Sequence: How Is a Windmill Like a Waypost (part two)
She could not leave her bed now, but huddled beneath the covers, sleepless, staring at the shadows deepening along the baseboard.
“You don’t love me,” she’d told Martin.
She thought she’d said it three times. She’d pushed at him.
And so he’d drawn away from her. He hadn’t started the car. He’d only leaned his forearm on the steering wheel, and pressed his eyes against his sleeve.
The rattling in the kitchen woke Freda to the added unpleasantness of boiled egg, and the necessity of breakfasting with Phillip. But somehow in her bleary half-doze, she’d resolved on…if not a plan of action, at least an act.
“You’ve been on a toot.”
Phillip’s merry voice was to Freda cheerful as grinding glass. He swirled a corner of toast in the air. “You’ve been on a three day bender, I surmise, totting up the visible symptoms.”
“Phillip, shut up. What are you doing at home, anyway?”
“I am always at home for breakfast. Then away about my affairs.” He swallowed a secretive smile, along with a sip of coffee.
“Phillip, where is Stanley? What a rubbish heap this house is! Mrs. Ruald can let herself in through the back door whenever she likes, you know.”
“Well, you must manage as you see fit. The green and sickly aspect is worth pushing home. She oughtn’t evict you when you’ve been unwell. On the other hand, if she tries it on, you may be in for a cash settlement…Stanley, by the way, wants no more to do with us.”
He finished his coffee, and abruptly left her. She stopped him, as he lifted his bowler from the hall tree.
“Phillip, will you give me a divorce?”
“Of course I will, love. But I can’t afford it. You’ll have to make it worth my while.”
Freda could interpret her debouchment from the city bus onto upper Landis Avenue, as a wish fulfilled…someone’s wish. If she took the matter in a spiritual vein, she might suppose a departed Pitfield-Young (she tried to imagine a Pitfield-Young among the harp-and-halo set: “I don’t mean to suggest I fault the afterlife, but the rules they insist on are all rather uncompromising…”) had stayed her with a spectral hand, while the bus passed through the city’s reasonable neighborhoods. She had not left her seat, until she’d reached the expensive shopping district, and felt spurred to it.
That morning, she had sortied from the bungalow with a will to find employment at all costs. Already, Freda had thrown an obstacle in her own way. Or, she was herself the obstacle.
How Is a Windmill Like a Waypost
(2016, Stephanie Foster)