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Around The Sun: Where The Torture Never Stops

Newly-divorced Steve Harrison learns a shocking truth.

I will spare you all the details of the court hearing. I failed to completely understand the proceedings. My wife, having survived an operation, said I had caused her irreparable damage. She said she would never be able to work again and needed to keep the family home because its familiarity would make her infirmity more bearable.

She wore dark glasses, was unkempt and appeared to be frail. My tears welled up when I saw her.

To ensure that her suffering would cease I settled for a pittance. I expected to have a little money to live on, after my solicitor had grabbed her piece of the pie. I was very definitely a defeated man.

The hearing was on a Thursday. On Friday I went out to get well and truly drunk. I was in a pub at the end of George Street, a very famous pub. It was not one of my favourite haunts. I had been in it less than half a dozen times before. I was alone, determined to get blotto so that I could forget my life and its recent memories. An elderly gent was standing next to me. He had a northern accent and mousey hair.

We started to talk, about where we were born. Then a penny dropped. We had met some 20 years ago. He had been a representative for a photo retouching company. Now he was working for a large printing firm.

I gave him an edited account of my life, including the divorce from my Chinese wife. He told me about a dynamic Chinese woman who worked for the same company he did. She was breaking all sales records, climbing the corporate ladder in giant leaps and bounds. The more he described this woman, the more familiar she seemed to me.

I asked what they called her.

It was my ex-wife.

I told him I had heard that she had undergone brain surgery. A serious operation.

He said she had had an ear infection. A minor problem.

My little world crumpled and collapsed.

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