|My husband is leaving his body to medical science. Sometimes I wonder if they’d like it sooner rather than later.
I used to think Ronan was the nearest thing to perfect this side of Colin Firth. When we first met, I’d imagine him coming out of a lake soaked to the skin, rivulets of water pouring from his clinging white shirt. He would throw me to the floor and tear the clothes from my body, regardless of buttons, zips or other tricky fastenings. He would never, ever ask me if I’d paid the electricity bill yet or if I could lend him a tenner.
Now, if I daydream at all, it’s of a cottage of my own, with a log burner, a shaggy dog called something quirky like Nigel or Beryl, and a huge, soft sofa. My house would have exposed beams, one tiny bedroom, and a patio with just enough room for a swinging hammock and a few geraniums in tubs. The kitchen and living area would be all in one room and have soft lighting and candles. Each evening, I’d work my way through my mum’s recipe book, scaling the quantities down to make just enough for one. Visitors would be by invitation only. It would be bliss.
You might have guessed from all this dreaming that I’m not enjoying my life right now. For one thing, it isn’t easy looking so much like Kylie Minogue. People don’t take you seriously. Not that Kylie herself isn’t sensible – she’s probably very level-headed and organised – but she definitely hasn’t got the image of your everyday pillar of the community.
My name is Vita Craythorne and I’m a marriage guidance counsellor, so it’d be better if I was a dead ringer for someone who was a bit more sturdy and sensible. I’m quite good at giving marital advice even though I’m only thirty-two, which is ironic because my own marriage is about as much fun as a car crash.
It wasn’t always this way. Ronan and I used to love doing the same sort of things – long train journeys to Scotland or Cornwall (let’s face it, everywhere’s a long way from the Midlands), hot curries in the back streets of Bradford, late nights cuddled up in front of the fire watching black and white films, Sex on the Beach. The cocktail, not the actual thing; we never got round to that. Who knows where the sand might end up? But over the last few years, while I was nursing Mum, things went downhill in a big way for us.
Anyway, enough of this rambling. The stop press news of the day is that Ronan’s body is one day going to help others less fortunate. He made the announcement this morning just as I limped into the bedroom, still damp from the shower and with my left foot dripping with blood after standing on my razor. He’d taken ages in the bathroom so I was already late for work. He usually waits until he hears the door slam behind me before he even sticks a toe out of bed, but today he sneaked in there while I was making a cup of tea.
This isn’t the first time that Ronan’s seemed preoccupied with his own death. The idea that he’s not long for this world has been brewing for a week or two, ever since he had that dizzy spell when he was bending over to get the last bottle of vodka from the bargain bucket in Sainsbury’s.
‘I’m away into town to the solicitors to make my will,’ he said, frowning at the trail of blood on the cream carpet, ‘just in case you forget the details of what I want when the time comes.’
‘I’m not sure why you’re bothering. It’s bound to be a really boring will. Our flat’s rented and we haven’t got any children or savings, have we? Unless you know something I don’t?’