With shaking fingers, she removed the card from the envelope and read it again:
‘Daring’ by Callum Reid
VIP Opening Party
Friday 26th May
Browns Art Gallery
108 Marylebone High St, London, W1V 5SF
RSVP LPowell@Brownsart.co.uk by Thursday 11th May
And that was only four days away. She was surprised she had actually been invited. She presumed he would have forgotten her by now and got on with his life, with his brightly promising career. Because it was bright. He had made a name for himself in New York. The painter of poetry, the reviews had called him. She could have been his muse, she thought. “You’re my Proserpine,” he had joked, “golden, bold and sensual like a good-aged Scotch.” But she was just a wife. The wife of Thomas Curtis, the eminent plastic surgeon, with more boob-jobs under his belt than pebbles there were on Brighton beach. She had done so well, her mother continued to remind her. “The Scottish artist was cute but he would have had you living under a bridge,” she remembered her saying. She picked up her phone and dialled Meghan.
“Hi, can you talk?”
“Hi sweetheart, sure. Just give me two secs.”
She was with Adam. She heard her shouting his name and pouring a glass of something. “Are you about to have dinner? I can call you later,” Sophia offered, hoping she would stay on the line.
“No, it’s all right. I’m at Adam’s. We were deciding on films. He wants action and I want romance. What’s wrong with blokes?” Meghan laughed.
“Don’t ask me, I haven’t seen mine all weekend.”
“Is he still working all hours?”
“Yep. He was on call at the weekend and has just phoned to say he is going to be late again tonight. I don’t know, Meghan. I’m getting tired. I’m always by myself, I feel so lonely.” Sophia felt tears pricking her eyes.
“Oh darling, I’m sure it’s just a patch. It’ll come to an end soon.”
Taking a deep breath, she fetched a bottle of wine and poured herself a glass. “I don’t know, Meg. Things are not right. We haven’t been intimate for months.”
“All marriages go through a cold spell. How long has it been now? Five, six years?”
“There you go. The seven-year itch. It will pass.”
“What if it doesn’t? What if I made a mistake?”
“I guess you would have known by now. Seven years is a long time.”
“I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking all this time and I’m just waking up. This house, this marriage…everything is just a lie.”
“Tom loves you, Sophia. He’s a great guy. We should arrange to go out, the four of us. Wait a minute, what about Callum’s exhibition launch this Friday? He has sent you an invitation, hasn’t he?”
“Yes, he has. I don’t know. I don’t think I can bear it. My stomach starts churning at the thought of having Tom and Callum in the same room.”
“What do you mean? Are you saying you still have feelings for him?”
“No, of course not! We didn’t end in good terms, that’s all, and it’s been two years since I last saw him.” She let the wine linger in her mouth before swallowing it. Lies tasted better coated in Merlot.
“Well, it’d be the perfect opportunity to put things right. I’ll call you to arrange. I must get back to Adam or I’ll have to endure another sequel of the ‘Bourne’ saga. Bye love.”
She stared into the room. It was almost dark outside. The streetlights beamed on the shiny kitchen units, framing them with a ghostly halo. The space was modern and minimalist, like one of those glossy ads in decoration magazines. There were no photographs or personal memorabilia. It was barren, like her life. Sophia rose and walked to the windows to lower the blinds. A fine rain splashed the panes and dripped slowly to the sill, disappearing into the darkness, in unison with the fine drops that ran down her cheeks, through her collarbone and onto her chest, piercing her heart. The same drops he had wiped with his stained fingers the day he had told her he was leaving for New York. She lit a handful of candles and sat down, listening to the random rhythm of the rain. She liked the rain, it suited her. It made the world appear grey and colourless, like her existence. Her eyes gazed at the amber flames, swaying hypnotically in the gloom, calling her name. And she realised it was his voice, that voice she loved so much, with its soft Scottish burr, calling, always calling.
Edinburgh, Winter 2003
“I’m getting cold,” Sophia complained, “my nipples are starting to swell.”
“Ripe, darling, like sweet red berries.” Callum joked, dipping his brush in the colour palette.
© 2018 Isabel GG