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He worked hard for our future, too. At least twice a week he'd drag himself home three hours after he finished his shift. "Sorry, Love. I did it again," he'd say, as he staggered through the door. "It" was falling asleep on the tube, going round and round the Circle Line. Every time it happened, I rubbed his back and got him a cold beer. I let him chose the TV programs, and I didn't ask him to wash up.
Then last Thursday evening I opened the door to the police. I thought they'd got the wrong address.
But the police came in and sat on my sofa. "A heart attack," they said. "He didn't suffer."
I was dreaming, right? Heart attacks happened to other people, and Chas was only forty-three.
The policeman made me a cup of tea, and the policewoman went on talking in a soothing voice. They were very kind.
I started to believe it.
Then I assumed Chas had fallen asleep on the tube for the last time. But the policewoman said, "Er, no. Your husband died in bed." Another woman's bed.
All the oxygen left the room.
Falling asleep on the tube, my backside! What a bonehead I'd was. He'd been seeing this floozy for months.
And he wasn't even there to scream at.
I was pretty much off my head for the next two weeks, as I made all the arrangements. I kept having shouting matches with an imaginary Chas.
I even had one in the street, until I realized the looks I was getting.
The cremation was a nightmare. I didn't say anything to Chas's parents, because I didn't know what to say. They didn't say anything to me, either.
This morning I collected his ashes. I was surprised at how heavy they were, and how banal their green, plastic container looked. Nineteen years of marriage and a big, fat lie didn't look like much. I put it into a sports bag and walked to the tube station. At St Pancras I changed onto the Circle line.
And when I reached my stop, I got off and deliberately left Chas under the seat to go around and around.
I didn't look back.
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