Authors: Krissie LaBaye
IT MUST HAVE BEEN LOVE
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No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
As Angie rummaged around on the kitchen worktop struggling to find her keys, she caught a glimpse of the hands on her well-worn black leather wristwatch.
“Oh, look at the time. I’m going to miss the bus. That’s all I need, if I’m late he’s going to go on and on about it forever.”
The ‘he’ Angie was referring to was her husband, Christopher. Since he’d moved out six weeks ago, Angie had let the household chores get on top of her and the place was a mess. In fact it was probably a subconscious form of rebellion, as prior to Chris leaving he had developed a habit of always noticing the one thing that was out of place. Now he was gone, Angie could tidy up when she wanted to, and ‘so what’ if she couldn’t find anything she was looking for among the clutter. Finally locating her keys, Angie was forced to silently admit to herself that perhaps Chris was right after all, and that keeping the place clutter free was actually beneficial. Maybe he wasn’t quite so OCD as he had seemed in recent times, after all.
Into the bathroom, there was no time for the full make up. Going straight to the bathroom shelf, Angie frantically poked around her cosmetics bag for her trusty soft pink lipstick and black mascara. Moving on to the vanity basin mirror, a dot of lip-gloss on both cheeks served as make-do blusher, and a quick flick of the mascara comb was enough to liven up her hazel eyes. All that was left to do was run the hairbrush through the long locks, and she was ready to go.
Swiftly pulling on her red trench coat, Angie locked the door, and popped the keys into her bag. “Please let the bus be late this morning,” Angie whispered as she hurried along to the bus stop. The sight of several people already waiting there reassured her that the gods had answered her plea and she hadn’t missed the bus after all. This was likely to be the last marriage counseling session and she really didn’t want to turn up late. Knowing the way Chris was these days, he would be convinced that she’d shown up late deliberately.
Angie had reached the bus stop just in time. First came the unmistakable sound of the gritty engine, closely followed by the sight of the bus itself as it appeared from around the corner. Angie breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now she would make it in time, and wouldn’t have to endure the familiar scowl that Chris was so fond of giving her. Boarding the packed out bus, Angie made her way towards the back before finally spotting an empty seat. Although the journey should only take around twenty minutes, she didn’t relish the thought of having to spend the journey standing, especially as she was wearing heels.
Eavesdropping on her fellow passengers Angie soon learned why the bus was late. Apparently the police had been forced to set up a diversion after a traffic accident. Her initial feelings of relief that she wouldn’t be late for the appointment were overtaken by feelings of guilt. She realized it was thanks to someone else’s misfortune that she would escape Chris’s usual lecture about punctuality. Her thoughts moved swiftly to the people involved in the traffic accident, and she hoped that nobody had been seriously hurt, or worse still killed. Staring out of the grubby bus window, Angie’s mind wandered, as she began to ponder on how things used to be. She remembered times when Chris made her laugh over silly little things, and she wished she could turn back the clock to make things how they used to be.
She was thinking back to their wedding day and the vows they had made to each other. When they had married, she sincerely intended it to be for life and could never have imagined that one day she would be sitting on a bus on her way to try to mend their crumbling relationship. Angie had always believed that marriage was for life, and she wanted the same relationship that her parents had shared. She had grown up in a loving home, and apart from the occasional squabble her parents had, the atmosphere was generally happy. Doreen and Bill Aitken had always shown both love and respect for each other. They had reared three children, including their youngest child born on New Year’s Day 1972, Angela Aitken. Having given birth to two much-loved sons, Raymond and Jeffrey, the couple were overjoyed when their daughter was born. A daughter made their family complete and they knew instantly what they would call her. They had been blessed with an angel and so she was named Angela.
Last year, Doreen and Bill Aitken had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, and as the bus pulled into town, Angie regretted the fact that her marriage would probably never reach that milestone.
When the bus pulled into the bus station, Angie knew that she had ten minutes to maneuver her way through the crowded noisy streets and make her way to the counseling center. If she hurried, she might even get there before Chris. Then, so long as she got her breath back before his arrival, she could give the impression she’d been waiting for ages. Smiling to herself, Angie increased her walking pace to the limit she could manage in her four-inch heels. Pausing outside the familiar office block for a moment to catch her breath, Angie realized that she had been here every Thursday for the last three months. In this very building she had shared the most intimate aspects of her twenty-year marriage to Chris, with a woman who, up until three months ago, she had never met.
Margaret Wood may indeed be a marvelous counselor, but the weekly meetings with her had failed to produce a happy ending. It was now apparent that unless today’s meeting induced a miracle to occur, then it was probably time for everyone concerned to admit defeat. Heaving a big sigh, Angie pushed open the black tinted glass door of the Harmony Relationship Counseling Center. She fully expected to see a packed waiting room, and was surprised to see that the only person present in the room was the receptionist. For the first time, Angie noticed how big the waiting area actually was. The large burgundy upholstered sofas provided a comfortable seating area, but the banana yellow painted walls, which may well have been the idea of some trendy interior designer, did nothing to relax the waiting client.
