The second snow was heavy enough to cover the footprints. Jenny sighed her relief as she walked down the path to her car to get the last of the Christmas shopping. He wouldn’t need to know. Her husband had been jealous since they met, jealous of any man she met, any man she worked with, any man that she shook hands with. She had spent almost twenty years convincing him that he, Gareth, was wrong, that she only loved him, that he needed to get over his jealousy. He usually bought her a piece of jewelry as an apology for his behaviour. She’d feel guilty taking the next pair of earrings, knowing that finally, his jealousy was warranted.

Damien had left in the early hours of the morning. He’d come over to fix the heater in the lounge after Jenny had spent almost an hour complaining of the cold to Gareth. Finally, she won with the argument that he was in Barbados on business and what sort of business is really conducted in Barbados, and he clearly must be rolling around in the surf with a babe in a bikini while his long suffering wife froze back here in Manchester. Gareth had called his drinking buddy Damien to go and fix the heater. As it happened, Jenny had a bottle of wine open, and it would have been rude for Damien to not have a glass. Or two. By the time the second bottle was open, Damien had fixed the heater and was starting to work on Jenny.

When Jenny had collected the milk in the morning, she noticed Damien’s footsteps leading away from the house. As she made her tea, she tried to think of when the snow had started last night. It wasn’t snowing when she let Damien in at six. She seemed to recall them sneaking out the back for a cigarette at about eleven and the ground was snow-free. That means it would have been after eleven but before Damien left. Gareth would figure this out. He was pedantic. He’d call the local weather bureau; he’d work this out. She’d be in trouble.

She’d spend the next hour in panic. She’d raced around, changing the sheets, washing the dishes, checking for any telltale signs of her deceit. Then she’d spotted the snow falling. It had been around nine. Gareth was due home tonight. A good snow and she wouldn’t need to worry. She had another cup of tea and smiled to herself, but then panicked. The snow had stopped. The footprints were still there. She tried to think of things she could do to cover them up. She could do some outdoor stuff. He’d never belief that, she who hated outdoors, going out in the snow? She could invite friends over. Instead, she had a shower.

Dressed and putting on her make-up, she decided that she’d just have to pretend everything was fine, and hope that he didn’t notice, or didn’t think anything was weird about it. She would do the wrapping and get it ready to go under the tree they were getting on the weekend. It would be fine. One indiscretion in a couple of decades; surely she was allowed one mistake? She sat on the stairs and cried, regretting the night before, regretting the many mistakes of her life, regretting and regretting. Then, she wiped her eyes and marched out of the house to continue with her life as though nothing had happened. And it was snowing.



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