Left behind, useless and alone

She had watched as he crossed the room and poured himself a measure of Scotch, the Talisker she was drinking now. Lately, he was looking taller, easier in his movements. While his back was turned to her she had a cold premonition of rejection, of the humiliation of being left for a young woman, of being left behind, useless and alone. She wondered if she should simply go along with anything he wanted, then rejected the thought.

He had come back toward her with his glass. He wasn’t offering her a Sancerre the way he usually did around this time.

“What do you want, Jack?”

“I’m going to have this affair.”

“You want a divorce.”

“No. I want everything the same. No deception.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Yes you do. Didn’t you once tell me that couples in long marriages aspire to the condition of siblings? We’ve arrived, Fiona. I’ve become your brother. It’s cozy and sweet and I love you, but before I drop dead, I want one big passionate affair.”

Mistaking her amazed gasp for laughter, for mockery perhaps, he said roughly, “Ecstasy, almost blacking out with the thrill of it. Remember that? I want one last go, even if you don’t. Or perhaps you do.”

She stared at him in disbelief.

“There it is, then.”

Ian McEwan, The Children Act, Nan A. Talese (September 9, 2014)