'Billy Gene' by Padraig Hanratty

…And then, the icing on the poison cake, she says we have to give each other space. Seems I've been suffocating her lately. No more Billy Gene for her… That's the bombshell Andrea dropped on me last week. Made her case, packed her bags and off she went. No right to appeal... Don’t know what sparked this all off. Well, sure, I had an internal freak attack when we bumped into Saoirse in the supermarket last week. That was awkward! And Saoirse was in flying form, all psycho polite to Andrea and throwing daggers at me with her eyes. But, fair play to her, she didn't even hint about… any of that stuff. I thought maybe that was why Andrea got on her high horse for the high road. But she knows nothing about… any of that stuff. And she's never even met little Ronan. Maybe she just needs to unwind a bit. She’s certainly tightly wound these days! She's been working late a lot on those bullshit projects. Honestly, how can she expect me to take an interest in her projects when they're so boring? Of course, it cuts both ways. She doesn't take any interest in my work either. Then again, even I don't take much interest in my work. I always have pleasanter… distractions… to keep me engaged in life. It’s good to keep engaged... Oh yeah, that was another thing she was always going on about, the engagement. I think two years is perfectly reasonable. Down the aisle and down the hill! But that became the new obsession lately. When are we going to finally set the date? Not that she has much interest any more in other sides of marriage. The sunnier side of the street. She always has a headache whenever I bring up that particular subject. The priest must have dropped her when he was baptising her! No woman could have that many headaches... Saoirse never had any headaches, that's for sure! Of course, Ronan was a bit unexpected. But I don't care what she says, I've done the maths and it doesn’t add up. The kid is not my son. And we took all the necessary precautions. That's one problem that can't be blamed on me... Andrea was always great at pointing out my problems. No matter how late she worked in the office with Tom, she could still find time to find fault. Too much drinking. So I cut down… a bit. Too much smoking. So I quit… more or less. And then I could taste just how awful her cooking was! Well, don't have to worry about that for a while anyway... And I never gave out about anything. Her faults run into the hundreds, if you take the time to count them all. But I never complained. Not even about her working all those late hours in the office with Tom. Every night, some weeks... What the hell got into her? I'm pretty sure Saoirse said nothing…

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