When Dublin girl Jane married local boy Jim, she thought it was for ever. But now there are cracks in their marriage that they just can’t seem to fix. Then Jim announces he’s moving out, and Jane is left to pick up the pieces of their family life. On top of that her mother decides to visit...
Determined to remain upbeat, Jane resolves to make a real success of her work, only to discover that Cutting Edge, the hairdressing empire, is opening a shop just yards away from her own humble salon. With her staff in uproar and customers deserting her in droves, Jane decides to play Cutting Edge at its own game.
Then life deals Jane and Jim one dreadful blow. As past hurts rush to the surface, they are forced to confront what drove them apart in the first place.
“Clever, frank and funny” - Bella
No matter how many times Jane dusted the mantle piece, she always had to stop whenever she came to the photo. Matt, with his big wide grin and his tousled black hair laughed out at her from the frame. It was the sort of photo that made noise. His black hair, the green grass of the Phoenix park and his red Man United jersey all produced a joyous clash of vibrant colours that made her smile. Jim had taken it. One of the few he’d ever taken of Matt. Jim was a good photographer with a great eye for a picture. She was glad he’d taken that one.
It had been a great day, she remembered. Jim had taken his camera out to the park to do some shots of greenery for some ad project he was working on. Her and the kids had accompanied him. They’d pulled up in the park, tumbled out of the car and began walking. Owen had taken his skateboard and was whizzing along in front of them. Matt ran alongside him for a bit, begging for a go, while Di snuggled up to her Dad. She was a real Daddy’s girl and had yet to discover her love of all things black. Jim had wrapped one arm about his daughter and the other about her. No, he’d put his hand into the back pocket of her jeans, she remembered. And she had put her hand into the back pocket of his. They’d walked along like that, hip to hip, he nuzzling the top of her head and turning her on something rotten.
Then Matt had wrestled the skateboard from a laughing Owen and had stood shakily on it. “Don’t,” she’d called out, trying not to laugh, knowing he’d fall.
And he had.
Right onto the grass.
And snap! Jim had left her side and taken the picture. And then he’d snapped her. And he carried that one in his wallet.
Or he used to.
She jumped. Guiltily put the picture back in its place, before turning around. Jim stood, framed in the doorway, his dark hair falling across his face. His eyes flicked to the photo and darted away again. He looked like Matt, she thought suddenly. This is what Matt might have looked like. The thought caused her to wince. “Yeah?” She made her voice over-bright.
“Look,” Jim swallowed. Moved from one foot to the other. “I’ve been thinking.”
“Yeah?” A sort of dread began in the pit of her stomach. Jim was not one for thinking about things, as far as she knew. “Thinking? About what?”
“And well,” Jim swallowed again. “It’s not working, is it?”
She didn’t answer. Instead she felt her heart sort of swell up inside her. And her stomach gave a weird lurch.
“I think, and well, maybe it’s for the best, I think I should move out.”
Move out? She stared at him. “What?”
He met her gaze for the first time. “D’you think that would be best?”
Best? Did she think it would be for the best? What kind of a stupid question was that? The memory of that day in the Park was only one memory. There were so many more. The time they’d bought the house and christened every room. The birth of Di when he’d picked up the wrong baby in the nursery and brought it into her. The time he’d phoned her to tell her that he was coming home early so that they could ‘get in some decent sex’ before the kids came home from school, only to find he was talking to his mother-in-law, who informed him that she wasn’t in the least attracted to him, though thanks for the offer. The time she’d cooked a birthday dinner for him and he’d got food poisoning. The funny times. The erotic times. The bloody wonderful times. And the sad times. “Do I think it would be for the best?” she asked, her tone sarcastic. “Is that a joke?”
“So you actually want me to tell you if you moving out would be for the best?”
“Oh forget it!” He turned around.
“Like you’re trying to forget, is that it?” She was gratified to see his shoulders stiffen. “There are some things you can’t forget, Jim. Leaving is not going to change that!”
He turned around. His dark eyes looked hopelessly at her. “It’s because I can’t forget that I’m leaving,” he said, and his voice rose too, though he didn’t sound as aggressive as her. He never could. “We had good times Jane. Great times. That’s why I’m going. We don’t have that anymore.”
“But if we tried, we could have.” She hated the plea in her voice. But this was the only man she’d ever loved.
“We’ve tried.” His voice was flat.
“I’ve tried, you mean,” she said. “You haven’t even talked to me once. You’ve never told me what went on in your head that time when –”
“That doesn’t matter!” He closed his eyes and bit his lip and when he looked at her again, she knew that no matter what she said, even if she told him that it wasn’t for the best, he was still going to leave. And damn it, he wasn’t going to take her dignity along with everything else.
“What about the kids,” she tried to hit him where it hurt most. “What will they think?”
Jim bit his lip again. She used to love seeing him do that. “I’ll tell them – OK? They might be happier anyway.”
She didn’t know what to say to that. She never knew what to say to Jim anymore. Everything she thought she knew about him was gone. He was different to what she thought. She reckoned he was different to what he thought too. “And where will you go?”
“Fred said he’d let me stay for a bit.”
Fred. Jesus. She must have rolled her eyes because Jim said, a bit sharply, “Yeah, well, I won’t have much money, will I? I mean, I think we should keep the house, don’t you?”
“I dunno” her tone was sarcastic. “Do you think it would be for the best?”
She bowed her head. “Right,” she snapped. “Let’s keep the house.”
“If that’s what you want.”
Jim winced. It wasn’t what he wanted. Of course it wasn’t. He wanted things to be the way they used to be. He wanted Jane to be happy and him to be happy. He wanted her respect again but he’d lost that. His eyes flicked to the photo she’d been holding when he’d come into the room. His best shot ever. Bloody photo. Every time he looked at it – which wasn’t often – it seemed to mock him. “It’s not what I want Jane,” he said. “But, I guess it’s just the way things are.”
She was about to tell him that the way things were was because they were acting the way they were, but it was too late. He’d turned his back and walked out.