Soon enough I’ll be fifty years old. One day I’ll be sixty. If I’m lucky, I might even make it to seventy, but I won’t ever be somebody’s wife again. I’d like to not be called Mrs Simpson anymore. It’s not an accurate description of who I am. I was Mrs Simpson for twenty-two years. In my head, I’ll always be a Smith. Like my Dad. I wonder if my Mr Simpson and Mr Smith have bumped into each other in the great beyond? My husband liked my Dad but liked my Grandpa more. They both got a kick out of betting on the horses. My grandpa was Mr Lawrence. My Mum didn’t go back to Lawrence, but then older widows don’t.
If I go back to Smith, it might cause a stramash at airports when I travel with my children. But then my girlie is old enough to be married herself and it’s only a few years until my 6-foot little boy will be off to uni and we maybe won’t go on holiday all together ever again. Which does open up the opportunity to go back to Smith. Would I be Ms Smith with a zzz sound? Does Miss mean never married or presently unmarried? My sister is Miss Smith but that’s because her man had a baby with somebody else six years ago. I tell you, if I’d got my hands on him. I’m glad she’s not his Mrs Buchan. It would be nice for her to meet somebody though. I hadn’t realised she’d been single for so long.
I don’t want to remarry because the hours are long, the feedback’s lousy and at the end it’s just too painful to bear. Now I have a whole double bed to myself. I remember the day I changed the sheets and put the pillows back in one stack in the centre of the headboard and not in two piles, his and hers. I felt I was betraying something but now I don’t even think about it.
In a few years, I suppose, I won’t even be a Mum, not in any active, doing way: cooking, laundry, sitting up till 4am to hear the key in the lock and the stumble upstairs. I’ll be Mum on Christmas Day, maybe on my birthday or when an extra bill strains their finances. Who will I be the rest of the time? The woman who lives all alone at the top of the hill?
When I sell this house and move, I won’t even be the woman at the top of the hill. How will I introduce myself to my new neighbours? Will I get away with just my first name like Madonna, Prince or Beyoncé? Maybe to them I’ll just be the woman who moved into number whatever, no name at all, or the one who waits all day to take her bin in and doesn’t care for mowing grass.
Just because I won’t be married or have young kids doesn’t mean I’ll be nobody, does it? I could be someone who has a visitor who arrives with bunches of flowers and wine on Saturday nights. Or even two visitors. One on a Wednesday AND one on a Saturday. (More than that would be an effort). Maybe one day I could have a bidey-in? That would be fine. Somebody who’d look out the window for me coming home and have the kettle on. Somebody who’d take my bin in as soon as the lorry’s away and cheerfully mow the grass all summer long. Then I could be the one who is always smiling. The one who’s found a way to fall in love again.