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Different Planets

Page 6

Alison Knight

The following year, Bridie’s absences grew more frequent still. Her hydroponics project had reached a critical stage and she had a major proposal to submit, she explained. A lot was hanging on it. Although I missed her, I was happy to see her so animated, so purposeful. I offered to write up her research notes. That proved time-consuming. After I missed a few copy-editing deadlines, that work began to dry up.

‘Never mind,’ said Bridie, ‘you work for me now.’

As the months rolled by, Bridie’s exercise regime intensified. Healthy body, healthy mind, she’d say. As for me, I rarely left the house. I put on weight. ‘Dumpling,’ Bridie called me. But I knew she was only teasing. I loved her and she loved me.

One afternoon, as we stacked the cavernous freezer in the garage, Bridie informed me she had to go to Sydney for three days to deliver the final presentation on her project.

‘Can I come too?’ I begged.

It would be a full-on residential affair, she said—no partners or family.

‘I could look round Sydney.’


‘I hardly see you any more! We may as well be on different planets!’

I’d never lost my temper with her before. She gaped at me in appalled silence, then turned away and jammed yet more frozen vegetables onto a shelf. There was enough food in that freezer to last us years.

She spent the rest of the afternoon on one of her tidying frenzies, tossing clothes, linen, books into garbage bags. She threw them into the back of her Land Rover and took them to the charity shop in Corbyn. That evening she claimed she had pressing insurance matters to attend to.

I had many hours to regret my outburst. I should have been aware how stressed she was. She didn’t need me making emotional demands.

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