“But Mauve, you said you knew her, that you went to school with her.” Nec, whose parents had named him Thomas, looked confusedly at one girlfriend, with one an arm around the other, Yseult.
“I told all of you that I didn’t like her,” retorted Maeve. The nickname was beginning to annoy her as much as the subject of discussion. “I haven’t liked her since primary school.”
“Give her a chance,” pleaded Yseult, “she’s perfect for us.”
“Except,” added Maeve, “that I don’t like her.”
“Mauve,” Nec told her with a warning note in his voice, “you’re being silly.”
“I don’t think it’s silly to refuse to have as a member of my marriage or in my bed a woman I don’t want as a guest in my home.” Maeve swallowed. “We agreed that the choice of third wife would be unanimous. I refuse to accept Rani so that means she’s vetoed.”
“Mauve, that’s not fair to the rest of us.” He was beginning to look angry.
“It’s not fair to refuse to be a doormat for once?” Maeve put her hands on her hips. “I’ve given up friends, foods and activities for all of you but anything that I want I’m supposed to just let you talk me out of. Well not this time. I will not invite Rani into our relationship.”
A month later Yseult had cooked dinner, a rich tomato and eggplant thing on rice. Barney was running late and had sent a message for them not to wait but the rest of them were at the table. Nec, Yseult and Coram all looked uptight about something to Maeve’s eye but when she tried playing footsie under the table with Coram and Yseult to lighten teh mood, neither of them would be drawn into the game. Maeve began to feel apprehensive.
“We’ve been talking,” began Yseult, “and the four of us really want Rani to be our third wife.”
“I thought this had been settled,” Maeve put down her fork. “I vetoed Rani. I was going to bring up this girl, Tosca, who goes to a coffee shop near my work-“
Nec interjected, “Mauve, we want Rani.”
“Then we have a problem,” said Maeve slowly, “because Rani is a deal breaker for me. If you’ve been continuing to see her after my veto, then your lack of respect for my feelings and opinion is another problem.”
Coram started to speak but Barney bounced through the door and said enthusiastically, “Rani can move in Saturday!”
“Then I’ll be gone by Friday night.” Maeve pushed back her chair and stood, tears forming in her eyes. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to arrange somewhere to go.”
As she left the room Barney was saying, “But you guys were supposed to talk her round!”
She spent the night in her sewing room cum study, unwilling to share any of the communal beds. There were three knocks on the door in the night.
The first was Nec, confident that sex would make it better and change her mind about leaving. To him she said, “Didn’t you get the part where I’m breaking up with you and moving out? I don’t do sex with you anymore.” Then she shut the door firmly in his face.
The second was Yseult and Coram who’d both been crying. “Please don’t go,” that was Yseult, “we love you.”
“Not enough to respect my opinions or my feelings,” Maeve’s own tears were still flowing. “Please go away.”
Barney was the last. “I’m sorry Maeve, I stuffed it up.” He leaned against the door frame.
“It wasn’t just you,” she told him tiredly, “the others didn’t listen to me either. Just go to bed, please Barney.” She closed the door quietly in his face.
She moved out Thursday, leaving her spaces in the house empty, scrupulously taking only the things that she felt were truly hers. She even left behind jewellery the others had thought of as hers. She had left them. As she said in her farewell note, at least there were no children to consider.