They Do, I Don’t
by Susan Murphy
Her once happy life in tatters thanks to a cheating husband, lackluster career and a wrinkling face, Viv no longer believes in love and happiness. In fact, she hates them both. The problem is that as a marriage celebrant, gleeful love is what she has to deal with every day. With 10 hilarious and tragic weddings (and a funeral) to get through before she can give up being a celebrant, can she prove that love and happiness are the pathetic hopes of the naïve, or will fate intervene and show her that what she secretly craves could be right in front of her?
Hey sexy, wot you up to, I’m at a party tonite call me if you can get away, was the first thing I saw when I opened the messages on Peter’s phone. My legs buckled and gave way as I slid to the floor. I took a large swig from the wine bottle I was clutching.
When you came into the office today I saw you lookin at me. Trust me you'll want what I got.
She can’t even spell. I felt sick. I stood up with a wave of determination and dialed the number.
“Heeeeey,” she made a pathetic attempt at a sexy voice.
“Who the fuck is this?” I screamed down the phone that shook in my hand. The gasp she expelled before she hung up said more than any words could have. I rang again, my heart pounding louder than the dial tone. No answer. Pressing again and again with frantic fingers, I knew full well she wouldn’t pick up, but I needed her to know that I was onto her. I dialled until my fingers hurt.
Fury and rage ignited every cell of my body as adrenaline pumped through my veins so forcefully that I could have lifted a car. Could I lift a car and throw it through the bedroom window onto Peter?
Inhaling deeply I straightened in an attempt to compose myself. My thoughts went to the kids. Natalia was working a night shift at the café and the boys were away at a soccer training camp. I marched to the bedroom and switched on the light.
“Who is she?” I asked in the calmest voice I could muster, determined to get as much information as possible before I killed him.
Peter’s eyes squinted against the sudden bright light. His mouth dropped open as his eyes adjusted and he saw the phone in my hand. When he didn’t answer I threw the phone onto the bedside table next to him, feeling satisfied when it sent the lamp crashing to the floor. I stared at the pieces, feeling as broken as they were. It felt good to hear it smash. What else can I break? I turned my attention to the expensive aftershave bottles, feeling satisfaction as they too fell to the floor in pieces.
“Answer me you gutless wanker, who is the woman sending you dirty messages?”
Peter pulled himself up to a sitting position. “Someone from the office.”
“Someone from the office? Who from the office?”
“Daniella. She’s one of the payroll girls,” he muttered.
“There are only four girls that work in the whole place, and you had to start screwing one of them.”
“I’m not screwing her, we’ve just been flirting – that’s all.”
“You expect me to believe that?” Holding up the phone, I began reading aloud the sordid exchanges between them.
“I’m telling you,” Peter pleaded. “I know it sounds bad, but we haven’t done anything. It’s just been messages and flirting.”
“I don’t believe a word you’re saying, you lying piece of shit. After everything we’ve been through together, our kids.” The last word caught in my throat as I thought of our three children. ”How old is she?”
He was silent.
“How fucking old is she?” I hissed, the force burning my throat.
“Twenty-two,” he mumbled.
I launched myself onto the bed with waving arms, thrashing and growling, primal sounds rising from the depths of my darkest places. Peter was yelling for me to stop. He grabbed my wrists and brought my arms in tightly, restraining me easily. I must look like a lunatic. Even in the throes of the deepest anger and rage, I was actually wondering how I must look? Is that normal? I was distracted momentarily, long enough for Peter to look at me with a puzzled expression, wondering why I had stopped.
“Calm down,” Peter pleaded. He increased the pressure to hold me off. Exhausted and out of breath, I slid back off the bed and onto the floor.
Peter’s stunned face stared at mine. I wondered if he thought I was losing it. Was I? The air in the room seemed to thicken and I gasped to fill my lungs. My chest heaving, I leaned back against the sliding mirrored door, utterly defeated.
The gravity of what he’d done was beginning to sink in. My shoulders felt heavy. “Twenty-two, Peter? Natalia is nineteen! How can you even look at her and not see someone who’s your daughter’s age?”
“I know,” was all he could say.
“And what about the boys? They’re sixteen. How the hell are you going to explain this to them?”
He wouldn’t even meet my eyes.
I suddenly had a thought. “Don’t tell me that this is where all that money’s been going?” Peter had been making a lot of unusual cash withdrawals lately, but when I asked him about it, he always had some excuse. “Have you been using our money to buy her gifts or flowers or to pay for motel rooms? I swear to God I’ll kill you Peter.”
“No, I haven’t. I haven’t bought her anything.”
“So where has all the money been going?”
He was shaking his head, “I can’t”.
“Can’t? What do you mean you can’t?” I demanded through clenched teeth.
“You’ll hate me even more.”
I let out a hideous snort. “Are you serious? How could I hate you any more than I do right now? You might as well get it all out so that at least I know what I’m dealing with.”
His silence was intensifying my already bursting frustration.
When he finally spoke it was little more than a whisper, “I’ve been gambling.”
“What? What did you say?” I stepped back.
“I’ve been gambling. That’s where the money’s been going. I haven’t been working late into the middle of the night, I’ve been going to the pub to play pokies.”
I felt like I had been hit by a ten-ton concrete block. I slumped back to the floor, stars circling before my eyes as my lungs emptied. Breathe, keep breathing.
Susan Murphy is a civil marriage celebrant based in South Australia. With more than eight years experience, she’s had the pleasure and blessing of conducting ceremonies all over the country including weddings, baby naming’s, commitment ceremonies, funerals and anything else that has been requested by a client. The stranger the better!
With a passion for words and a determination to one day (even if it was from the nursing home) become a writer, she made a fateful decision to attend a Masterclass with the amazing Fiona McIntosh, and from there 'Confetti Confidential' was born.
Susan will be awarding an eCopy of They Do, I Don't to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.