She's feeling horny and looking for a bit of young cock in her." "She's just looking for a good screw."

Margot felt herself flush at the thought of it. They would whisper behind her back, and knowing something of young men she thought they might start making suggestions to her; trying to see what they could get out of her.

She finally managed to go to sleep, but was dreading the morning and picking up Alex.

Chapter 6. Margot has Company.

Alex was waiting for her at the curb side. Margot tried to read his face before he even got into the car. It seemed to betray nothing. Once in the car Alex, in the manner so typical of him said simply, "Thanks Margot, I'd like to accept your offer."

Margot felt a wave of relief pass through her. Her fears dissipated, and even if remarks were made behind their backs, it would now matter little.

"Wouldn't you like to see the place before finally deciding?" asked Margot.

"No, that's all right," replied Alex with a grin, "If it's anything like you it'll be fine."

It was Wednesday and it was arranged that Alex would move in on Saturday. Margot was to pick Alex and his things up at the hostel and take him home.

For the remainder of the week there was an atmosphere of excitement between them. Margot tried to describe the house and what would be Alex's share of it. She had still not been able to bring herself to use Mark's study, and instead had set up her study in a spare bedroom. Alex was to have what had been Mark's study.

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