A glowing future

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My Own Resources
Ruth Rendell
Six should be enough,' he said. `We'll say six tea chests, then, and one trunk.
If you'll deliver them tomorrow, I'll get the stuff all packed and maybe your people
could pick them up Wednesday.' He made a note on a bit of paper. `Fine,' he said.
`Round about lunchtime tomorrow.'
She hadn't moved. She wasstill sitting in the big oak-armed chair at the far
end of the room. He made himself look at her and he managed a kind of grin,
pretending all was well.
`No trouble,' he said. `They're very efficient.'
`I couldn't believe,' she said, `that you'd really do it. Not until I heard you on
the phone. I wouldn't have thought it possible. You'll really pack up all those things
and have them sentoff to her.'
They were going to have to go over it all again. Of course they were. It
wouldn't stop until he'd got the things out and himself out, away from London and her
for good. And he wasn't going to argue or make long defensive speeches. He lit a
cigarette and waited for her to begin, thinking that the pubs would be opening in an
hour's time and he could go out then and get a drink.
`Idon't understand why you came here at all,' she said.
He didn't answer. He was still holding the cigarette box, and now he closed its
lid, feeling the coolness of the onyx on his fingertips.
She had gone white. `Just to get your things? Maurice, did you come back just
for that?
'They are my things,' he said evenly.
`You could have sent someone else. Even if you'd written to me and asked meto do it-
`I never write letters,' he said.
She moved then. She made a little fluttering with her hand in front of her
mouth. `As if I didn't know!' She gasped, and making a great effort she steadied her
voice. `You were in Australia for a year, a whole year, and you never wrote to me
`I phoned.'
`Yes, twice. The first time to say you loved me and missed me and were
longing to comeback to me and would I wait for you and there wasn't anyone else
was there? And the second time, a week ago, to say you'd be here by Saturday and
could I - could I put you up. My God, I'd lived with you for two years, we were
practically married, and then you phone and ask if I could put you up!'
`Words,' he said. `How would you have put it?'
`For one thing, I'd have mentioned Patricia. Oh,yes, I'd have mentioned her.
I'd have had the decency, the common humanity, for that. Dye know what I thought
when you said you were coming? I ought to know by now how peculiar he is, I
My Own Resources
thought, how detached, not writing or phoning or anything. But that's Maurice, that's
the man I love, and he's coming back to me and we'll get married andI'm so happy!'
`I did tell you about Patricia.'
`Not until after you'd made love to me first.'
He winced. It had been a mistake, that. Of course he hadn't meant to touch her
beyond the requisite greeting kiss. But she was very attractive and he was used to her
and she seemed to expect it - and oh, what the hell. Women never could understand
about men and sex. And there was only one bed,wasn't there? A hell of a scene
there'd have been that first night if he'd suggested sleeping on the sofa in here.
`You made love to me,' she said. `You were so passionate, it was just like it
used to be, and then the next morning you told me. You'd got a resident's permit to
stay in Australia, you'd got a job all fixed up, you'd met a girl you wanted to marry.
Just like that you told me, overbreakfast. Have you ever been smashed in the face,
Maurice? Have you ever had your dreams trodden on?'
`Would you rather I'd waited longer? As for being smashed in the face = he
rubbed his cheekbone `- that's quite a punch you pack.'
She shuddered. She got up and began slowly and stiffly to pace the room. `I
hardly touched you. I wish I'd killed you!' By a small table she stopped. There was a...
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