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them, you know."

"No, David," she said. "I don't know."

The door opened behind David's back and Ian said, "Everything all right, Anne?"

"Fine," she said. "Just hunky-dory."

"The stuff's in the car. Are you coming, or what?"

Anne took a step closer to David and stared into his face. "Well, David?" she said.

When he said nothing, she said, "Well, why don't you try to stop me, David? The love of your life is walking out on you and you're just going to stand there?"

When he still said nothing, she said, "Oh, what's the use?" and walked past him and out of the door.

After she had gone, he wandered around the house for a while, walking from room to room. She had taken pictures off the walls and ornaments from the tables; all the accumulated bric-a-brac of a decade of marriage. He still couldn't quite believe it: one morning at the breakfast table, over the buttered toast and soggy cereal, she had ended their marriage. All gone, wadded up like a used paper tissue and tossed into a bin. All gone.

He found himself in the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the unmade bed. The springs creaked and popped. He watched the net curtain over the window slowly moving in a faint breeze. The evening sun was streaming through the curtain onto Anne's dressing table and a splinter of light struck his eyes, reflected off one of the empty perfume bottles she had left.

At five past eight he thought: she'll be starting her shift at the off-licence now.

That night, he slept on the couch in the living room of the empty house. When he awoke the next morning, he couldn't remember his dreams.

At ten to nine in the morning he put on his raincoat, picked up his briefcase and umbrella, and left for work.

The office was busier than it had been the previous day. By the time he arrived, one of the clients had already tried to contact him several times, and the first thing Yvonne did was to hand him the scrap of paper with the details of the calls scribbled on it. Gil. Bros. called 8-49, query invoice. Called again 9-13, demand you phone John Gilbert, soonest.

It took him the best part of the morning to sort the problem out, and by mid-day he was irritable and tired. Yvonne had been casting sympathetic glances at him every now and then, as though she suspected he was having domestic trouble. But he said nothing to her about it.

When twelve-thirty came round, he said to her: "Yvonne, I won't be able to join the others in the canteen for lunch today. Let them know, will you."

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