'The Candidate' by Elizabeth Graham

The beep of the incoming email alerted him just in the nick of time.  Or perhaps, in the light of subsequent events, it would’ve been better to have switched off a moment earlier.  Not looked until it was definitively too late.  But in any event he paused, back-pedalled into his email account and there it was, in bold black sans serif, a ticking time bomb he'd brought upon himself.

Midnight.  Tomorrow at 7am the polls opened and in the constituency of Nether Despair the first punters would be handed their voting papers. Near the bottom of the alphabetical list of candidates would be his name: Strong, Nick  KAD Party.

Kids And Dads. When had it had all begun?  Was it when he'd first fallen in love with flame haired Joanne or later with the twins, born barely eight months after the wedding?  It had been a whirlwind romance and a honeymoon pregnancy. Twins were always premature, weren’t they..  Such a frantic and exhausting time, barely a couple before being catapulted into the utter exhaustion of two new babies.  But oh, the joy of fatherhood!

When had the rot set in?  Was it Jo's post natal depression, her persistent avoidance of any sort of physical contact, or did he realise even then that there might be more to it?  Phone calls at odd hours, empty silences when he answered.  Stormy rows when he came home after long days and found a cold reception.  Or that time when she’d decamped to her parents in the country and didn't come back for a month.  Suddenly the twins were two years old and subtly he'd been marginalised.

And then her request for a separation: it just wasn't working this marriage, they'd married in haste. She wasn't happy, wanted a divorce.  A move to be near her parents and 'no, of course he wouldn't see as much of the twins as he'd like, it was inevitable.’  Such overwhelming sadness.

KAD had provided him with support, and hope.  Their public stunts shouted out for the rights of hurting fathers.  And they were looking for recruits, new candidates to contend the upcoming elections, why not get involved.. what did he have to lose after all?  Relations were so strained now that he hadn't seen his twins for two months and missed them desperately.  He had his rights!

The first insidious, anonymous email had arrived just after he'd announced his candidacy and his world imploded.

Red fury exploded.  Armed with an over the counter DNA testing kit he'd confronted Jo, demanded that she comply, but it was almost as if she'd been waiting for this moment, even welcomed it.  A denouement, a resolution, a finale?  Whichever, it signalled an end to this flawed relationship, but as for his standing with KAD...

It is one minute past midnight and Nick's finger is poised on the email from the lab.  Left click to open...

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