I didn't bother answering her, knowing damn well that my words would just bounce off the sunshine-hued helmet that protected her ego from any attack. So she didn't love me anymore. What was there to say to that? Considerate of her really, to have waited until the weekend to break the news to me; at least I had two days to recover from a shattered relationship before putting my suit on and going back to work.
'I think it would be best if you left straight away. You can go and pack now, I'll be in the bathroom for a while.'
Was that the greatest insult, that she was excluding me from her Saturday bathroom ritual? I remembered the early days of our relationship when I burned for her, when even a moment out of her company had caused me to hyperventilate. I used to follow her into the bathroom, where I had been given a tiny corner of one shelf for my razor and deodorant, all of her expensive creams and unguents filling every other bit of space. The first time I saw the Saturday ritual I watched, fascinated, as she buffed and polished every inch of that glorious body, exfoliating and depilating while a thick mask of conditioning treatment worked on her hair, her crowning glory. That first time I had stripped and joined her in the shower, worshipping her with my hands as I helped to massage and primp every inch. I had worked the conditioner, thick and goopy, through her hair, stimulating her scalp, and she had sighed and leaned back against me, rubbing up against my almost-permanent erection.
Those early days, those first Saturdays, I had mapped every inch of her over and over, but always I was drawn back to her hair. She knew how to use it, too. Out of the shower, fragrant and moist, she would straddle me on the bed and whip her hair against my chest, my face, my groin until her hair was dry, the curls bouncing and springing around her breasts, and I was so hard that I would take her, suddenly, without a word. Later that evening we would go out - to restaurants, clubs, galleries - and she would glow on my arm, attracting men like moths. But she always came home with me.
Now she had gone upstairs to begin the Saturday ritual without me. Was she going to mourn the death of our relationship with chocolate ice-cream and a soppy movie, or would she be out on the town as though nothing had happened? Was there someone else already? Would the new me be in this house, watching his first Saturday ritual with awe-round eyes by this time next week? I clenched my fists.
I went upstairs. I could hear her in the bedroom, opening the wardrobe and laying out clothes. I had better clear out the bathroom first, not that that would take long. Picking up my battered toilet bag I threw in my razors and toothbrush, toothpaste and comb. There was no point in taking my shampoo - the bottle was almost empty. I rinsed out the bottle and balanced it on top of the overflowing bin. There was a gap on the shelf now, between the large tub of Frederic Fekkai conditioner that cost a small fortune (I knew, I had bought it for her) and the bottle of Veet that she used on the delicate skin between her legs, preferring to be bare and clean there. There were a number of other bottles that were nearly empty, and I suddenly decided to clean house and rinse them all out for her. I piled them all on top of the bin and brought it out of the bathroom with me. She was standing in the hall in her navy silk robe. She slipped past me into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. Of course.
I put the bin down and retrieved an large holdall from the hotpress. It was so easy to leave a life. I emptied my wardrobe and drawers in ten minutes flat, then carried everything downstairs. In the sitting room I gathered books and CDs into a cardboard box, and left everything by the front door. Done in twenty minutes - I could still hear the shower running.
I loaded up the car with my paltry belongings and then remembered the bathroom bin. I went back for it and sorted its contents into paper and plastic, rinsing the thick viscous conditioner out of the Veet bottle before adding it to the recycling. I left my keys on the kitchen table and paused for one last time inside the front door, gazing up the stairs.
Right on cue, there it was; the bloodcurdling scream as she began to rinse her hair. I imagined thick gobbets of it, almost melted by the depilatory cream, clogging the shower drain for weeks to come. Well, unclogging that drain wasn't my problem anymore.
I let myself out of the house and walked to my car without a second glance.