They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. April knew that, for she was the living proof of such a profound statement. Was it all women throughout the world that this applied to, or just the ones who felt strong enough to oppose contemptuous behaviour? Quotations were all well and good in the literary world, but in the everyday, mundane life, an average woman was just that. Average. Ordinary and non-descript.
We are not all cut out to be suffragettes, or fearless like Boadicea; but with the right inspiration just maybe she could rise above her fury and put out the flames that were slowly but surely burning into her subconscious, creating unrest. These were the thoughts tumbling through April’s mind as she sat on the hard-wooden seat with no cushion pad to take the pressure off her bony protruding coccyx; which seemed to be getting more prominent by the day.
April allowed herself another moment of self-reflection. Deciding that the discomfort was a small price to pay for the big prize awaiting her in the fullness of time. She wasn’t impressed with this latest Biju fad that many restaurants and pubs were currently following like a herd of lemmings. Mismatched shabby chic chairs indeed, give me a nice soft and comfortable seat any day was the thought going through April’s mind as she watched her husband, Desmond, fight his way to the bar for the third time in less than an hour.
She looked around – what a filthy place it was. The faded carpet covered in beer spills and cigarette burns, alluded to the fact that the carpet had been down for years, probably before the smoking ban in pubs was introduced. The curtains to the filthy windows were a disgrace, covered in black, damp spots and faded stripes of fabric, where the sun had bleached the colour out over many years. Condensation was running down the windows, collecting into little pools of water on the dirty cigarette burnt sill. What a bloody hole of a place this is. She couldn’t understand why her husband liked it so much. Perhaps it was the odour of stagnant beer that hovered mid-air or the faint smell of stale tobacco that had seeped into the peeling walls of the pub. Whatever his reasoning, there could be no excuse for bringing his wife to such a place.
April was watching her husband at the bar. His huge frame taking up the space of two people, his beer belly protruding out like a nine-month pregnancy and his bellybutton visible beneath the tight dingy tea shirt, sporting a message on the back ‘Mines a pint.’ She hated that tee-shirt. In fact, any tea shirt with a slogan on, in her mind was an indication of poor taste.
Desmond was laughing so much that his jowls were wobbling in his florid face. He enjoyed a good chat at the bar, she guessed that he would be there for some time. Well, as long as he could possibly stretch it out in order to delay the time he had to sit with his miserable wife. She knew that he thought that, for he told her often enough. Endurance of her husband and he of his wife had morphed into a double-edged sword that was becoming sharper by the day.
It hadn’t always been that way between them. Ten years ago, when they first met, Desmond had been the life and soul of the party, he was tall and strong with a young athletic body. He was very popular within their circle. Desmond wore the latest fashion and knew all the popular music of the time. He was a good dancer too. It was his dance moves that April first noticed and what attracted her to him.
The evening that Desmond asked April to dance, was the beginning of their very brief courtship. It was her own fault of course, or so Desmond would have her believe. She should have been on the contraceptive pill like the other girls. Instead, she got pregnant the very first time they had fumbled sex in the back of his old Austin Mini.
Desmond did the right thing as he had no other choice. Under pressure from both sets of parents they had a rushed wedding at the local registry office and a miserable reception party back at Desmond’s parents’ home. Not a good start to any marriage.
April looked towards the bar. Her gorgeous Desmond of five years ago had all but disappeared through no fault of his own. Others would assume that Desmond was nothing short of a greedy, beer-swilling lost cause. But she knew different.
It took Brian three attempts to catch April’s attention.
‘April, long time no see. So glad Anita persuaded me to come out tonight. You are looking good babes. Can’t say the same for Des, poor sod.’ Before she had the chance to answer, Brian sat down beside her.
Brian had been in the same class as April at senior school. He was not one of the most popular boys, but he had always been friendly and kind to her. She often wondered if he had hoped to be more than a friend, but maybe that was just a fanciful notion on her part. While Desmond and she had been part of the in-crowd, Brian always teetered on the periphery. How things change, thought April. Here he was, getting better looking the older he got and surely he must be in training – he certainly looked fit.
