A light layer of dust clings to a family portrait on the wall above the fireplace. A collection of small hand prints lay dotted around the bottom panes of the French doors. Remnants of a glittery sticker are tangled in the fibres of a grey faux fur rug. All evidence that someone lives here, that there is life within these walls. A house. A home. A place where you eagerly wait to return to. A place of warmth, love and laughter. A place where your heart is. Usually.
‘I did it. I dropped off the kids at mum’s and now it’s time for me to get ready.’
Lanaya had not been very enthusiastic over the last few days as the tension between her and her husband had not given many reasons to be happy. But today is a special day so special effort needs to be made because maybe this time they will have an enjoyable evening. Maybe.
After an invigorating shower, Lanaya donned her ‘good draws’, dabbed on the fragrance her husband bought for her last anniversary and slipped on her little black dress. Keeping her look simple, Lanaya applied some clear lipgloss and mascara after removing the curlers from her hair.
Once Lanaya was ready she put on a light robe, walked downstairs and sat in front of the television while she waited for her husband. He was surprisingly late. Delroy, a man you could set your watch to had not yet arrived home and this made Lanaya a little worried.
‘Maybe I should send a text.’ Lanaya looked at her phone. There were no messages or missed calls. Lanaya started to write a text message, but before she could hit send, she heard the key turn in the door.
Lanaya walked to the door to greet her husband. Swallowing back the urge to complain, Lanaya coaxed her facial muscles to smile and hoped that the annoyance she was feeling did not show in her voice.
‘Hey hun, welcome back.’
‘Hmm.’ There was no more than that as a response from Delroy who walked past her to put down his work bag and hang up his coat.
Lanaya could feel her facial muscles start to twitch, signalling the beginning of the end of her patience.
‘I didn’t know you’d be this late, but I am ready to go so if you get ready quickly we can still make our 7 o'clock reservation.’
Delroy rubbed his face and massaged the back of his neck. He looked tense and closed off. His whole body just screamed, “I’m annoyed”. He still had his back to Lanaya who remained standing by the front door. Lanaya, his wife. The mother of his children. The woman who he is due to celebrate an anniversary with. The woman he once pursued, he now barely acknowledged her existence, let alone noticed how she looked.
‘I just came through the door and you’re rushing me to get ready?’
Delroy finally turned towards Lanaya, handing her a slightly creased envelope he had stashed in his back pocket.
Lanaya took the envelope. Her smile finally gave way. Her face darkened as her heart ached from the sting of disappointment. This pain had become all too familiar yet still unwelcomed. She did not lift her eyes from the small envelope in her hands. Even without seeing him, Lanaya could imagine the look on Delroy’s face. Unbothered. Unmoved. Annoyed perhaps. But not the face of one who wished to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Delroy took a seat on the couch, placed his headphones in his ears, and took out his mobile. Delroy made it clear he had no intention of getting up any time soon.
Lanaya made one last attempt to rescue their date night.
'Hey, how about we have a relaxing evening? We don't have to cook, we can enjoy a meal at the restaurant and then go for a walk. My mum has the kids so-
‘Are you being serious right now?’ Delroy looked towards her, cutting her off mid-sentence. He removed one of his headphones and paused the video on his phone.
‘I’m tired and I had something to eat before I left so I’m not even hungry. You might as well cancel. We’d be late anyway. I don’t know why you made such a late reservation knowing full well how busy I've been lately.’
Crack. It was as if the pain in her heart was almost audible.
Lanaya could feel her temperature rise as her anger boiled within her. Her heart beated harder. Her breathing got faster. She clenched her jaw and pursed her lips trying with every fibre of her being to not cuss this man out. Lanaya took a deep breath and swallowed the lump forming in her throat.
‘Fine. You stay there. Doesn’t matter anyway, it was only our anniversary dinner. Thanks for the card. Happy Anniversary’.
Lanaya walked quickly towards the stairs to go to her bedroom. Sitting on the edge of the bed Lanaya opened the small envelope handed to her by Delroy. She felt like she was being trolled by the words ‘Happy Anniversary’ written between two lovey-dovey teddy bears staring back at her. The ninety-nine pence price sticker was still stuck to the back.
Inside the card there were no extra words written by her husband besides ‘To Lanaya, from Delroy.’
Lanaya placed the card on her nightstand and shook her head with a sad smile. ‘Typical’ she thought to herself. The taste of disappointment was something she knew all too well. Her heart was heavy and her eyes stung with tears, but not enough for them to fall. It wasn’t always like this. There were times when she could not wait to come home and spend time with her husband, but somewhere along the way, their love started to grow cold and cracks in their relationship started to form. This is a far cry from the feelings she felt on her wedding day. That day was like a fairytale for her, but this is her reality. Alone on her wedding anniversary.