When my husband and I first married we used to read a lot. Rory liked hardbacks and I liked trilogies. We both adored hardback trilogies though, especially the fantasy stories with gold, embossed covers. Sometimes we would luxuriously trace our fingers over them, losing ourselves in the scent of the pages and imaginative descriptions. Often I would be transported to another dimension and enjoyed myself so much I would weep, even beg Rory not to stop and turn the lights out so I could read another chapter. I should have known back then, when he began to turn the lights off progressively earlier, that he was losing interest in out hardback trilogies and was secretly reading other books under the covers.
It was after our first child, when I discovered a passion for Thomas the Tank Engine, that I knew for certain; Rory was hiding books. And magazines. Sometimes I found them on top of the wardrobe or underneath the mattress. I’d had my suspicions when Rory had begun to read short stories but I tried hard to keep him interested as deep down I knew I was more beautiful and knowledgeable than other woman. In fact, I knew other woman were jealous of me and especially my rare editions of Pride and Prejudice.
The situation worsened when Rory began working late and, one day, to quell my frustrations at the library being closed for a refit I decided to give the bathroom a thorough clean. It was there that I found it, The Book, wrapped in plastic and hidden in the cistern. I knew for certain then that Rory had betrayed me. He hadn't been working late: he’d been attending late night book signings at Waterstones. Only now it wasn't just short stories, magazines and dog eared copies of Private Eye to destroy my sense of self-worth there was another book, a “special” book. A book that I was now going to tear apart chapter by chapter, page by page, for its casual abuse of our reading material, for its ruthless assault on my senses and for destroying everything Rory and I had once held dear.
I pulled the gaudy red book out of the plastic in abject horror. I opened the cover and read the inscription.
To Rory, Love Joanna.