She was so beautiful just standing there framed by the kitchen door. Carmel wasn't what most would have called a beauty, she wasn't tall or willowy and didn't have the obligatory blonde hair. However, she was just the right fit for me. We'd hit it off from the moment we met and had quickly become an inseparable couple. That was nearly 10 years ago, but it felt like a lifetime.

She was still, what I'd call, beautiful, but now, that beauty vanished the moment she opened her mouth. I'm not sure when the whining started, maybe when the gossiping and meanness did.

'Have you seen what's in the paper? How dare they! Who do they think they are printing that! Oh god, everyone'll read it. We'll be a laughing stock ... ' she went on and on and on. What was wrong? A scam artist that had been working around our area had been caught, luckily we hadn't been one of his victims. Her problem? His apprehension was mentioned in the paper and her magnificent suburb, and by association her, was named! Was it front page ... no it was about a 3 cm story hidden at the bottom of page 6.

I had become a modern Walter Mitty and could tune out when she started. I pitied the people in our block of units and our neighbors and the shopkeepers and ... oh everybody! Nearly all of them were too polite, or like just her, to tell her to bugger off. The ones that did, well the tirade could last for days, sometimes even longer. The last one had been her hairdresser.

In my experience hairdressers are like bartenders, they listen, agree and have a yes, no or oh dear comment ready for the appropriate moment. They are trained to be agreeable and not upset the customer. Well, Ken, Carmel's hairdresser, had had enough. When he'd finished with her hair, he told her exactly what he thought. For nearly two weeks after that she paced the house, going on and on about Ken. He was ungrateful, couldn't cut hair if his life depended on it, blah, blah, blah. Then the drama of finding another hairdresser began … Oh to have been somewhere else.

Why haven't I just packed up and left before now? Don't know really, maybe just laziness or complacency. Could also be that Carmel controlled everything, money, shopping, what we watched, where we'd go, who we associated with, everything.

A friend once told me that relationships were like cars, after 10 years you traded them in. Well I wasn't after a trade in, what I wanted was a permanent sale! However, after much thought and procrastination, I now had a plan and her sale day was just around the corner.

And that's where I should have left it … a plan.

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