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Me and Mrs. Jones

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We’ve got a thing going on.
-Johnny Mathis

 

I suppose that a part of me always knew that John would leave me one day. Still, I at least hoped that we might make it to our first wedding anniversary before it happened. That occasion would at least have been a milestone I could place safely in the Palace and look at during the lonely times. {John has made me too sentimental. I wonder how long it will take me to get over the habit once he is gone.]

Sadly, he was apparently going to be dreadfully obvious about the whole thing as well. I was sitting at the counter examining some rather interesting algae when he came home from work. I could smell the perfume as soon as he set foot inside the door. It was clearly not the faint scent that sometimes lingered from the patients he saw. Likewise, what I smelled was not the slightly stronger memory of the particularly repulsive floral scent that Sarah wore. She still had the habit of encroaching far too much into John’s personal space. I have asked him repeatedly to avoid those moments, but he would always just give me a smile and say---not important at this time. It was not Sarah’s perfume.

John reeked of some strange woman.

He played it very coyly, though, coming in to give me a kiss on my cheek, as always. It was usual for me to have a kiss at this time of the day. “Good day?” he said.

I ignored that, quite properly.

He filled the kettle. Every afternoon, John makes us tea, and as we drink it, I tell him about the new case or the experiment I was working on. I did not think that there would be any idle, pleasant conversation today.

“Who is she?” I asked bluntly. It was my right to know, wasn’t it?

“What?” He switched the kettle on. “Who?”

I was organising my slides. “The woman who apparently spent considerable time draped all over you. She obviously favors Evening in Paris perfume, an odd choice for anyone under the age of seventy, which I assume she is.”

A faint pinkness appeared in his cheeks. I am usually very fond of that slightly embarrassed John clolour. Usually. Not this time, however. This time it just gave me an unexpected pain somewhere beneath my ribs.

“Oh,” he said finally, “the Tube was very crowded. Now that I think about it, there was a woman pressed up close to me for most of the trip.” He turned the kettle off. “I’ll have a shower.”

I watched him leave the kitchen and deliberately did not think of him in the shower. Or of how he would emerge all clean and smelling like himself again. I wondered if he would think of her while he was standing in our shower.

Even the algae seemed hateful now.

It occurred to me that when John was gone everything in the world would be hateful.

 

The next day John was not working at the clinic, so he came along with me on a case. Nothing terrible or challenging; in fact it was all wrapped up by teatime, even though a part of my mind kept thinking about how much I was going to miss John working with me when he was gone. Could we perhaps still do cases together even after he left me for the woman with terrible taste in perfume? I rather thought not. I thought it might well drive me mad to know that he had come from her bed. I know how he looks in bed, all tousled and happy. No one should ever see him like that but me. Wasn’t that part of the marriage contract?

The night before we had made love, as usual. Except that for me it did not feel usual at all. The thought that it might be the last time I would ever touch him and kiss him and feel him inside my body made me want to weep or maybe shout and throw things. But I did none of that.

I merely kissed him before he fell asleep, whispered that I loved him so much, and then I lay awake all night, cataloging his body all over again.

 

 

I was outside the clinic when John left work over an hour earlier than usual. He did not catch the Tube to go home and whatever last bit of hope I had been harbouring crashed and burned.

It was, as always, ridiculously easy to follow my husband. He was so oblivious that you would never think he’d been kidnapped off the street before. More than once. Sometimes I despair.

He arrived at a tidy brick house set behind a large Waitrose and rang the front bell. All I could see from where I was standing was that she was tall [John likes tall], with blonde hair and a rather sizable bosom. Apparently I had been ridiculous to think that John would permanently give up his previous fascination with big breasts.

Apparently I had been ridiculous over any number of things.

I could not stand there, knowing what was going on inside that house. It made my stomach hurt.

So I went home.

Except that home was not there anymore.

 

When John finally came in, he headed directly for the bedroom. “Kid threw up on me,” he said over his shoulder. “Need a shower.”

If he thought a quick exit would keep me from smelling the Evening in Paris, he was sadly mistaken.

When he emerged a few minutes later, still damp and smiling, I ignored him. I do have some pride, after all.

He apparently decided to ignore my ignoring and started to make our tea.

“So,” he finally said, setting my tea on the table and then sitting next to me on the divan. “Tomorrow night.”

