by June Webber
honey and lemon
Everyone in the village, except for one, loved Vanessa. Since she and her husband Bill had retired there three years earlier, she had brought new life to the village. She had been elected to the parish council and saved the village school and the bus service. She was a school governor, chair of the W.I., and arranged the flowers in church. When lockdown came, she shopped for the shielding, made scrubs for the hospital and volunteered at the vaccination clinic. Meetings transferred to Zoom, so she spent hours shut away in her study.
Whenever Bill ventured out, which was rare these days, people would remark how kind Vanessa was, and what a difference she had made to the village. ‘You’re a lucky man,’ they remarked, at which Bill grunted behind his mask.
‘Can you do the washing and put the dinner on love,’ she called out to Bill one day. ‘I’ve got an extra shift at the clinic, and I’ll be late back.’
Vanessa arrived home to find a suitcase on the bed and piles of shirts and underclothes spread around.
‘Where do you think you are going?’ she asked. ‘You know our holiday was cancelled.’
‘I’m leaving you,’ he informed her brusquely.
Vanessa’s mouth opened wide. ‘You can’t,’ she gasped. ‘Where will you go? What will you do without me?’
‘All our working lives,’ Bill began, ‘we were rushing around and never having much time to relax. I looked forward to retiring to a quiet place in the country, where we could enjoy our life together, going for walks, having a drink in the pub, and sitting in the garden. Instead, you’re always out or on a zoom meeting. You just treat me like a dogsbody to do the shopping and housework, whilst you lord it over the village being a pillar of the community.’
‘I only wanted to be useful, but if you want me to stay at home more, I expect I could,’ offered Vanessa grudgingly.
‘Too late now,’ retorted Bill. ‘Whilst you have been at the clinic or wherever, I have been online to a dating agency and met a lovely widow who likes country walks and pub meals and makes me feel wanted. I’m moving in with her to form a bubble!’
About the author
June Webber writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry, and attends a U3A creative writing group and an online poetry group.