Isabella picked up the little black box from her jewel case. Opened it and saw her wedding ring. Half a carat diamond and gold. A flashback struck her on the time before the divorce.
““Mom, isn’t it nice to come home?”
David had a smile all over his face. Isabella smiled back, but her eyes did not participate. Maybe eyes have their own happiness heart that could only be touched with enough joy. Now it was not even close. There had been a reason that Isabella had spent the summer in her mother Margaret’s summer house, which suddenly had become an option.
It was more a matter of what you longed away from than what you longed for. Isabella had divorce papers already folded in her handbag. David was six now, and after his pre-school period the relationship between her and her husband Marcus started to fuss – just as her father’s outboard motor. He was almost always had to pull the string at least twenty times before the engine started. And often fuel supply problems. Marcus was one of those outboard motors. Isabella had to nag twenty times for something to happen. And now, not a drop of petrol left.
The summer there in the summer house had been bearable though. Actually unusually good. Her grandmother had taken her role seriously. Had baked waffles and gone fishing with David at the pier. Isabella had been solo for several hours without demands. Hours for reflection, recapitulation and surrender. Required hours.
Isabella had put the kettle on, buttered a triangular Leksand crisp bread and added three cucumber slices. Just like she used to do at home. Her world was three. The family, Marcus and David. She used to forget to count herself. The kettle had hissed when the first drops of boiling water spilled over and landed sprawling on the plate. Isabella had been brought back from her brooding for a second. She regretted that she did not include some red tea bags from home, for Margaret only used Earl Grey. But you have to face reality. Earl Grey. And then the couch with an interior design magazine she had bought in the kiosk at the station in Katrineholm, before the bus to Österåker had departed.
The tea moment was perfectly OK, but her relationship was not at all OK. Quite the contrary. KO meaning Knock-Out. Perhaps the family was already counted out or at least knocked down again. That marriage was a “Rocky Road” had taken on a whole new meaning. Marcus had once tricked her to rent the movie “Rocky” on the pretext that it was a “classic”. She had not understood anything of the film and almost fell asleep before it was finally over. Rocky had been as bruised as Isabella’s marriage was now. And no, he did not win the match either. But in the film love had won.
Here in reality Isabella knew that she did not have Marcus in her corner. If Marcus at least once had shown an ounce of attention, a moment of tenderness, or one second of sensuality. The job and stuff seemed to be everything he saw.
Marcus had always got the latest mobile phones and those apps that “were good to have.” Isabella smiled to herself. Seemed like a man’s mobile phone was the same as a girl’s handbag. A lot of things in it that you think you may have use for but rarely use. Isabella sometimes wondered if Marcus didn’t see his family as one of all the apps – the one he used the very least.
Then it was all unpaid overtime, travel and that architecture kickoff. Marcus had said “no architects get paid for over time.” In Isabella’s ears it sounded insane to have to work around the clock without getting anything extra for it.
She sometimes wondered if the architectural profession was a kind of love calling that you are dealt through divine interference. The result was in any case she did not see much of him, and once he was home he was tired and irritable. Did not give the impression of universal love – not even in relation to the two people he lived with.
Lived? He slept in all cases at home most nights. The bed was unmade in the morning in the Marcus’s room. Since a few years back they had separate bedrooms. Marcus did not want to disturb her when he came home late or have to work early, he said. Isabella felt alone, something she had not imagined being when married. When David sometimes had nightmares and wanted to get into the mother on the night she welcomed him immediately. At least someone to share the bed with.
“Together” was a word that did not taste good in Isabella’s mouth any longer and nothing that she could relate to Marcus. Ensuring that David came to school, attending parent meetings, Doing laundry, dish-washing, making beds, cleaning and all that she naively thought that Marcus would also share with her – had ended up only in her lap. The only argument was that he earned more money per month. Money that was meant to pay for a new car.
Isabella had taken a sip of tea and the last chew on her bread. “A new car,” she thought. It was o crazy to even own a car if both of them lived and worked in Stockholm. Marcus’s father had always had great cars. Isabella had wondered if she had a man with the wrong father. Or the wrong father to her child. But David was in all cases the right kid – the best.
Then it had rattled outside. David had been proud coming home with their catch. No child was ever so proud of two minnows! His grandmother had been quite proud of herself too, of having made a successful last outing with David before he and Isabella were leaving for Stockholm on the afternoon train.
Now they stood outside the door on Södermalm in Stockholm. Marcus should be at work. It was just six o’clock. Marcus had the last year worked at least until seven and sometimes even later. “Home” as David said. The condominium she and Marcus had bought just before David was born. It’s been a while since Isabella felt that the apartment was a place to thrive in. There were too many black moments, too many sad hours in the wallpaper. Isabella’s fingers touched the divorce papers when she was digging for the keys.
“Mom, shouldn’t we enter already?”
Isabella could not find the keys in her handbag.
“Wait a minute honey. Mom needs to find the keys first.”
“But Mom – you put them in the suitcase because you would not have use for them for a while, you said.”
There, in one of the side pockets, they were. Perhaps it was Isabella’s subconscious that did not want to pass through that door. The apartment door was of grey steel. A matching picture. Cold, hard, impenetrable and dull.
Isabella turned the key and opened.
The hallway did not look like usual. It was clean. And it smelled like homemade bread. For a moment she thought that Marcus was going to sell the apartment. Home staging. Then she saw it. The picture in a gold frame. And the text.
Sonnet 155 (one love, five elements, five senses)
It’s right to write a loving poem to you
So soft my thoughts has brought a feeling bright
At last I show my love and praise its lovely hue
Be gentle with my heart, my Love, tonight
Eternally a love for you I’ll feel
Lights shine so bright and makes me feel so good
Loud beats my heart and makes my life more real
And hours will fly before it’s understood
My Love I see that we belong as one
A life with you is still a dream for me
Relationship with you is always fun
Come here my dear young deer and set me free
United here we stand and see our fate
So grand to know our love is always great
Marcus had not only saved the text. He had hung it so it was the first thing everybody saw when they arrived. The sonnet he had courted Isabella with. Number 155. Shakespeare had only written 154. She saw a floury smiling Marcus showing up with a plate of cinnamon buns.
“Welcome home, family!”
The handbag was not meant to be opened again this evening.”
But this was an obvious flashback. Isabella also remembered the following backlash. Only the diamond lasted – the relation was not forever. But she had learned a lesson she could use later.