‘Come on April, help me to choose a song from the karaoke list, how about you and I sing a duet?’
April looked over his shoulder, to see his gorgeous wife glaring at her. I don’t know what she is worried about, thought April, I am no competition at all. She smiled at Brian; he had broken the momentum of her thoughts that were in danger of sending her deeper into depression. She felt false and hollow as her lips parted into a painted smile. Feeling sorry for his wife she waved her over.
Although they had met on the odd occasion, they rarely spoke, but tonight she needed to somehow cleanse herself and feel whole again if only for a few moments. Perhaps cleanse was not a strong enough adjective to describe the utter contempt that she had for herself. Maybe, something akin to an exorcism would be more appropriate.
‘Tell you what Brian, how about I help to choose a song for you and Anita, I hear that you do quite a good duet.’
Anita, gave April a huge dazzling smile, showing a perfect set of teeth making April feel more jealous by the minute. Desmond was still at the bar and April was getting a little impatient, but she gave none of these feeling’s away as she giggled with Brian and Anita at some of the suggestions they made to each other.
The short time spent in their company, helped to make the evening a little more pleasant for April and when Desmond eventually came over to her with a glass of wine, she felt a little lighter of mood. Her husband picked up on these positive vibes and proceeded to tell her of all the gossip that he had collected at the bar. He loved gossip, did her Desmond, in fact, he thrived on it. April hated the tittle-tattle that Desmond spewed out of his mouth with such vigour. She had no interest what so ever, of what other people were up to or who was having an affair. Her own life was not a bed of roses, so who was she to be judgemental.
Desmond knew that his wife preferred to go to a more upmarket venue than the ones he liked; but this place was close by and he didn’t need to worry about driving, for they could easily walk home, despite his own limitations. His weight had increased dramatically since being put on insulin five years ago and no matter how hard he had tried to keep his weight down, it just crept up and up. His diagnosis of Type one diabetes was a shock, to say the least. The symptoms were so rapid and all-consuming, there was no time to prepare for the massive lifestyle changes that steamrolled their way and took over his life.
At first, April was the dutiful wife; pampering to her husbands every need. She went along to all of his hospital appointments and listened carefully to the advice being given. She attended the nutrition lessons the dietitian provided and listened carefully to the diabetic specialist nurse as she explained the role of insulin and the importance of the correct dosage.
Of course, Desmond was grateful for the support of his wife. Especially as her support enabled him to continue with his philandering lifestyle. Desmond did not let his diagnosis get in the way of fun; flirting with his work colleagues and the willing female customers who he encountered during his work as a car salesman.
On occasion, he stayed late at work, or at least that’s what he told April. In reality, he was making the most of his charms. He received many admiring glances from the women, especially when he wore his tight trousers. Oh yes, young Desmond was a ladies man alright. The many one-night stands and tardy affairs helped to compensate for the loss of his years as a single man. He married April out of sufferance. His parents insisted that he face up to his responsibilities and to make the best of it. Well, he married her didn’t he, he provided for April and his daughter Jodie.
While Desmond was enjoying his freedom, April felt trapped at home with their young daughter. Her dreams of training to be a nurse followed by her fanciful idea of meeting a doctor and falling helplessly in love became a distant memory. That was until she had her lightbulb moment which of all things, came while reading a nursery rhyme to her daughter. Sweet, silent thoughts skipped through her mind as she looked at the illustrations of Jack Sprat and his wife, which portrayed a grotesquely fat woman who by all accounts looked morbidly obese in her opinion. April formulated a plan. One which, although would need time and opportunity, was potentially feasible. Patience was the key. April was well practiced in the art, having endured the loss of her dream and of the mythical lover who would surely have been nothing short of a prince among men.
