Thursday - 4:56am to the City

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Robert had been awake for a while. Since Monday he had started harbouring suspicions about what Elouise actually got up to in the early hours of the morning before work. Somehow, her excuse that she had been sitting in the park just didn't sit well with him. Not only was she not a sitting in the park kind of person, but she had always said she needed to start early so that she could be prepared for her boss before he arrived for work. It simply didn't stand to reason that, if she had to be at work early, that she would spend an hour or so sitting in the park. Even if she was working like she said she was, how did that help her prepare for her boss? It just didn't make sense, and the more that Robert thought about it the more he started to realise where the deception lay. She was doing something else before work, and Robert had become suspicious enough that he was beginning to think that he knew what it was.

Thoughts started to coalesce in his mind as his wife slept on, random thoughts and memories - Elouise taking her wedding rings off because they gave her dermatitis; her insistence that she needed to start work at seven, but rarely finished before six; her infectious smile in the morning that turned into a frown when he joined her. And Robert started formulating a plan of sorts. Shortly, the five o'clock alarm sounded, morning radio deejays brutally intruding into the quiet morning. He watched his wife as she rolled over, started to wake, his heart filled with love but now, and in equal proportion, suspicion. Eventually, she opened her eyes, stretched, and got out of bed. She padded to the adjoining ensuite, closed the door behind her, and the muted sounds of her bathing began. Not a word had been spoken.

As soon as Elouise was out of the bathroom and in the walk-in robe dressing, he followed suit. By the time he emerged from the shower to get dressed she was downstairs, preparing breakfast and lunches and yelling to Kasey to come down and eat. The three of them performed their normal routine morning dance - partners who moved around each other in practised rhythm, but without touching, without passion. Eventually, Elouise gave Robert and Kasey a quick peck on the cheek each, and, appearing as distracted as ever, went downstairs to get in the car and drive to the station.

Robert acted quickly. He picked up the backpack that contained his laptop, and the car keys to the government Prius he drove, then gave Kasey another peck on the cheek and told her sorry, but he had to leave early too. He dashed out the door, hurtled down the stairs to where his car sat in the driveway, quickly got it into gear and was on his way to the station, hot on the heels of his wife, and with his heart thumping.


Zach lay in bed, looking around his tiny inner-city studio apartment. The walls were covered with art - his own unframed canvases hanging haphazardly from every spare space, without regard for form or pattern. More stood in stacks against the skirting boards, and the remaining floor space was littered with more canvas stretched across wooden frames, pristine and waiting only for inspiration to render them into works of art. Zach had never spent time at art school, and had never sold a painting, despite what he told those he wished to impress. Zach had made his money as the owner of a car yard, having sold it to one of the multi-national chains when they first started encroaching on his territory. He had been making a comfortable but not wealthy living off the business, but when it sold he made a number of wise decisions. He had sold the property he had been paying off in the suburbs and bought the apartment - tiny but very fashionable. He had been sure to take the convertible with his as a farewell gift to himself, and then invested the remainder of the money. He now lived modestly off the interest and, with no loan repayments on car or house, he felt he was doing alright. He had finally found the time to pursue his first love - women. In order to do so, he had created a persona that women simply couldn't resist, that of the struggling artist. It had all the romantic charm of those horrid movies he took them all to see, but it gave him exactly what he wanted - sex. And as much of it with as many different women as possible.

Thinking of his conquests made him think of Elouise, and the reason why he was awake so early. She had stood him up the day before, no reason given, and in a fit of pique he had sent her a text message saying that maybe she didn't value the relationship as much as he did. He had learnt long ago the language to use when speaking to women, and he thought that he had worded it quite well. He had been surprised when no expression of regret and apology had been forthcoming from her whatsoever, and he was angry enough about it that he still wanted his revenge. It was alright for him to stand a girl up if he wasn't in the mood, but god pity the woman who tried it back on him.

He had been thinking a lot recently that the relationship with Elouise was getting tired and a glimmer of an idea started to germinate in his mind. He rolled the thought around in his mind for a while, and eventually decided that, if he could cause enough of an argument with her, he would be able to orchestrate a big, angry argument one day pretty soon. The argument would easily facilitate a show of emotion on his part, where he could fling some accusatory words at her and walk off into the sunset - never to be seen by her again. This way, he could easily avoid the part of the breakup where she would cry all over him, begging him to take her back, and his memories of her would be forever tainted by whatever cruel words she flung at him, thus resulting in a total reluctance on his part to ever regret the move and want her back. Perfect!

With this in mind, Zach rolled over in bed, pulled the blankets up to his ears, and closed his eyes, a small smile playing on his face, pleased with his cleverness.


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