Josh got married young. Too young in my book – he was still at university – but he’d been with Amy since he was sixteen, and they loved each other. They didn’t need to see if there was anything else out there.
After they graduated, he got a job at the local newspaper. He’d always wanted to be a journalist, and he worked every hour God sent him to get ahead. He wrote about pub fights and local politics, a woman who lived with a pig, a cover up at the hospital, anything.
Eventually he got offered a job at a regional paper he couldn’t turn down. It was a step-up, and he and Amy moved. Amy got pregnant. He worked and worked: when they went on holiday he took his phone and laptop with him. The day Ellie was born he rushed off to report on some breaking news. He learned to change her nappies and rock her to sleep, but as soon as she’d gone down he was on to his next story.
After a few years, his next child came along. This one, Michael. He sucked snot from his nose and sang him to sleep, but when Ellie got her toys out he needed to write a byline, when he was free he was on the computer looking at how other papers did it, when Amy asked him to play with Ellie, she had to see to Mikey, he said, play with her how? Amy said, it’s easy, just do something with her, I do it all the time. After she’d gone, Josh blew some raspberries on her belly, handed her some Lego and got back to work.
A year or so later he got another promotion. This time to a national. He worked more. He remembered birthdays and bought expensive presents. He told everyone he couldn’t live without his family. He said he loved them more than anything.
It was then Amy told me she was seeing less and less of his love the more he said it was there. One night at dinner, she put Bonjela on Mike’s new teeth and talked to Ellie about the song she was learning at creche, while Josh read the news, and told her about important developments in the Middle East, what did she think about him becoming a foreign correspondent?
Six months later, they broke up. Josh was devastated. He didn’t know where it’d come from. He loved her, didn’t he? Amy told him sometimes love was not enough.
After that he went abroad, and Amy went back to our hometown. She became a primary school teacher. The kids grew. I see them both every so often, Amy when she gets a night off from the kids, Josh when he comes back home on a flying visit. He brings gifts from abroad, hugs them and tells them how much he loves and misses them.
One day, when I gave him a lift back to the station, I asked him if he didn’t find it hard being away from them so much – I only have one child and a week apart leaves me feeling empty. He said, yes. It’s really hard. I wish I could spend more time with them. I really do, but it’s just so difficult, you know.
I didn’t believe a single word.