The Truth About The Man At The Foot Of The Bed

‘Gareth?’ said Jenny.

‘Yes, Jenny?’ said Gareth.

‘There’s someone else.’

‘I was sort of wondering about that.’

Jenny said nothing for a moment, blinded by the headlights of a bad decision recognised too late. ‘You know?’

‘Well, he’s right there, isn’t he? At the foot of the bed. Now he’s waving.’

Mark waved.

‘It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that…’ Jenny stopped. Cliches can be dangerous. Speaking in them is only boring, but thinking in them is a trap that disintegrates the self. Jenny stared into Gareth’s eyes and saw herself. Not just her reflection, but the Jenny that Gareth saw, which illustrated the gulf between that Jenny, and the Jenny she thought she was, and standing somewhere roughly in the middle of that gulf was the real Jenny.

‘That you love him more?’ suggested Gareth. ‘What is it? Is it the hat? The monocle? I would have worn a hat and monocle to bed for you.’

Jenny looked at Mark, into his eyes, and saw no one.

‘I do love you,’ said Jenny, only just realising it herself.

‘Then why is there a strange man in our bed eating a rockmelon?’ said Gareth. ‘I mean, he’s not even using any tools, he’s just biting straight into the rind. I think he’s eating the rind.’

Jenny considered, but didn’t need to. ‘I thought I didn’t love you, when really I didn’t love myself. And I thought it was you that made me unfulfilled and unhappy. But it wasn’t. It was me. When I met you, I stopped living my own life. I thought you were the finish line. But nobody is anyone else’s finish line. There is no finish line. I mean, obviously there is, and it’s death, but I don’t want to sound morbid.’

‘Actually, I don’t think he’s eating any of it. He’s just mashing it till it falls out of his mouth like the Cookie Monster. Sorry, what were you saying?’

‘That you’re the one good thing in my life, and somehow that made me mistake you for the one bad thing. I don’t need to replace you with someone I think can make me happier, I need to remember how to make myself happy and share that happiness with you. Can you ever forgive me?’

‘Will that man stop slopping masticated rockmelon on my foot?’

‘Yes.’

‘Can I punch him in the nose?’

‘That’s fine.’

Gareth punched Mark in the nose. Twice, because the first one didn’t quite do the trick.

‘Well?’ said Jenny. ‘Can we try again?’

‘We can try,’ said Gareth.

And they did. But then the new season of Game of Thrones came out, and it rained a lot, and happiness takes more effort than staying in. Eventually they just had a baby instead.

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