Indeed. Tomorrow night.

Our planned anniversary dinner. Was he going to back out? After all what was the point now? It made no sense at all to celebrate a dead thing.

“I’m looking forward to it,” was what he actually said.

As I had been. Before the bleached blonde with the ungainly breasts took him away from me.

Angelo was closing the café to the public so that we could have it to ourselves. He was also making our favorite dishes and I had already selected a magnificent wine from Mycroft’s cellar. Since there had been no angry call, I do not believe Mycroft has noticed its absence yet.

It was going to be a romantic, wonderful evening.

That had been the plan at least.

According to my online research, the evening was undoubtedly going to be something quite different. It seemed that more frequently than one might expect, people choose significant occasions upon which to end relationships. It seemed clear that John was going to leave me on our anniversary.

That realization surprised me more than a little, because I had never known John to be gratuitously cruel.

He was looking at me with a strange little frown on his face. “You all right, Sherlock?”

“I’m fine,” I said.

Then I leaned over and buried my face in his neck, inhaling deeply, smelling the miracle that was John while I still could.

 

We both dressed in our wedding suits for the celebratory dinner. I helped John with his tie, just as I had done a year ago. Then I smoothed his hair for slightly longer than strictly necessary to ensure neatness, and he smiled at me. My heart broke a little more. We each carried a wrapped gift on the short walk to Angelo’s.

This was the most painful thing I have ever done.

The café was candlelit and quiet. Even Angelo seemed to have toned down his usual ebullience. He served each course with a minimum of fuss and then let us be.

John did most of the talking. As is undoubtedly tradition on such occasions, the conversation was primarily about our wedding and how we had ended up in that garden vowing to stay together forever. Cheap words, it seems, at least for some people. Not to me, however. I answered John when necessary, politely, but said little else. I only wanted to ask him why, but assumed there would be time for that later, unless he intended to deliver his news and then rush away. In that case, I would undoubtedly be forced to chase him down the street, tackle him to the pavement, and ask him then.

As we ate the chocolate mousse and drank the espresso, gifts were exchanged. First anniversary: Paper. I wonder if there is a proper gift choice for a last anniversary. Because John had occasionally expressed a wish to record his memories in a more traditional manner, I had given him a handmade leather Aspinal journal, with his initials embossed on the cover. I also gave him a silver Montblanc fountain pen and a bottle of Visconti ebony ink. He seemed pleased; his eyes even misted over a bit as he thanked me. I wondered if he would use the book to record his life with her.

He gave me an 18th century Latin treatise on rare poisons.

John really was perfect.

He finished his mousse and took a deep breath before speaking. I blinked rapidly several times, not knowing why, wanting desperately to put my hand over his mouth to keep the words in.

“We never danced at our wedding,” was what he said.

Well, that was certainly not what I was expecting. Had that chafed at him all this time? Surely it was not a reason to leave me for someone else, was it? The lack of a waltz at our wedding? Especially as it had been John himself who refused to dance. I would have been delighted to guide him around the ballroom floor, as I am actually very good. Mycroft and I both had lessons.

But: “Bit crap at it,” was what John had said.

So I just took his hand and we sat watching the guests.

While I was still trying to figure out what was going on, John gave a nod to someone, probably Angelo, and suddenly the café was filled with soft music. John stood and held out his hand. “Will you dance with me, Sherlock? An anniversary waltz?”

I was feeling more and more confused. “But you’re crap at it,” I mumbled.
John smiled. “Not anymore. I’ve been taking lessons.” His eyes twinkled in the candlelight. “Surprise.”

My insides trembled and I gasped. “You’re not leaving me?”

Now it was his turn to look confused. “What?”

“The perfume? The blonde with the big breasts? I thought…”

John’s face crumpled. “Oh, Sherlock…” I recognized the look on his face. It was disappointment. I had let him down again.

Suddenly, I felt the need to apologise. “I’m so sorry…I didn’t mean to doubt you, John. I’m an idiot; you know that.”

“Yes, but you’re my idiot.” After a moment, he took my hand and pulled me to my feet. “Dance with me, Sherlock?”

I nodded and took him in my arms. As always, he fit perfectly. We danced on our anniversary.

We danced for a very long time.

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