Tui looks outside his bedroom in front of the house to a familiar view. It's early on a Sunday morning. The street is empty. The morning off is being spent in bed or at a leisurely breakfast. Most of the curtains in the row of conjoined houses in front are drawn. The sun is even trying to shine through the misty sky. There is palest blue tint in the grey-white as the sky tries to peek through.
It's his last morning here.
His suitcase is open and all of his meager belongings are in it.
Tui wraps his purple dressing gown around him and paddles down the corridor to the girls' bedroom. He quietly opens the door and stands at the foot of their beds. His beautiful girls. Their eyes are closed, their wonderful mouths slightly open. He would not be here when they wake. It's best that way.
He tiptoes past his wife's room. She has slept in her own room for the last couple of years. In the 15 or so years of their marriage, they had never talked as much as they did last night while the girls were out.
Brenda cooked roast beef and vegetables, unusual because she normally reserved this for Sunday lunch. They even opened a bottle of French wine, instead of the usual beer or Guinness. Tui wondered what the occasion was.
They ate quietly. The only sounds were the clinking of knives and forks on plates and the ticking kitchen clock. No sound at all came from the rest of the world.
"I want you to go," his wife said quietly.
"I can't live with you anymore."
There was silence once more.
Tui rose from the table, scraped food scraps off his plate and put his plate in the sink. It was his job to wash up later. He topped up Brenda's glass with wine and took the bottle and his glass to the table.
Brenda made herself a pot of tea and brought it to their sitting room in front.
Their long conversation was amicable, like that between life-long friends that they are. As his wife spoke, Tui felt a flow of salty tears rolling back down into his chest.
She said that it was like living with nobody, the way he sat there in his armchair and not do anything. She wanted someone who was at least alive, who would take her out, travel and do things together. They didn't even sleep in the same bedroom anymore.
In all their talking, Tui could only say that he would try to change because he did not want to have to leave her and his lovely girls. Brenda said that she had been thinking this through for a while now. This was her house that her mother gave her, and she wanted him to leave it. She would find herself a new life. It was best that way.
Then she stood up, brushed her lips gently on his cheek, squeezed her husband's shoulder slightly and went upstairs. He heard her door closing.
Tui spent the rest of the evening finishing the bottle of wine, tidied up the table and washed up the dishes. He went up to his room and started to pack.
Now he dresses in his Sunday best in his favourite dark-blue soft woolen pullover that Brenda bought for him last Christmas and closes his bag. He tiptoes down the stairs, pausing a long moment before clicking the front door shut.
He has no key to get back in again if he forgets something.
As he walks down the street, the milkman rolls past in his quiet electric van, giving Tui a wave. Goodbye, Milkman. Goodbye, Albert Street, Goodbye, Bournemouth.
Goodbye, 15 years.
Tui finds a sheltered bench in the park and puts down his suitcase. His train does not leave for another two hours yet. In front of him is the familiar bay, placid and grey. It was never his bay or his town.
Suddenly Tui is back at the family house back home. He is seated comfortably on the lounge and Brenda is beside him, their legs touching.
Oh how he loved her and was so proud of her good looks. He could look at her long face all day and all night, and he did. Her lovely hair was glowing with reflected light just now next to him. He smelled her scent. The memory of her lanky thighs, white as alabaster, and the soft tiny hair everywhere on her skin stirs him even now
As a newly-married couple just returning home, they were quite a hit at the family's get-togethers and parties. The family soon got used to the fact that their son had a farang wife and showed off the new English family member. Because Brenda was quiet and shy, it was easier for her to blend in with the Thai ways.
The enclosing yellow walls of the family home became theirs. The mantle of pink and purple bougainvillea over the big porch in front of the house became their welcoming bouquet.
Tui begins to walk down to the esplanade. The cold green water of the English Channel sloshes and sucks at the brown rocks on the beach. Walkers are rugged up against the late autumn chill even as the sun is shining.
He remembers their many holidays by the sea where warm surf bathed their bare limbs. There were long ozone walks right at the place where the sea ended on the sand. There were long soft hours on the wooden balcony, waiting for the sun to dip into the sea, the moon and stars to appear and the lights of the fishing boats to show where the horizon was.
The train station is ahead. This was normally his week-day routine to commute on the very early train into London to his job at the Bangkok Bank in London and returning late for home.
He turns around and looks now at the city that slopes down to the sea. At exactly there on the hill, the girls should now be waking up to their breakfast.
It was too painful for him to write them a note and it was too impersonal anyway. He wonders how Brenda was going to tell them. How is he going to tell himself?
Tui shuts the train's door. He takes his seat by the window. The trains leaves Bournemouth.
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