Looks can be deceiving, you say. Well, that’s as maybe, but on this occasion there could be little room for doubt. Deceit, there was; they weren’t even trying to hide it. But I was not the one being deceived. To be honest, it was quite embarrassing. True, I was the only other guy in the compartment, but I was only a couple of metres away from them and perfectly visible. They could have eased up a bit. Mind you, I didn’t find out about the deceit until the phone went off. Can’t even say ‘rang’ nowadays. They don’t make phones with rings any more. Some bloody pop tune, it was. Made a right racket. And he took his time answering.
“Yeh! Hi Gilly. That’s it, I’m on the train now. We just left Watford. I’ll be at the station in just over an hour. And I’ve got a big surprise for you. I hope you can make it to the station. Good. What’s that? Right, put her on. Hello pet! Yes, Daddy had a good conference. I met a lot of very interesting people. How’s school doing? Great! You can show it to me this evening. Right. Love you too, and love to Pete. Now, that’s not a very nice thing to say about your brother. All right, all right, I’ll talk to him when I get home. See you both at the station.”
“And the kids.”
With this they melted back into each other’s arms. In fact, they went at it harder than before with their mintues being numbered and all that. It even became quite pleasant to watch, but I’d better not go into too much detail. I wouldn’t mind saying I’d have swapped places with the guy any time given half the chance. But my romping days are long over and since poor Alice passed away, well things just haven’t been the same.
But I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the poor woman soon to be waiting on the platform. Looking after house and home, bringing up the kids, while hubby traipsed around the country in the company of his very fetching secretary. I wondered if that’s what it had been like for Bill next door. Was that why his wife upped and off one day when he was at work? There had been rumours, but I’m not one to listen to them; nor to spread them either.
About five minutes before our arrival the two somehow managed to extricate themselves from the entanglement they had wound themselves into and prepared to face the future without each other. Clothes were straightened, lipstick wiped away, and hair styles were restored to normal. To my surprise as the train pulled into the station, they both stood and made towards the door of the carriage. Surely, this was taking unneccessary risks. Even if the man’s wife didn’t know his secretary, she might begin to suspect something, especially if she saw the same woman accompany him each time. Although, I was supposed to be travelling on to Manchester, curiosity got the better of me. I pulled myself up and made my rickety way to the exit. I could always get back on the train a couple of carriages further down. The moment the train stopped, the man jumped down onto the platform and gathering his racing children into his arms turned back to the lady still standing at the exit.
“Peter, Susan, I want you to meet the lady who is going to be my new wife. She’s not going to replace your mum; no one can ever do that but she is going to do her best to erase all the hardship we’ve been through since your mum’s accident.”
There were hugs and kisses all round as the woman climbed down onto the platform. Soon the small party was joined by a small, somewhat shy-looking woman with a big smile on her face.
“And you must be Gillian. Gordon can’t stop telling me how lucky he is to have such a wonderful little sister.”