Consequences of having Faith

  • 22 May - 28 May, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Early morning – the best part of the day, sanity before the chaotic madness. And today was starting off particularly well: twins were on a sleepover and my wife had stayed overnight at her friend Maria’s. Best of all there was no school today. The sun was filtering into the conservatory and, I had a brief delicious thought as to how we might spend the afternoon if we could just distract the kids for an hour or so.

When I first read the article I couldn’t believe it. Official cause of death was an ‘overdose’.

But I knew the real reason. I knew exactly when it had all began.

June, 2004. The day had started off badly. I had missed my usual 7.48 train after another savage row with Sarah over my ‘never being at home’. Then, when I finally managed to fight my way, it was standing room all the way from Milton Keynes to Euston. It meant that I couldn’t work on my presentation to the Board that was scheduled for later that afternoon. I’d set aside the fifty minute journey to finalise my strategy to persuade them not to make cutbacks in my section. I needed to be on top of my game!

The train pulled into platform 11 at Euston and I was propelled through the barriers inside a mass of humanity containing briefcases, folding bikes and rucksacks. I headed down to the Victoria line and managed to cram onto the third tube, absent–mindedly jamming my foot in the door to allow a black–haired girl with a red top and saucer eyes to board the train. After a brief eye–contact, she turned away and I was left looking at her green backpack.

Four stops later I hopped off my usual front carriage at Victoria and was first onto the escalator. I’d just put a foot on the bottom step when I felt a slight tug on my elbow. I looked around … it was saucer eyes. On second inspection she looked familiar. Had I seen her before?

‘I just wanted to say, sir, thank you.’

‘Err… okay. But what exactly for?’

‘For showing me kindness and holding the door for me. I’ve been in London now for over a week and nobody seems to have time for anyone else. Everybody is so rude and rushing around in a hurry.’

She spoke good English but with a heavy Spanish or Italian accent. The escalators moved slowly upwards and commuters pushed by us on our left: people rushing around; people in a hurry. Perhaps she had a point!

‘And where exactly is back home?’


So, I was wrong. She was from South America.

‘I’ve never been to Chile before, but I’ve seen them play in the World Cup.’

Her face broke out into a grin, showing dazzling white teeth which lit up her face. All in all it was a great combination: her eyes seemed to be boring straight into my soul.

By now we’d reached the top of the escalator and there was a brief awkward moment as if we were unsure what to do next. I’d just got my oyster card out of my back pocket when, on a Monday morning in June, she delivered a big surprise.

‘Say no if like, but do you want to have a coffee with me?’ She paused, ‘I don’t normally act like this, but you seem a nice person and you have kind eyes. My name is Pilar.’

I might seem kind, I thought, but I’m also married. Although it was she who’d suggested the coffee I suddenly felt disloyal. I’d never strayed in six years of marriage. Sure we’d had our ups and downs like most couples – more downs lately perhaps, but unfaithful? No way! What to do?

‘Great idea! I know a good Costas in Wilton Road.’ And that was when my life changed forever.

Coffee at Costas led to a walk along the southbank and then lunch on the Tattershall Castle riverboat. The ‘late train’ had turned into ‘sickness and diarrhoea’. They weren’t very sympathetic, but I didn’t care. I’d forgotten what a pleasure it was to discover someone else for the first time. I didn’t tell Pilar any lies, nor hold back on any truths. It felt natural. At three o’clock exactly, the precise time I should have been starting my career–defining presentation, I was, instead, I was spending my time with Pilar.

Her name wasn’t Pilar, it was Isabelle. She wasn’t a tourist either. She worked for the ‘Angel Eyes’ detective agency. She’d been hired by Sarah, convinced that I’d been having an affair. It was all the late nights I’d been doing recently. Late nights to save my career and the same late nights trying to earn enough money to pay for the treatment that was our last resort after trying for five years, to have a family.

‘How could you do it’, I said to Isabelle. ‘How can you live with yourself? I’ve never done anything like this before … wouldn’t even have dreamed of it if you hadn’t made the first move!’

At that point, I realised where I’d seen her before – the bus stop outside the Costcutters where I got my copy of the Independent every morning. She must have been working out my route to work, making sure she could approach me at the right place and time!

‘I won’t tell her if you like,’ she said, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. ‘This has meant something to me too. It shouldn’t have happened like this. You’re a good man and I’m sorry.’

‘You won’t tell her because I’ll tell her. I’ll tell her how she’s managed to wreck our marriage. I’ve never messed around.’

And then a curious thing happened. I began to feel sorry for Isabelle and, at the same time, anger towards Sarah.

I told Sarah everything and moved out later that night. My last memory was of her hysterically, clinging onto my arm. I shook her out of my life and slammed the door. The trust had gone. In a roundabout way she’d proved her suspicions. And I couldn’t live with someone who didn’t trust me. More to the point, I’d fallen for Isabelle. We were together from that moment on. She packed in her job at the detective agency and I lost my job at the advertising company. It didn’t matter, I would have resigned anyway. The money I’d saved for the treatment, my one real secret from Sarah, went to tide me over while I did a one year Teacher Training course.

These memories, fresh now, flooded back as I read the paper. I thought about all the good times we’d had. She had no close family living nearby. No friends to share her life. It seemed so sad. Well I had cared about her once. No, not cared.

I had loved her.

Sarah couldn’t live with it – childless, loveless and abandoned she had made her choice. I folded up the paper and headed for the door. As I turned, I saw Isabelle standing by a blue Mercedes. She was talking to a man and wearing a green backpack that I hadn’t seen for some time. She turned and walked back towards the house. She was smiling. Then, she saw me. And that was when the smile faded.-Anonymous