In preparation for an article I was writing, I had interviewed 9 divorced women – each with their own tale to tell. While writing the article, I thought of every single one of them and would hold them in my thoughts while I grieved for them. This is a series of fictional stories, inspired by their lives and strength.
Any resemblance to real persons or other real-life entities is purely coincidental. All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.
The sun hasn’t yet risen and Bee Leng has woken up ahead of her alarm clock again. Fluttering her eyelids open, she looks at the ceiling fan whirring round and round…..she takes a moment to register how she’s feeling today. “How are you feeling today?” She places a hand on her chest and takes a deep breath in.
She allows her body to slowly creak and groan awake – aware that ageing has changed her body and grateful that she’s still able to actively move around and do the things she want to independently.
Today is Thursday and she and her group of close friends are going to the yoga studio. After their hatha yoga class, they all sit in the cafe section of Yoga Movement at Robertson Quay and have brunch.
“So…what do you mean by he looked at you in a suggestive manner?” Bee Leng’s friend, Amy said, in between sips of her chai tea latte.
“I’ve known him for so many years, the look he gave me wasn’t innocent. It felt like the good old days when we used to flirt back and forth.”
“And then so what??! He married you, decided he didn’t want the marriage anymore, married some young chick and now wants to win back your attention?? Bee Leng, seriously this Paul is not a gentleman at all. He doesn’t deserve you even saying his name” Rani exclaims animatedly.
Bee Leng’s two best friends – Rani and Amy have seen her through it all. They were her bridesmaids during the wedding, they were there when Sarah was born, they were also there when she had to move to her own place after Paul declared he was abandoning her.
In that moment, Bee Leng felt herself being drawn back into a memory – one she has battled with since the day IT happened.
5 years before
“Paul, come pick out the fabric for the curtains. What do you think – this or this? I like this colour better but the material is not as good. This one however, is sturdier and look, it says here that there’s a 3-year warranty,” Bee Leng says to him.
Bee Leng and Paul are standing in a shop along Balestier road, about to buy some things for the house.
“Leng…..” Paul has a sunken look on his face. “I don’t want to get these curtains.” His voice is soft and meek, and he’s avoiding her gaze.
“Okay yeah I agree. Neither of them are very nice. Let’s go to another store.” Bee Leng remarks.
“No, I mean. I don’t want to….I am….” His voice is hesitant.
“I’m leaving you, Leng”
She hears his words and even registers them but she’s immediately confused. Huh??? and What??
After what seemed like an eternity, Paul takes her by her elbow and ushers her out of the shop. She lets him.
“Leng, say something.”
“What do you mean, you’re leaving me?” Bee Leng hears herself say.
“I mean…I met someone else. And maybe if I didn’t meet her, things would be okay. But Leng, you also know that things between us haven’t been the best. We’re not communicating anymore, we don’t have common interests, and we’re not even sleeping together. I’m sorry. I just can’t hide my affection for her anymore and I want to be with her.”
“How long have you been seeing her for?”
“Two and a half months”
“You’ve only just met her, and you’re willing to throw our marriage away for her?”
Bee Leng doesn’t even hesitate before saying, “Give me her phone number now. I’m calling her.”
“If you want to leave me, at least let me meet the woman who is destroying our marriage.”
“No Leng, it’s not her fault. It’s mine. I am the one who’s leaving you, please keep her out of this.”
“Either you call her and arrange for us to meet, or I do it myself.”
“Fine. I’ll call her over.”
An hour and a half later, a stranger is standing in the living room of a house that Bee Leng and Paul call home.
She was pretty – and young. A little too young for Paul maybe??
Bee Leng notices that her husband has chosen to sit beside his mistress instead of her. The three of them were seated around their wooden dining table, each fiddling with their glass of water.
“So. Paul has told me he wants to leave our marriage for you. Did you know that, Coco?”
“Yeah, of course I do. Paul and I share everything, we don’t hide secrets from each other.” Coco replies.
“I see. Well then Paul, you can explain to our daughter Sarah that you’re abandoning our family for Coco. She should be arriving any minute.”
Paul’s face immediately went white and a look of terror flashed across his eyes.
“She’s coming here….now??” He exclaims.
Just then, the door opens. Sarah enters the living room and immediately, a look of confusion hangs from her expression.
“Mum, Dad. What’s going? Mum said it was urgent…..I had to take a half day lea-”
Bee Leng cut her off mid-sentence. “Sarah, your father has something to tell you.”
Sarah looks at her father. She has always been a Daddy’s girl and she knew from his expression that he was ashamed – but of what?
Sarah joins them at the table, next to her mother and she can’t help but notice a stranger is sitting next to her father, a lady not much older than herself.
“Dad? What is it?”
Paul can’t bring himself to look into Sarah’s eyes, his hands are clasped together and sweat is forming around his temple. He doesn’t make a sound.
“Paul? Say something. This is your chance. You promised me you would tell them.” Coco turns to Paul and when he looks up, he realizes all three women’s gazes are on him – unwavering and unyielding.
“Sarah. Your mother and I are splitting up.”
“Don’t even think to involve me, tell her the truth.” Bee Leng’s voice is quiet but furious.
“I….I’m the one who is leaving your mother. And I’m going to be with Coco from now on.” Paul’s hands are tightly clasped together by now that they have gone red.
“WHAT??! How could you? Dad – are you thinking right? Is this woman forcing you to tell us this? Is she bribing you? Did you get her pregnant? Dad, we can always solve problems together as a family, just tell us what she wants – is it money?”
“I’m not bribing him for anything okay, and yes I might be pregnant but it’s not because of that. Paul loves me and I love him. He doesn’t love your mother anymore so don’t pin the blame on me. Your mother is the one who couldn’t satisfy Paul’s needs and now, looking at her, I understand why he’s leaving her.” Coco raises her voice at Sarah and Bee Leng.
Bee Leng’s mind cannot take this anymore and she notices herself drifting off. She’s no longer listening to the conversation even though she knows Paul is now saying something.
Hand gestures are flying around.
But all Bee Leng can replay in her mind is “He doesn’t love your mother anymore…..now, looking at her, I understand why he’s leaving her.”
Bee Leng gets up from the table, opens the door, and walks out of the condo. She walks past the bus stop, past the school where Sarah went to, past the post office where she used to send packages to Paul whenever he went overseas for work, past the coffeeshop where the three of them would have breakfast every Saturday morning.
28 years of marriage. 30 years of loving Paul. She gave him everything……all of her.
Wasn’t it enough?