She padded into the bedroom from the en suite, clad only in underwear, and stood in front of the full-length mirror. Not bad, she thought. Despite her advancing years, not bad. Settling at her dressing table, she flipped open her laptop. Its fan started to whirr, breaking the silence. It was always silent now that he was gone.
She fired up her email but did not expect to see much. As the wife of a well-known actor, Dee Dee’s life had been crammed with appointments, but as his widow, her diary had quickly dried up. The world had more important things on its mind, than to dwell on the widow of an actor who had died in a car-wreck.
To those who did not know her, she was a lucky woman. Left an enormous legacy, by a drunk of a husband… the world envied her, at least until it lost interest, for she had been freed. Little did they understand the vacuum that he had left, how, even six months after the accident, she struggled for a new purpose. She contemplated how she would fill her day, as she read through her fresh emails.
Absent-mindedly, she flicked through the list. Same old rubbish. Become a millionaire? No thanks. Already got that particular tee, many years ago. On autopilot, she responded to each irritation with the stroke of the Delete key. Then, a name. A name she had tried so much to erase, but found it immovable in her brain. Kenneth Sanderson. She closed her eyes, allowing herself to reminisce.
At that time, her husband had been a brash young actor, lacking any finesse, his only asset had been his biceps. A career-enhancing part, he had panicked about his inability to actually act, and had enlisted the help of a coach, Ken Sanderson. Dee Dee had first met Ken when he had been hired to give tuition, and had been immediately mesmerised. Married for just long enough to realise her new husband’s weaknesses, Dee Dee had fallen for this witty, intelligent man, and his piercing blue eyes. Although he was fifteen years her senior, she had found herself head-over heels in love – even to this day, she had never known anyone like this – and they began a brief but passionate affair. This charming man, whom Dee Dee would come to think of as the love of her life… It could not last, of course. Both already had partners, there was no hope, and it ended almost as soon as it had begun, while they still thought of each other as perfect. Ken’s coaching, too, had finished, and his memory had gradually faded like a favourite, cherished garment.
She smiled ruefully… the love of her life.
The telephone snapped Dee Dee back to the present. Her daughter. Another crisis. More tears. What was it about privileged youngsters? How come none of them seemed to have the “cope” gene? Some words of wisdom. Some motherly advice. She knew it would probably be discarded, that she’d just be left to deal with the fallout.
Daughter rang off after a few minutes, seemingly placated. Or, more likely, something else had distracted her. Dee Dee’s attention returned to her computer.
Ken Sanderson. What a coincidence, to have the same name. But it was not obvious spam, it had been forwarded by her office, so she opened the message.
Immediately, she knew.
“Dear Delia, …” the message began. Delia. Only three people had ever called her Delia. Her parents, now long dead, and Ken. He had specifically hated the glamourised Dee Dee, and insisted on using her real name instead. The memories came flooding back, as she started reading.
“I wanted to express my condolences regarding the accident…” Well, it was six months ago now, so his condolences were unnecessary, she thought. In later years, her marriage had been one of convenience, so that wound was already healing nicely.
Some empathy, next. Mary, his own wife, had died six years ago in the fall. Cancer. She remembered Mary. His devotion to her had been clear, this was one of the reasons that she knew it had to end with him. That must’ve been a rough deal.
Some chit-chat next, asking after her children, a line each about his own.
The message was short and sweet. I doubt he thought it would even get through to me, she thought, so why waste time writing reams?
Still smiling, she remembered Ken. It had been forty years ago, but… her rock. She quivered to herself as she felt his touch. In days when she had less trouble finding suitors than swatting them away, Ken had been different. Ever the gentleman, he had been awkward, shy – he couldn’t see his own qualities. And, to this day, neither husband, nor any subsequent lover, had come close to Ken.
She realised instantly that the chains which had once bound them both were now gone, and her heart skipped a beat as she immediately started a response. But she was cautious – with such a passage of time, her every instinct was to remain non-committal, as he had been, until she knew his reasons. But that was straightforward – he would doubtless have been devastated at the loss of his wife. She, after all, had been the main reason that they had halted their affair. So she offered condolences of her own.
She paused to ponder. She glanced around her bedroom. Did she really want to allow anybody back into her life? She was unsure. Why had he made contact? Perhaps, after so long, it was best just to let sleeping dogs lie? Staring at her response, her mouse hovered over the Delete button.
She thought for longer. On the other hand, surely she owed it to their past relationship to find out?
She settled the argument for herself, With a twitch of her hand, she moved the cursor to the next button, and hit “Send”.