#hugh – Five

*Any entries from Hugh's perspective are very fiction based. Some are also infused with conversations we have had and my interpretations*

Waking up the next day I felt fresh and bursting with anticipation...almost like the night's sleep had left me with a new exciting lease on life. The prospect of seeing Ava that evening made the mundane tasks and platitudinous conversations of the day ahead bearable. I couldn't wait for the time to pass until I was at the hotel and finally able to bask in the presence of the woman who had such a tenacious grip on my every thought...awake or asleep.

As I climbed out of bed I knew I had a spring in my step and a smile planted firmly on my face. Nothing and no one was going to wipe it off and even the thought of that stopped the deep-seated issues that plagued my past and present from seeming so insurmountable.

Half an hour later I found myself in the kitchen absentmindedly daydreaming, looking towards the pool outside forgetting all about the coffee I was brewing. It wasn't until I saw movement out of the right side of my eye that I snapped back to reality. Watching Hayley pad silently across the kitchen in her white cotton rove I remembered the appreciation I had for her as the mother of my children. Although the physical attributes that had once attracted me to her had all but faded with age, I could still see the remnants of a woman who was once the most undeniably beautiful woman that many years ago I had said vows to in front of our family and friends and meant every word. As the years passed the feelings of love had begun to morph into seeds of annoyance, abhorrence until finally, all I had left was the simple appreciation of the fact that she had given birth and raised my children.

I tried hard to remember how we had ended up in the very place we had sworn to each other we wouldn't. Watching her glide around the kitchen with an air of grace I noticed her blonde hair had once again been cut short, just past her shoulders, and was a lighter shade than she usually wore. I remembered the days when I used to enjoy making these observations and enjoyed the times when her laughter spread warmth through my heart, but what I had loved the most was when I had been the one to make her laugh. It had been a long time since that had happened and the very reason as to why we had drifted apart was all around us...Money.

When I had first met Hayley I didn't have even half of what I do now. As the business grew so did the distance between us. Life became about material possessions and social standings to Hayley and less about investing in the relationship we had fought so hard to have in the beginning. I had always wanted my family to have more than I ever did and put almost every waking moment I had into ensuring that they would never have to worry about anything. When our children came along we were well on our way to achieving that goal and I desperately wanted to one day leave a legacy to my children, something they could be proud of. Although Hayley had insisted that she understood why I was so driven to achieve these things, after a few years I felt a wedge being driven between us that had so obviously begun deteriorating the very reason that I had been working so hard against all odds...a better life for my family. With all the spare time she had on her hands, she began spending money as quickly as it came in, which made me more determined to earn even more. As the original business grew into an empire, I found myself with less and less time to spend with her and more travels nationally and internationally.

Reality smashed me in the face when I returned home from an interstate business trip to find that Hayley had put our house on the market in search of something bigger and more upmarket. We were already living in one of the wealthiest and safest suburbs in the city and yet it didn't seem to be enough for her.

I hit the roof when I found out what she had done without even consulting me.

"Hayley, you can't just sell the house without discussing it with me" I yelled at her on the phone one night after landing and began my journey from the airport towards our house.

"What does it even matter Hugh? You're never here anyway so it's just another address you visit every so often!" She screamed back with an edge of spite in her already furious tone. We had never argued before and this had caught me off guard.

"It's my home too Hayley! What about the kids? They're settled and you haven't even begun looking at other houses so where do you propose we live?" I responded trying to maintain as much calmness in a conversation that was tipping me over the edge of livid.

"We're building Hugh! We can rent somewhere until it is finished. I can't live here anymore, it's too small and won't fit everything I want to redecorate with. I want a pool and a pool house among many other things. It's not like we have to worry about money either so I don't see what the big issue is!" she screeched at me. I sat there struggling to figure out who this woman was. She was nothing like the woman I had married and I drew a blank when trying to figure out when she had become so obsessed with money.

"Do you understand how up yourself you sound?. You sound like one of those socialites you swore you would never become. What the fuck is wrong with you?" I said in a haze of confusion hoping to snap her out of whatever phase she was going through.

"How dare you speak to me like that? I stay at home and raise your children while you are off doing fuck knows what with fuck knows who and I deserve to have whatever I goddam want after I have given up so much to be with you...even when I feel like you aren't here with me! So fuck you, Hugh. If you don't like it then go find yourself someone who is willing to live under your rules because I am surely not sticking around to be your little house whore if I'm not getting something out of it that benefits me!" She responded with such a venomous roar that knocked me further into my chair. The fact that she had accused me of cheating or even thought that sent my head spinning. The entire time I had been with her I hadn't even turned to look at another woman, let alone slept with them and here I was being accused of that based on what? I was away a lot but I always called her to let her know where I was and what I was doing. I was always surrounded by our closest friends and tried to never stay away from her or our children for more than one night because it pained me too much.

Before I had the chance to respond I pulled into the driveway of our house in my black BMW that Hayley had insisted I drove, cut off the engine, hung up, and ran inside. As soon as I saw her standing in the lounge room I felt a wave of guilt come crashing down upon me. She had obviously begun to think so little of me and how much I valued our relationship and I was so blind to it all with such a heavy workload. I ran towards her and crushed her body against mine in a heated embrace as I realised how close I must have been to losing everything I craved for more than anything else. At first, she resisted my touch before caving and allowing herself to get lost in the moment. I kissed her forehead before pulling her down next to me on the sofa.

"I'm so sorry Hayley. I didn't realise that my time away was affecting you this much" I said in a calm and soothing voice.

"Hugh, I understand why you are doing all of this. I just feel like we are growing apart and there is nothing I can do about it. I really need a change and I was hoping that by moving I might be able to create a place that you want to spend more time in, a place you feel is home too" she said in between sobs. I sighed and buried my head in my hands. I couldn't understand how I hadn't realised I was neglecting her and the toll it was taking on her.

"Before I agree to this, I need to know if you really believe that I have cheated on you?" I responded feeling so crushed beyond all belief that we were even having this conversation.

"Hugh I know that you haven't. I said that in the heat of the moment because I knew that it would get you to sit up and listen. I know that as long as we are ok that you would never do something like that to me. I just felt like I had to hit a nerve to get you to sit up and pay attention" she responded placing her hand gently on the back of my head. After twenty minutes of silence and thinking, I knew what I had to do to save my marriage.

"Okay Hayley, let's do it. On one condition...don't ever throw a low blow at me like that again. If you have something to say, come out and say it. I won't deal with that kind of attention-seeking again. It will break us and that is not something that I never want, but I won't put up with the games ok?" I gave her the only warning I had ever given and meant every word of it. Anymore games and it would break us completely.

After a few moments of hanging her head in shame, she looked up and spoke.

"Okay, I promise," she said in a mouse-like voice.

"I have a lot of work coming up but I am going to put more of an effort into being around. You aren't in this alone but I need you to remember why I am doing this. I promise that I will really try to be here whenever you need me." I promised, trying to break through and let her know that she didn't need to feel so alone.

I had a sinking feeling that this was just the beginning, that Hayley was no longer the same woman that I had professed my love to and swore to uphold vows with, but I had to try. I had to exhaust every single option possible hoping to god that she would prove me wrong...but something deep down inside told me that moving wasn't going to make one bit of difference and that it was about to get a whole lot worse before the prospect of it getting better...if ever!