Desmond never got involved with any of the domestic chores. In his opinion, he went to work and provided for April and Jodie and that was enough. He gave her the housekeeping money and kept the rest of his wages for himself. April put food on the table did his laundry and kept a clean house. He didn’t consider himself in the least bit chauvinistic, he had been forced into this situation and that was his lot. When April joined him at the hospital to learn about the importance of a healthy diet and how to count the carbohydrates, he considered this her duty. After all, she did all of the cooking, so why shouldn’t she be present. He had been warned that the insulin might contribute to a small amount of weight gain so wasn’t surprised when gradually his weight crept up.
Meanwhile, having thought of reversing the sorry tale of a thin Jack Sprat. April made damn sure that her husband’s weight continued to increase. She discovered all kinds of ways to increase the carbohydrate and fats in Desmond’s food without him being aware. When she plated up the food it appeared that they all had the same, albeit Desmond’s plate being piled high. In fact, his food had been spiked with added fats and sugars, which he never noticed because the food was not in his mouth long enough for the taste buds to work. April noticed long ago, that he wolfed his food down as though afraid someone might steal it from his plate. This turned out to be of advantage to her and the plan that she had formulated.
As Desmond’s weight increased, so did his need for more insulin. The fatter he got, the less active he became and the risk of diabetic complications rose exponentially. He still considered himself attractive to other women but was becoming less successful in his conquests. By the time the scales hit three-hundred pounds, he had developed a problem of impotence, for which April was grateful, as she was finding her husband more repulsive by the day.
When Desmond attended the hospital for his regular review, April always went with him and reassured the Doctor that they ate a healthy diet, in fact, she herself was losing weight and feeling very well indeed thank you! Of course, Desmond nodded his head in agreement. Other than him drinking a few pints at the weekend, he declared that he lived a healthy lifestyle. While Desmond was getting less attractive, April was positively radiant. Her previously permed hair that looked dull and lifeless from the chemicals that she constantly used, now shone with health. Long and dark it gently hung on her shoulders with a slight flick on the ends to compliment her full fringe. She was eating the healthy diet that was meant for her husband and by doing so had managed to lose a few extra pounds that had gathered around her waist after giving birth to Jodie. In addition, she had purchased some second-hand fitness videos and while Jodie was at school, worked herself into a frenzy trying to get into shape. Life was getting better. She felt more positive by the day while observing the decline of her husband.
There he was at the bar again getting his fifth pint of Guinness. Someone had told him that it was good for him. April knew better. She knew that it was high in sugars and low in nutritional value. She had been studying Biology and psychology for the past year and if she passed the exams the extra qualifications would be enough to one day apply for nurse training. It was only a matter of time.
Over the next few weeks, she planned to reduce his insulin further, thereby putting him at risk of ketoacidosis. The diabetic consultant had explained this process and how serious it was. By reducing his insulin substantially and increasing his carbohydrates, his blood sugars would rise rapidly and alter his blood chemistry. This she had managed a number of times over the recent past, but he always managed to bounce back. It was proving to be a more difficult task than she anticipated. Perhaps this time she might be successful. Maybe, if she got him to the point of ketoacidosis over the weekend while at home, no one would need to know, until it was too late.
Desmond trusted his wife to give him his twice daily insulin shots. It made sense because her vision was sharper than his when looking at the dosage. Therefore, that fateful weekend when he drifted off into a diabetic coma while his wife and daughter were out for the day. No one except April knew the full story of events.
His death was a great shock to everyone. Especially so for his wife, who very rarely went out for more than a few hours. Such was her dedication. The Doctor said that his premature death could have been avoided if only he had followed the medical advice given. April agreed wholeheartedly with the verdict, citing that she had always tried her best to encourage Desmond to take better care of himself.
‘Good morning student nurse’ said the doctor as he deliberately brushed passed April on his way to the sister’s office.
April gave him her most dazzling smile. ‘Good morning, Doctor.’ She replied.
‘Do you have the authority to give insulin, if I write up a prescription on the patient notes?’ He inquired.
‘Certainly, I do Doctor. In fact, I am very experienced in such matters.’ Said April with a note of triumph in her voice.
Sugar is not always sweet short story by K.L. Loveley: Copyrighted. All rights reserved