Chapter 8 - The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side
I got home before Gilderoy arrived. I unpacked, dealt with mail. I thought about the story I would tell him. I'd say I had been to Mykonos. That his book had inspired my destination. I'd say I had spent my days on the beach and in quaint, old Mykonos Town; that I had spent the nights in a club. That I hadn't done much else – just a very lazy, very lovely holiday.
I heard Gilderoy come home. I heard him pause in the hall. He noticed I was back, and, as I expected, he shouted, "Rita, darling! For all that's wonderful! It's Cocktail Time, my dear. Or should I say 'Ouzo Time'?"
I went to the hall and we hugged. He steered us both to the living room and started to mix a Tequila Sunrise. The drink he had made during our first Cocktail Time, so long ago. "How was your holiday?" he asked. "Such a last-minute thing! I don't even know where you went, darling."
I looked at his beautiful, blue eyes.
I looked at that wonderful smile.
The last things Evgenia had seen before her mind went.
I took a deep breath, and I said, "Rhodes. I went to Rhodes."
The next day, I studied the 'Flat for rent' section of the newspaper. I found that, with my new salary, the options weren't bad. Not bad at all. I checked out two or three places and made a decision.
That evening, I told Gilderoy I'd move out. "It's been wonderful, darling, but let's be realistic. I need more space to write that Dippet biography. You can't write your next book at the dining room table – you need a proper study, too."
Gilderoy protested briefly. Very briefly. Then he agreed. "You're right as always. I do need a bit more space – to prepare my next trip. I'm doing research right now. That thing with the hag – that's the real me. To go places, to rid the world of its pests. And then to write a book about it. I'm thinking Yetis next. Or trolls. And who knows, one day, when I'm too old to travel, I may start my own range of hair care products. I feel like the world's my oyster."
We agreed that it had been fabulous when it lasted.
We both got a bit teary.
In the end, we hugged.
We told each other that, even though we wouldn't live together anymore, we'd be Flatmates Forever.
We promised to meet up, frequently, for Cocktail time.
Even at the time I knew it was a lie. Gilderoy knew it was a lie. We said it, nonetheless.
"Gil went off with some local biddy. Old enough to be his mother, ugly as they make them. Said she had fascinating stories to tell."
I couldn't go on as if nothing had happened.
"I'd never be able to come up with a plot, darling. This is just what happened – well, not really happened …"
I'd never be able to forget Evgenia, gazing into her fog under the bright, Greek sun.
"A Hag, darling, a real one. And I managed to do something about her. I've the most wonderful story to write."
He had. And he could write it. Nothing could stop him now. Nothing would stop him. Except, perhaps, the thought of Obliviating me. Then again, perhaps not even that.
I would never know, would I? Unless I cared to test him.
"I'm thinking Yetis next. Or trolls. And who knows, one day, when I'm too old to travel, I may start my own range of hair care products. I feel like the world's my oyster."
I told myself Gilderoy deserved his oyster. I told myself it was time to go.
"I'm the fucking best twister in the world, Rita, darling. Aren't I? Aren't I?"
You were, Gil, darling. You were.