Roy got up, had a bath, had a shave, trimmed his eyebrows, clipped his nostril hairs and weighed himself nude: thirteen stone eight. It was a warm and sunny day. He got dressed and drove to his nearest church. It wasn’t open but he was free to enter its stone porch with its smooth flagstones and clamorous noticeboard bearing news of forthcoming festivals, interfaith forums and charitable bonds with Africa.
He’d stood in this porch twice before, the first time for Leila’s christening, the second time for Lucy’s. He would have liked to have married Kristie there too, but the comedy vicar had gently explained that although he welcomed new parishioners and hoped to see them on Sundays, divorcees weren’t allowed to wed in houses of God. Kristie and Roy had tied the knot at Croydon Town Hall instead, but this had not prevented Roy from gratefully embracing a joyful end to his years of romantic misjudgement and drift.
Kristie was the reason for that joy, of course, small and quirkily pretty at his side, her smell reaching his nose, her hip touching his thigh, showered with confetti, all tenderness and smiles. The service had gone well and Azim had delivered a short reading, speaking of a divine love beckoning the chosen ones, the fire of passion in their eyes, to a world beyond, a world that only they could see – the words of a Persian mystic, which, come to think of it, the comedy vicar might not have been ready for. At the reception Roy and Kristie had sat enthroned like king and queen. Roy had believed in the Almighty for a short while.
Now he lingered by the church, remembering, and drove back home for the start of the last day of the Test. As he watched England collapse to an innings defeat he scouted the web, finding a description by a woman of coping with her husband’s depression:
“During one of Holmes’s darkest days, he said, ‘We – and I – may never be happy again; you’d be better off leaving.’ I went in the other room, wept, and prayed for strength and the right response. A short time later, I sat down by Holmes, held his hand, and said, ‘Even if we’re never happy again, it’s just not all about happiness; it’s about loving each other and being together. I’m committed to you for the rest of our lives. I’m not going anywhere.’ Although we had huge hills yet to climb, that was a turning point for us. And in that particular response, Holmes felt unconditionally loved and accepted right where he was.”
Roy thought it was, perhaps, extreme to relegate the role of happiness, and wondered if the name Holmes was made up.
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