READERS’ STORIES: A Strand of Hair
by David Hall
Olive reached into the wardrobe and took out the suit her husband had worn to work the previous day – the day on which he had arrived home from work rather late with no explanation.
She was about the earmark it for the dry cleaners when she noticed a strand of hair across the collar. It was blonde and her heart sank. She had thought that after almost 25 years their marriage was perfect. But the hair, and the fact that Charles had merely apologised for being late without explaining why concerned her. Now her worry turned to fear. What if he was having an affair? What if he was about to leave her?
Her concentration during the day was nil; every few seconds she pondered the hair and her future. She still loved Charles passionately and could not conceive of life without him. Even her trip to the supermarket had lost its gloss as her mind wandered constantly while she toured the aisles.
She reached the cake department and was about to select one of Charles’s favourites – a strawberry tart – thinking it would be a pleasant surprise for him. But she replaced it quickly, after all if the marriage was over there was no point in wasting money on it, or him. Even the coffee with her friend Veronica only added to her exasperation. Veronica had been divorced the previous year and talked constantly of how she had missed the signs of his infidelity and affair until it was too late.
“In the end I just took him for every penny I could. It was harrowing but I had a good solicitor and made sure I scraped his bank balance as clean as was possible,” Veronica reported. “In fact the last payments came through this month – that’s why I don’t mind treating you today.” Olive hadn’t spoken about her fears but the conversation only made her more nervous. But the coffee break
went on longer than usual and she returned home unusually late to discover that Charles’s car was already on the drive.
He opened the door for her, smiling. “You two-faced rogue,” she thought. “How can you smile after what you are putting me through?”
In fact Olive managed to start the conversation: “You’re early. Late yesterday – early today.”
“Yes,” he replied, “I was going to tell you why I was late yesterday.”
Her heart sank – she hadn’t reckoned it could go any lower but it did.
“I went to see Joyce and John, you remember the couple we met at that club some weeks ago.”
She did remember. Joyce was the pretty one with the long blonde hair.
“And…” she said, poised for the shock.
“Well, John wasn’t in,” he continued, making her feel even more depressed.
“Oh, so you only saw Joyce?”
“Well, yes,” he went on. “But I had a very good time – and it will affect you.”
As he paused, all her fears seemed to be realised. Joyce of all people. They seemed such a lovely couple. But appearances can be deceptive. She hardly heard his next few words.
“They had this lovely dog – a long haired Havanese. I think they originated in Cuba, Their coats are known for being long and heavy and can be wavy, curly or straight. They don’t need excessive exercise and they are easy-going. Joyce and John love it and as you and I had talked about a dog the other day I thought it would be a super way to celebrate our 25th anniversary, today.”
Olive felt sick. It was a dog hair. Her day had been ruined for no reason at all. And even as she was feeling the utter relief, Charles opened the lounge door and out bounded a beautiful little white dog.
“I haven’t named him – I thought you could do that,” Charles babbled on, full of excitement. “Joyce knew a breeder who had one for sale and that’s why I was late – I went to see him, loved it on the spot and went back today to get it. What do you think?”
Tears gushed down Olive’s face as she cuddled the little bunch of fur which wagged its tail and enjoyed the attention.
“He’s beautiful,” she sobbed. “I’d forgotten all about our anniversary. Oh Charles, I do love you – and Silver is beautiful”.
“Silver?” he queried?
“That’s what I am going to call him – it’s our silver wedding anniversary and only you remembered. I am so ashamed. Silver will be a constant reminder of my stupidity.”
Charles smiled, took her in his arms and chuckled. “I love you just as you are, and always will.”