Grace Harkness was steeling herself for another stretch of #solosuppers.
At the bottom of her whitewashed stairs lay the flotsam of parenthood: folded footsie pyjamas, sippy cups, desiccated comfort bunnies, orphaned shoes and snack boxes with cut grapes and nut-free bliss balls. Next to them stood a stout black carry-on suitcase.
This would be Greg’s sixth trip in as many weeks. Her husband’s boarding passes listed Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, Jakarta, Manila and now somewhere else entirely. It was hard to keep up. Thank god for ‘Find my friends’ on Grace’s phone.
‘Find my spouse’, more like it.
Grace tried to swallow the sudsy backwash of a Rennie. She’d taken it in the vain hope that the antacid would quell the upheaval she felt. Somewhere in the kitchen, there was a cup of tepid Earl Grey tea. Making tea was an act of optimism. Perhaps today she would get to drink it hot, she mused as she pulled out the sodden teabag and traipsed it over to the bin.
This wasn’t what she thought motherhood would taste like.
Grace spied a glimpse of her face in the hall mirror as she caught Greg at their jaunty yellow front door. Her angled cheeks were Roquefort green and her upper lip was beaded with sweat. She reached for his starched French cuff.
Her spouse of ten years recoiled. ‘Grace, you look terrible. Do you guys have gastro again? Because I’ve got two presentations tomorrow, so, can you maybe keep your distance …’
Greg kicked aside a piece of Lego with a practised sweep. His mind had already checked into the pinstriped civility of the airport lounge, with its calming click of keyboards and the gentle clink of cutlery slicing through poached eggs and sourdough toast.
They needed to have a conversation…