I have this thought as I watch him drive away in our Ford Falcon GT, hot off the production line. Our toddler waves goodbye from her vantage point on my hip, her pudgy fist opening and closing. She blows her daddy a kiss and rests her head on my chest, snuggling close.
We go inside.
‘Let’s have brekkie, shall we Judy?’
Her cherubic face lights up and I laugh, delighted with her, him and my life. I fill the Sunbeam electric kettle with water and press the button. Minutes later, its whistle lets me know the water’s boiling and my cuppa is just moments away.
I pour a few droplets of water from the kettle into Judy’s bowl, to soften and warm the Weet-Bix before adding milk. She’s in her high-chair, legs kicking with hunger and anticipation as I bring her the bowl and spoon. I sip my tea, watching her eat the sloppy cereal. Spoonfuls drop around her, and I reach for the paper towel to wipe it, lest it set like cement on my linoleum flooring.
‘Oh Judy, you’re a messy eater.’
She giggles, her legs stretch straight out, then bang against the chair’s footrest.
The unexpected trill of my doorbell startles me. ‘Mummy’ll be right back, Judy.’
It’s my neighbour, Marge, at the door. She’s a godsend to me, especially when Judy was first born. My own mother passed away ten years ago. If it weren’t for Marge, I know my first year of motherhood would’ve been quite different.
‘Fancy a cuppa, Marge? The kettle’s just boiled.’
‘Oh, Nancy, that sounds divine.’ She enters my home with brown grocery bags and places them on my faux-slate bench tops. ‘These are for you, Nance.’
Marge’s husband, Bill, is a store manager at the local supermarket, and at the end of each day brings home the unsold bread and milk. They scatter it amongst the neighbours, but Marge always makes sure I get the lion’s share.
‘Thanks, Marge. I’ll just pop the bread into the deep-freeze. Can you put the milk into the refrigerator for me, please?’ I walk outside to our free-standing galvanised iron shed, where Matthew’s tools, and bits and bobs lie untouched, and where my large square freezer hums loudly. I put the bread inside and follow the garden path past the Hills Hoist, and through the screen door into my kitchen.
Marge is busy chatting with Judy as she finishes the last of her breakfast.
‘Judy, girl. Gotta kiss for Auntie Margie?’
Judy nods obediently and Marge kisses her gently on the forehead; she is immediately rewarded with Judy’s wide toothy smile, complete with a mound of Weet-Bix sitting on her tongue.
‘Ah, theses are the good days, Nance. Enjoy every second. She’ll be twenty and out on her own before you know it.’
‘I guess,’ I respond. I’ve been feeling off lately. I recognise the symptoms, but I haven’t told anyone yet. Not even Matthew.
‘So, what’s new with you Marge?’
‘Nothing new in my old life, Nancy. Same old, day in, day out.’ She clears her throat.
Her eyes are narrowed, she’s staring over the top of her tea cup. A wave of nausea washes over me.
‘Bill told me to keep me mouth shut, Nance. But I can’t. I reckon it’s better you know.’
‘Know what?’ My tea sloshes inside me, threatening to rise up and out.
‘It’s Matthew. We think he’s been carrying on with Becky.’ Her bomb explodes around me, shattering the pleasantness of my life, my marriage, Judy and my unborn child.
‘You think? Or you know?’ The room is spinning fast and I’m dizzy. I want to lower my head on the table and leave it there. I don’t want to hear anymore.
‘I know.’ Marge comes to me and places her arm around my shoulder. ‘I’ve seen him sneaking out of there. Many times.’
Becky is our neighbour, about six houses down. She’s one of those single mums. Apparently couldn’t wait to leave her husband. It’s widely joked that hers was one of the first of the new no-fault divorce proceedings through the court system.
‘He might be helping her with stuff around the house,’ I say. It’s feeble, even to my own ears. Matthew doesn’t know how to change a light bulb.
‘Nancy, I’m sorry.’ She squeezes my hand, places her cup and saucer on the bench. ‘I’ve got to be going. We’ll chat soon.’
And with that, she leaves me to deal with the fallout. I run to the bathroom as my tea spills out. Bent over the toilet and retching, I can hear Judy screeching to be let out of her chair.