I'm waiting for him in the usual place. I feel like I spend half my life at this precise spot, never quite sure whether he'll arrive by foot, on motorbike, scooter or 4x4. It's been so long now that I can sense when he's near, and whether there's time for a last minute makeup check or to scrutinise my hair in the smoked glass office window.
This evening he's on foot, in his usual uniform of slightly too tight jeans and several layers of complicated technical sports tops. He usually starts hollering at me from around ten metres away. His current favoured greeting is to bellow "Ciao bella!" as he moves in for a bear hug, but tonight he's looking more reserved. His brow is furrowed and I feel like he's looking straight through me as he places a dainty peck on each cheek. I've seen this mood before - no matter how outrageous or amusing a story I tell he will act like he's listening, make all the right noises plus some appropriate facial expressions, but he's there in body only.
He asks what I'm up to that evening, and I tell him I'm meeting Kay later on but I have a few hours free and hoped that he could entertain me. I look up at him with what I hope is an alluring come-hither face, but he just frowns slightly, probably wondering if I have indigestion or something.
He walks into the pub and asks me wearily what I want to drink. I try not to start worrying and instead fixate on the fact that he has the smallest little 'man purse' I've ever seen. I ask him why he doesn't have a nice wallet and stop short of saying 'like a normal person' because it's more apparent than usual this evening that he really isn't one of those.
There is a huge cluster of tourists surrounding the bar and no free seats in sight. I hate this pub anyway so I'm glad when he suggests going elsewhere. His car turns out to be parked magically round the corner and we travel a few streets to another of our regular haunts with me trying to make him laugh or at least crack a smile the whole way but it's a struggle. We park up and suddenly his face lights up.
"I almost forgot! I found you a boyfriend!" He exclaims.
"Why thanks!" I reply, "some people pay good money to matchmakers for that stuff and you do it for free, without me even asking!"
I feel like I've been kicked. He ignores me and roots around for his iPhone. He waves it cheerily in my face as we disembark. This pub is busy too and the only seats we can get are at the bar, where our knees keep knocking against one another. Everything about this evening is turning out to be slightly annoying. He shows me the video he has made, in his friend's car. He's an older guy, late forties and a bit gaunt with nicotine coloured wispy hair. He looks embarrassed as he mumbles at the camera that our mutual friend says I am a "lovely girl" and that we should meet. All the time Serge's face is visible wobbling in and out of shot, cackling like a loon. I can't say I'm impressed but it is admittedly kind of funny and we are soon giggling away together and the tension is temporarily dispersed. I ask him to email it to me so I can savour it away from a noisy pub and he starts to, but then panics that he can't remember which email it would come from and it might be his 'home one' - as opposed to his 'cheating bastard one' I presume.
He orders more drinks and the evening goes yet further downhill. He's in the mood to snipe at me about everything. I don't earn enough, my flat is too small, I don't wash my hands enough (he has been monitoring the liquid soap levels in my bathroom) and the post-op pain I feel every single day is just imagined apparently. But despite all this I still meekly follow him out of the pub when he announces we are going back to my (tiny, unhygienic) flat.
In the car the phone is hooked up to loud speaker and a call comes through as we whizz through an underpass. It's a woman's voice, high pitched and breathy, speaking in an unknown Eastern European language. They have a short conversation and after she hangs up I start giggling and ask who the hell it was.
"Was that some sort of porn star mate of yours?" I laugh.
"It was my wife" he said flatly. "I think she heard you. She asked if I was on my own." He stares ahead at the road and I have a sudden urge just to make like George Michael and fling myself onto the dual carriageway.
We walk up the steps to mine and the tension is palpable. Usually by this stage the air is filled with expectation and mischievousness, but tonight there just isn't anything. We walk through the door and he starts going on about the temperature - at this point I feel like sticking his head down the toilet and seeing how he gets on with that. I pour myself a very large drink and ask if he wants anything. He says no but helps himself to large sips of mine instead. It annoys me, like people stealing chips off your plate. He makes a half-hearted attempt to kiss me and reaches for my bra strap as if on auto pilot. It becomes apparent that neither of us really want this. He stops, and I reach for my drink back. I know what's coming.
He launches into a rambling speech about how much he likes me, how much he likes my skin (rather creepily), but the chemistry between us is all wrong. Oddly I'm not annoyed and try to style it out which is hard when you are trying to re fasten your bra whilst retaining some semblance of dignity.
"I've got to go anyway" I say faux-breezily. "I'm already an hour late to meet Kay."
"I'd give you a lift but I'm not going that way."
"Of course you're not" I say in my head, "you're going back to your wife aka the Polish version of the Cadbury's bunny."
I lie and say I have a cab booked. He leaves as quickly as he can, after planting a sloppy runners-up kiss on my cheek. I sit and squirm the entire journey. I race up the stairs of the bar at the other end and spot Kay standing at the bar with some people I don't recognise. She waves and I dash over to her.
"What's wrong?" she asks. "Your face looks all weird."
I grab her cocktail off the bar and take a huge swig.
"I think I've just been officially dumped" I reply.