Minute after minute, her mobile remained silent. What if her actions meant nothing and Thomas would never speak her name again?
Focussed on her phone; she nearly missed her stop.
Not wanting to return to an empty bed, Elizabeth rushed around the house. She swept the floors and tidied the house until even the floor gleamed. If Thomas did decide to see her tonight, then she had to be ready for him. As the hours passed, the sun faded into nothingness, there was still no word from Thomas.
She removed a blanket from the airing cupboard and tried to sleep on the sofa. Her eyes were wide open. Not even darkness could persuade her to sleep. Elizabeth had always prided herself, that whatever happened in her life, she was honest. Now her reliable nature was in shreds. Not only did she engage in an affair with a married man, but she falsified data.
Her eyelids drooped and after one last look at her mobile, she got some intermittent sleep. When it trembled, in the early hours of the morning, she roused straight away. Elizabeth rubbed her eyes, sat up straight, read his text, and burst into tears.
He had forgiven her.
Christmas was only a week away and Martha only left the house to go shopping. The nights started earlier. Afraid of being out when it was dark, the only time she left the house was to do some shopping. Trips to the library had stopped completely.
She kept busy at home and made a concerted effort to bring some cheer to the house. With his current mood swings, instead of traditional festivities she could only expect hard work.
Also, Thomas preferred a real tree. He insisted on buying it every year. Martha hated the pine needles, which needed hoovering every day, yet never criticised his choice.
Everything had to be faultless. If they suddenly had company, a united front could be shown to one and all – until the door was firmly shut behind her that is. Not that they had many visitors. Sometimes Charles would call and have his customary glass of sherry, but most of the time they would be alone.
In previous years Thomas held grand Christmas parties, which would be talked about even when the new year had passed. Theresa would never be invited because he thought the tone would be lowered.
She spent countless hours decorating the tree, using ornaments brought from her childhood home. They looked beautiful, yet they were a stark reminder of how things had changed.
Even when the tree looked a little bit more colourful, Martha found it difficult to get into good spirits. Her thoughts often wandered to Laura. She arranged to see her at Theresa’s house. They could celebrate Christmas in their own special way. It was the only respite from the day itself, but it had to be enough.