The conference couldn’t have come soon enough Terese thought as she sat back in the car looking at the whole world passing her by. The distraction of a bird or a drifting cloud didn’t take her mind off Ramsay Street for too long and she found herself getting worked up. Why did she marry such a frustrating individual? She paused her thoughts. She didn’t need the answer to that one, she knew deep down why. And his little schemes were a small part of that. There was something quite exciting about the unknown when it came to Paul, she just wished that he would take her on the ride sometimes instead of letting her find out when it all blew up. This time however, the fight or even the disagreement wasn’t about them. It was nothing he had done intentionally, but it still didn’t excuse the matter. She loved her family, the one she and Paul had built. Their little patchwork family was everything she could’ve hoped for and she wouldn’t change them for the world. But yesterday was just too much. And for Paul to just dismiss the incident as one of those things and move on annoyed her more than the incident itself. Was it that much of an ask for him to side with her? When it came to the three of them, he was quite happy to work himself up about the cheese in the fridge being finished or the lack of respect towards his chessboard on the coffee table. But this time, nothing. Why couldn’t he see that she was hurt. Why couldn’t he understand her reasoning for being upset. She sighed. Then again maybe she had been too harsh on him, after all he didn’t know the story behind it.
She continued to look out the window.
I hope he understands why I felt the way I did she thought. He has such a caring and understanding heart when he knows someone needs him and this was one of the reasons, she married him. Even though he rarely likes to share that side of himself with anyone. She smiled to herself. She was pretty lucky. Despite everyone thinking they know Paul it was only her that knew the real him. And yes, it was hard at times to sit around listening to everyone judge and complain about him when she knows there is so much, they don’t see. But that was also the best part. He kept some things only for her, their special moments.
She looked at her watch. Having slept in the hotel because of the early start she hadn’t seen him this morning. Hadn’t kissed him good morning as she promised to do every morning since the wedding. He would’ve been up by now, suit on and having a heated debate with one of the youngsters over breakfast. She smiled. I wonder what the topic would be today. Seeing as yesterdays was “Is there such a thing as Orange Jam or is it just Marmalade?”, it could be pretty much anything.
They passed the airport sign. She was going to miss her little family, and to make it worse she was leaving on a sour note. She hated that. Despite all the disagreement and heated debates there was nothing better than those mornings when they sat down together. Everyone discussing what they had planned for the day, knowing it would turn out completely different. All of them ganging up on Paul, teasing him over the smallest thing, until he’d lose his cool and then that final rush when they all lost track of time and realised that they were late. She smiled as she thought about the next seven days. She always found it amusing when she went away, the thought of Paul alone with the kids. They had so much respect for him as did he for them but that didn’t stop the tension or the bickering. At times it was like sharing a house with four young adults. Paul never one to back out of a fight, she would more often than not be the one to broker peace. They had a real talent of turning the smallest thing into a big deal and for that to ruin his mood for, at times, an entire day. It was all good natured and deep down he knew it. And this is what amused her. Any time she went away she expected to come home to a war. Paul, stating his case in the car on the way home and the kids all waiting in the wings to tell her their side of the story as she opened the door. Despite having daily phone calls, she always thought Paul was hiding the truth from her on how everything was, trying not to worry her. He was thoughtful like that. But anytime she went away she would return to a normal, or as normal as it could be, home. No fighting, no battle lines drawn, no sides being picked. She would often try to fish for any information she could from Paul on the ride home, but there was nothing. It was as if once she left, they called a truce and everything carried on. Three weeks she left last year, and in all of three weeks the worst she’d got from the kids was that Paul was “annoying” and “a bit too much in their business”. Not that she complained, but it did make her wonder why. Was it because of her, did they deliberately pick on him when she was there so that they knew he couldn’t bite back too much? Or did they do it because they knew when she was there, he had someone in his corner? Because when it came down to it, and as much as she enjoyed the teasing, she would always be in his corner. Always.
She sighed. Ever since that day she arrived their relationship had been intense, if it wasn’t professional, it was personal. If it wasn’t about them, it was about other people in their lives. She had never known anyone that took so long to find each other on the same path. Theirs kept crossing in places that wasn’t quite right or ready. She stopped and looked at the ring on her finger. Was it theirs though? Looking back, Paul’s path had been going the same straight line for years. The only curve he had was with Jane, and that was partly down to her. She quite often wondered why didn’t he stray more often, why didn’t he move on. Time and time again she would fall for him, only to move on with someone else and then revisit the same circle time and time again. But not Paul. He’d tell her he loved her when they were together and that seemed to be it until the next time. Even his attempt to make her jealous with Courtney turned out to be nothing but an agreement that went a tad too far. Ever since their first kiss he’d been there waiting for her, and at times she believed before that. Every moment in her life where she needed a friend or a shoulder to cry on, he was there. Any time she wanted someone to shout at or place blame, he was there. No one challenged her like he did, and no one had ever made her feel like he did. But all these things happening just so they could arrive where they were today was what made their relationship so special. It was what made them, them.
She opened her bag, took out her phone and double tapped the screen. There he was. The reason she was so annoyed this morning, the reason she stayed at the hotel last night, the reason she felt so lost this morning. She smiled at the phone thinking about that day. The day the picture was taken. It was the day she returned from visiting the kids last year. A lot had gone on when she returned but according to Roxy the toughest thing was seeing, as she put it, Paul’s left home alone puppy act. She was determined to take the photo to make sure no one forgot the smile he had on his face that day. It was a lovely photo, taken outside in the garden, the sun slowly setting in the background. Roxy made sure he had a copy on his phone too. Terese smiled as she thought about the time, she picked up his phone, accidently pushed the power button and saw the picture staring back at her.
She lifted her head and looked out the window before looking back at her phone. She scrolled her contact list and started typing. As she sent the message, she leaned forward in the car.
“Excuse me, can you do me a favor.”
“Sure, Ms Willis” the driver answered.
“Can you take me back home” she told him as she sat back “I have a promise I need to honor”