Daniel chopped parsley, sage and coriander, and organised it in a pile on the wooden chopping board he got last Christmas from his wife Michelle. He didn’t like the present when he opened it and he still doesn’t like it as he bought Michelle a €500 designer watch. “This feckin chopping board probably only cost €5” grumbled Daniel to himself as he poured his homemade mustard over the salmon he had caught earlier in the day. Fishing was Daniel’s escape outlet from a loveless, one-sided, high-pressure marriage and helped Daniel stay calm for the evening of entertaining the new neighbours.
Last month he reluctantly moved to the countryside with his wife of twenty years from the buzzing city of London. “Dan is that dinner on yet?” yelled Michelle from the living room as her stylist finished spraying copious amounts of hairspray on an updo that did nothing to make a sour face like hers any better. Michelle used to be good looking, when they were newlyweds and she was a poor journalism student. Her long strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes and high cheekbones were characteristics of a then friendly, polite and caring girlfriend.
“Nearly ready dear” replied Daniel, as saliva splashed out from his gritted teeth. The six-foot-tall man rubbed his chest to give some comfort to his heart breaking. “How long more can I put up with her” whispered Dan to himself as he dipped his finger into the herbs and sprinkled them on the salmon. He twisted the knob on the cooker to forty minutes then poured himself a chilled glass of white wine. As he started sipping his favourite drink, he caught a reflection of himself in the squeaky-clean glass cabinet. He touched his bald patch, wiping sweat off from the hot kitchen, then gazed at the glass. His hazel eyes couldn’t hide his sadness, loneliness and anguish.
“Dan, do you have the table set?” shouted Michelle from the next room. Dan shook his head, rubbed tears from his eyes, walked past the photo of Michelle being awarded news anchor of the year last year, opened the patio door and walked. He walked past the white gazebo that he assembled for his spoiled wife. As he stopped to take another sip of wine, “Dan, answer me, Dan, answer me” roared Michelle from the kitchen. Daniel upped his pace and opened the garden gate and walked. The sound of the wine glass being smashed to bits on the road was music to Dan’s ears as he felt the pressure lift from his head, shoulders and heart. His black leather loafers were not the ideal footwear to escape a loveless, narcissistic and demanding wife, but tears of joy rolled down Daniel’s face.
The dusk sky, blended with a glorious winter sun setting provided a beautiful array of black, navy, pink and orange colours above Daniel. As he continued walking briskly around the bend at the bottom of his road, he threw his hands in the air with delight. His weather-beaten hands stroked his cheeks as they were hurting from his smile being so wide. “I’m free” smiled Daniel as he continued towards town to plan the next chapter of his life. “His hands then wiped a happy tear from his left eye as he remembered the key to his front door was in his trouser pocket. He took it out, placed it on his palm, briefly welling up, then clutched the key tightly. “One, two, free” he shouted before throwing the key into the dark forest. “Woohoo”.