“I just feel so angry,” she said. “I want to get all his things and tear them up and throw them in the street and smash the car up and humiliate him ... but the children ... I can’t do those things because I care so much about ...” she broke down. “That’s the difference, isn’t it?” she said eventually. “That’s how he can do this and live with himself, because he doesn’t really care?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t know.
“I feel such a fool,” she said. “It all makes sense now. Times when he had special sales exhibitions on, nights when the traffic was bad. Things he missed, Penny in the concert at the Royal Northern College, “her eyes shone with a harsh conviction, “and the time Rachel was knocked down. I was in MRI with her and he was working, or so he said. He’d probably got his feet up ... I blamed the job. I never once thought ... not even an affair.”
She thought for a moment. “We’ve been struggling; the bills, I can’t keep Adam in shoes and trousers, everything has to be the cheapest, discounts, second hand. We haven’t had a holiday in years. No bloody wonder is it? He’d be paying out for two families ...” She choked on the thought.
“How can you be so wrong about someone? When I met Ken he’d just been promoted. I thought he was Mr Wonderful. He had a great sense of humour ...”
She talked on recalling their courtship and marriage, the ups and downs, what had attracted her to him, how he was with the children when they were babies. The sort of reminiscence people do when someone has died, trying to capture a sense of the person as they were. Or in this case as they were before they were unmasked. Her account was coloured by a bitter irony that bled into everything. As she talked, the past was being rewritten in the light of his betrayal. Memories tainted; the picture skewing like water bleaching old photographs. Every so often she’d interrupt herself, taken aback anew by the magnitude of his wrongdoing and its implications. “What do I tell the children?” she’d say, and “all those lies,” but most of all, “how could he?” and “the bastard.”
“You need some legal advice,” I told her. “Do you know anyone?”
She shook her head.
“I’ll give you a number. It’s likely he’ll be prosecuted. Bigamy is a criminal offence. Sentences vary but he could go to prison.”
“Good,” she said bitterly. “I hope he rots there. How could he? I just can’t understand it. I can’t. It doesn’t make any sense.”