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Sitting in the car waiting for the traffic lights to change from red, a familiar old favourite was playing on Radio Two and I suddenly realised that the lyrics were perfect for next chapter for my book.

Maggie woke early the following morning feeling briefly disorientated. Before even opening her eyes she sensed that something wasn’t quite right. The room was oddly quiet without the usual heavy breathing coming from a sleeping Gordon lying on his side besides her and why wasn’t she feeling the constriction of her full length cotton nightie that always managed to wind itself around her waist during the night. As the last vestiges of sleep left her and as the cogs and wheels of her brain slowly started turning she remembered that there was no Gordon next to her because the day before she had left him high and dry in the car park at Land’s End.

What on earth had possessed her to do such a rash thing?

As the morning sky changed from the apricot pink of a summer sunrise to a watery blue, Maggie laid prostrate in her huge hotel bed staring at the high ceiling and contemplated the enormity of what she had done. Why exactly had she jumped on that bus? Well that was easy to answer, the constant moaning and put downs from her pompous twat of a husband had stretched her patience and tolerance levels to a point when she could take it no more and with a ping they had well and truly snapped and she just needed to get away. That, she could get her head around, but to hop on a bus with the ridiculous intention of going all the way to John O’Groats was well, nothing more than plain madness! What she should have done was got off at the next stop, phoned Gordon and waited for him to come and pick her up. Obviously he would be spitting feathers with rage and she would have to apologise profusely but after an awkward few hours of having to walk on egg shells, normal service would resume and that would be the end of that. Their holiday would continue, Gordon would be his usual self and she would resume being the timid little wife.  

Maybe it was time to phone him. He must be beside himself with worry by now. She had been foolish and selfish and it was time to stop this nonsense. With a sigh she sat up in bed and reached for her phone. Damn, there was only five percent charge left on it. Not enough for the call she needed to make. She’ll have to send a grovelling text instead.

The message written, she just couldn’t bring herself to send it. The minutes ticked by as Maggie stared at the screen of her phone whilst gnawing at her knuckles. After half an hour of waiting the screen went black as the last remaining charge dwindled to nothing. She considered using the hotel phone but realised that she had no idea what Gordon’s mobile number was. The only place where she knew where to find it was alas in her now dead as a dodo phone.

There was only one thing for it, she would have to call a taxi and return to the holiday cottage with her tail firmly between her legs. She should make a move and get going but instead of slipping out of bed, she remained under the crisp white sheet putting off the moment she would have to confront her husband.

The room was too quiet. On the bedside table sat a pink Roberts radio, the sort you often get in boutique hotels. Maggie tuned it to her favourite radio station. At home Gordon insisted on listening to Radio Four whilst eating his breakfast and refused to listen to popular music or silly jingles. Of course as soon as he left for work at the local council, she changed channels and sang and danced around the kitchen whilst getting on with the days chores.

The familiar introductory bars to an old favourite Candi Staton song filled the room and Maggie turned up the volume a notch.

What’s the use of sharing this one and only life?

Ending up just another lost and lonely wife.

You’ll count up the years

And they will be filled with tears…

Tears pricked at Maggie’s eyes and threatened to spill down her cheeks.

Say “I’m gonna a leave” a hundred times a day

It’s easier said than done

When you just can’t break away…

Never a truer word said

It’s high time now, just one crack at life

Who wants to live in, in trouble and strife

My mind must be free

To learn all I can about me…

Young hearts, run free

Never be hung up

Hung up like my man and me…

The song came to an end, but the lyrics struck a chord with Maggie Thornden and it was Candi Staton who changed her mind about phoning for that taxi.

She had one crack at life and she needed to learn about herself.

And with that she leapt out of bed with a new found determination ready to start her adventure!

Meanwhile a few miles away Gordon Thornden, not being an early riser, was gently snoring on his side of the bed clutching his mobile phone that had remained silent all night.

Once the decision had been made not to return to Gordon and to go on her mad quest to rediscover herself, Maggie couldn’t wait to get going. She felt invigorated, excited and strangely inches taller. For once there was a spring in her step and she held her head high. After pouring the whole bottle of the posh bubble bath into the enormous freestanding bath that sat in front of the window, she luxuriated in a long soak, something she rarely indulged in. The music played in the background whilst Maggie started to work out a plan of action. First things first though, the load rumblings coming from her tummy reminded her that she hadn’t eaten since the two sausage rolls the afternoon before and she was ravenous. Time to go and eat.

Over delicious sourdough toast, smashed avocado and poached eggs washed down with several large mugs of coffee Maggie had decided that she would stay in Penzance for one more day to get herself sorted for her epic journey. Fortunately her room was available for another night. The little voice of reason in her head was telling her to find somewhere that was much cheaper and not to be so extravagant but a bigger one was telling her to stay put and that she deserved a little luxury for once. Out of character she ignored the little voice and listened to the bigger one, although she told herself that this was a one off. She may be feeling a bit frivolous right now but she wasn’t usually a spendthrift and knew that she needed to budget wisely from now on. She could just imagine Gordon’s reaction if he received a sky high credit card bill. She needed to be sensible and after tonight she’ll have to stick to budget hotels and cheap bed and breakfast accommodation.

There was one thing that she really needed to do before anything else. He may be the most annoying man on the planet but he really didn’t deserve not knowing whether she was okay and he definitely deserved some kind of explanation. She knew that his pride and stubbornness would prevent him from making the first move even if he was worried and she had a fair idea what was going through his head right now. She’d been married to him long enough to know him inside and out. It was high time she broke radio silence and let him know that she was ok and that she wouldn’t be home for a few weeks.

The hotel front desk had a phone charger Maggie could borrow and whilst she waited for her dead phone to come back to life she thought long and hard of what to say to Gordon. She didn’t feel ready yet to talk to him over the phone as there was always the chance that she’d end up caving in and agree to return to him. No, the best thing to do was to send a text. Explain that she needed some space and that she’d be home in a few weeks’ time. That’s all he really needed to know for now.

She glanced down at the phone and saw that it was almost fully charged. Right, no more faffing about. It was time to do the right thing. There was nothing grovelling about the short text she wrote and she decided againt any lengthy explenation. That could wait for another time.

Gordon, please don’t worry about me. I need some space. Hope Will be back in a few weeks. Sorry. PS don’t forget you have a dentist appointment next week.PPS the milkman needs paying. Just put a cheque under the empty milk bottle when you put it out the night before.

Maggie couldn’t decide whether to end the text with her usual two kisses but thought better of it. She really didn’t want him reading anything into those little x’s!

Her finger hovered over the send button. Once pressed, that was it. No way could she back down and admit it was a big mistake and besides she really needed to do this for herself. She wasn’t leaving Gordon, she just needed a little rest from him. Spending some time apart would give her time to think and the chance to make her own decisions rather than having to depend on Gordon making them. For goodness sake. She even asked him which brand of toothpaste she should buy!

For once in your life Maggie Thornden, do something for youself. Be brave and send the bloody text.

So she did, and with that her adventure began.

Gordon was sitting in the conservatory nursing a cold cup of coffee still dressed in his pyjamas when his phone pinged letting him know of the arrival of Maggie’s text. He snatched it off the table and with some trepidation read it.

An hour later, with the Touran loaded , he posted the keys through the letter box and headed for home.

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