It was a normal Saturday. I had scrubbed the cat vomit off the step, hand-washed the dog blanket (covering me in fur in the process), bathed the guinea pigs and re-potted the dying herbs (like that was going to save them). I was, of course, filthy and smelled like wet dog.
While I scoffed a chocolate bar for lunch I realised that maybe even more potting mix would bring the herbs back from extinction.
There were no parks at the hardware, so I pulled in a block away.
As I got out of my filthy, wet-dog-smelling car, I heard, “Meg!”
I pretended not to hear it because I wasn’t in the mood for stopping to chat. But the caller was persistent. So I bustled into the hardware and hid in the garden section.
I was there for only a minute when –
“Meg? Is that you?”
I turned, annoyance turning to horror, to find my ex (who lives three hours away and had no discernible reason for being there) grinning down at me – perfect teeth sparkling and looking gorgeous in tight jeans and t-shirt.
I had thought that moving to a small town would mean I would never have to have that awkward moment where you bump into one – he with his fabulous new wife and perfect children (so happy!), me with chocolate-stained track suit pants and child screaming I left her in the homewares department. But oh, no.
“Uh, hi!” I said, trying for bright and sparkly, but sounding instead like some obscure piece of road-grading equipment. “Fancy meeting you here.”
His eyes swept over me and he smirked. “You look just the same.”
A woman appeared at his side. There are no words that would do justice to her impeccable clothes, her indefinable style, her model good looks, so I’ll just say she wasn’t my kind of person.
“This is my wife Bunny,” said the ex.
“Bunny, you say?” I attempt to smother a laugh and barked out a cough instead. I extended my hand in an attempt to appear unflustered and polite.
She looked at my hand like it was covered in germs. Which it possibly was, but that’s beside the point.
I coughed again and some spit came out and landed on her expensive watch. We both looked at it.
“Heh, heh,” I said. “Sorry about that.”
“So… No kids then?” I said.
“No way. With the world like it is, more kids is the last thing we all need.”
“Sure. Just relaxing today then?”
“We’re off to Japan next week for some well-deserved R&R,” Ex said as he put a well-muscled arm around his wife. “Thought we’d come down here first. Bunny’s been dying to see the local vineyards and wants to cross it off the list.”
I forced a smile.
“Well, it’s been great seeing you. I better dash. I’m in the middle of a few things.” I tried to back away but tripped over a terracotta pot that some fool placed in the walkway. As I fell, I saw Miss Bunny hide a smile.
Ex stared at me as I lay on the ground. “You really haven’t changed, have you Meg?”
I looked over at Bunny, who was also staring, and I sort of snapped. I stood up and faced them, totally owning my chocolate-and-fur track suit and said, “No, I haven’t. Why would I need to when I’m already so perfect?”
They both stared at me.
“Have a nice time in Japan!” I called over my shoulder.
Would have been a nice exit, except I tripped over the pot again and went head first into some garden mulch.
My husband met me at my front door and picked some straw from my hair. “Bad day?” he asked.
I told him all about it.
“You really are perfect,” he said. “Even if you do smell like wet dog and – what is that, chocolate? Tell me you didn’t have chocolate for lunch again?”
Then he smiled and hugged me.
The Ex can keep his arms and his Bunny, and his trip to Japan. I’m already perfect in a totally original and amazing way.