Heading towards the reception desk, Angie followed the same weekly process. She knew the words that would come from the pretty receptionist’s mouth even before the receptionist said them. Although depending on the outcome of today’s appointment, this may be the last time she’d endure the trite ritual.
I’ve been here every week for the past three months, and every week she’s been on reception. Every time she asks me the same question, like I’ve never been here before. OK, so maybe she can’t remember everyone who comes here, but surely she could check the appointment schedule. At least if she pretended to remember me I’d feel like I was a valued client rather than a stranger
, Angie grumbled to herself. Seconds before reaching the desk Angie mentally reprimanded herself, telling herself that she was in danger of becoming a crabby complainer, the kind of person she least wanted to be.
“Morning, can I help you?” said the softly spoken receptionist.
“Angela Morris. I have an appointment with Miss Wood.”
“If you’d like to take a seat, she shouldn’t be long.”
With the receptionist’s invitation to take a seat, Angie smiled. The words had triggered a memory of Chris in happier times. It was one of his ancient jokes, and he utilized it whenever he was invited to take a seat. “Take a seat; OK, where would you like me to take it to?” he’d quip. Chris always accompanied his words with an impish smile, so as not to offend anyone; and most of the time his jokes were taken in good spirits, even if they were often a bit old and worn out. They used to laugh so much back then, but somehow life seemed to have stolen the laughter and replaced it with bad moods, bitching, and long periods of cold stony silence.
The sound of the door opening pulled Angie back from her daydreaming, and glancing at the large wall clock, she realized that Chris was uncharacteristically very late.
“Hi, Angela, if you’d like to come through,” motioned the confident Ms. Wood as she glanced around the otherwise empty waiting room, “Is Christopher not here yet? It’s not like him to be late.”
Margaret Wood had never been married, but had been a close observer of human relationships for most of her adult life. She had gained a broad knowledge over the years of the strange and often irritating idiosyncrasies of both men and women. Margaret seemed to know instantly which foible was particularly irksome to a partner and causing friction in the relationship. She also had the ability to make the offender address their ‘bad habit’ with just a long silent glance. However, acknowledging irritating habits was only the beginning, and deeper-seated issues were much harder to unearth. In Chris and Angie’s case, Margaret had tried her best, but was ready to hold up the white flag.
Angie rose from the comfy sofa and as she walked silently across the beige carpeted floor the telephone on the receptionist’s desk began to ring. Angie slowed down her pace so that she could hear what the receptionist was saying. She wondered if it was Chris calling to say he couldn’t make it, but soon realized that she was mistaken. Picking up her pace again she entered the consultation room and immediately caught the familiar whiff of the lavender potpourri, which always sat on the rich mahogany bookshelves. She waited for Margaret to close the door, before plunking herself down in the ultra comfortable cream armchair.
“Do you know of any reason why Christopher should be so late?” asked Margaret.
“No I haven’t heard from Chris since we talked on the phone a few days ago.”
For some reason, even though both Chris and Angie had repeatedly asked Margaret to address them as such, she still insisted on calling them by their full name. Maybe it was professional etiquette or something, but it irritated her all the same.
“Well, I say we give him another five minutes then I’ll give him a call. Who knows he might walk in the door any minute. It wouldn’t be fair to begin the session until you are both present.”
Angie nodded her head in agreement, but remained silent. Something didn’t feel right, but she just couldn’t quite put her finger on it. It suddenly occurred to Angie that perhaps Chris had decided that this meeting was a waste of time. After all, they’d had a rather heated argument about this very subject when they’d last spoken a few days earlier. Maybe this was his way of getting back at her for the hurtful things she’d said when they argued. Her thoughts were racing, but Angie quickly chided herself for even thinking that Chris would just fail to show. Even if he had decided not to come, he would have called to cancel the appointment. That was the one thing that Chris and Angie always agreed on, if you can’t make an appointment, call to cancel it. These days so many people seemed to consider it totally acceptable to just ‘no show’.
Angie recalled the large white board in the fertility department at the hospital. Each time they’d visit it would show the monthly figures for patients failing to keep their appointments, and the figures seemed to be growing. Those wasted appointments could have been allocated to other deserving patients had the offender cancelled their appointment in the appropriate manner. She remembered holding hands with Chris as they waited to see the doctor, and how nervous she felt before each and every appointment. She was nervous now, but for very different reasons. Chris still hadn’t arrived and there had to be a good reason for that.
In what seemed like seconds, the allotted five minutes had passed. It was time for Margaret to make the phone call. Opening up the case file on her desk, she tapped in the telephone number and waited for Chris to answer. You could hear her impatience growing as she furiously tapped the end of her pen on the large mahogany desk. When her tapping ended abruptly, it was the sign that the call had at last been answered.