It had been years now since he’d said a sweet word to her, or given her a cuddle, much less bought her flowers on her birthday. Barely a ‘hello’ as he came home from the office at the end of each day. Still, she believed it was her place, her duty to look after him – cook his meals, iron his shirts, keep a clean and tidy house.

‘There must be more,’ she often thought as they sat in silence each evening, watching television. He would frown in disapproval on the rare occasion that she’d go and see her friends, perhaps attend an evening lecture or even a performance of the local amateur dramatics society. He himself never went anywhere other than to and from work. Wouldn’t dream of accompanying her anywhere.

Loneliness

Yet he wasn’t cruel, didn’t mistreat her. Separation had never entered her head. But one evening, not feeling well, the pent-up frustration got the better of her. She shouted at him, cried, poured her heart out about her wasted life. He looked at her in astonishment, said not a word.

The next morning he packed a bag and was gone.

She was in despair, at her wit’s end. She was alone. No one even to watch television with. She burst into tears over a cup of tea with a friend. The friend suggested she join a club, a group, a society. So one day she steeled herself and presented herself, with tennis shoes and an old-fashioned tracksuit, at a beginners’ jogging group. There she quickly made new friends, lost a bit of weight. Her confidence growing, she changed her hairstyle, starting wearing make-up again, bought fashionable running gear and a Garmin watch.

A few months later, hardly believing herself, she lined up with hundreds of others at the start line of the local athletics club’s annual 10k road race. It wasn’t easy but she wasn’t last by any means. As she approached the last fifty yards, the crowds applauding the competitors, she couldn’t help but burst into tears. This time tears of joy. She had never known happiness like it, not since her wedding day.

And as she accepted her medal her vision was too blurred with tears to notice, arms aloft and receiving the cheers like a champion, her husband as he, too, trotted over the finishing line.

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