If Gloria had asked him what was wrong that morning, she thinks that he wouldn’t have replied. He may have just said that he was tired, not looking forward to work or miserable about the weather.
He believes that he would have driven to the other side of town to the surgery. As he adjusted the fan to demist the car windscreen and wind down the window to accept his sandwiches from Gloria, he felt no guilt about what he was doing. He had always been too busy to worry about dishonestly. He was not a schemer. He was faithful, tidy in his dress, clean but not vain, retained a slim figure by regular hill walking with the club and able to offer his wife stimulating conversation over dinner each evening. Gloria, for her part, was appreciative of her husband’s all-round appropriateness. Yes, this was the right word to describe Bernard. Appropriate Bernard. Never over-dressed, under-dressed, too serious or flippant, able to administer the correct measure of charm without gushing or being over-familiar to his patients, sombre, sensitive yet light and carefree. The perfect man. Gloria had always known how much Bernard loved her and never asked any questions.
It was Tuesday morning and Gloria was going shopping. Bernard had appeared distracted but she didn’t worry. She had seen it once before, some problem or other connected to the surgery. She wouldn’t pry because she just knew that Bernard would know exactly how to handle the situation. Maybe he had to tell someone they were dying. Maybe he had to tell someone that they were infertile or would never walk again. Or deliver a baby. Resuscitate a child. Amputate a limb. But she was fantasising again. She didn’t know where he was going. Hadn’t done for the last thirty years.