[Books We Haven’t Read] The Casual Vacancy

[Books We Haven’t Read] The Casual Vacancy

He’d died. Just like that. Fallen. Keeled over. Kicked the bucket. And now there was an opening on the council. Just like that, everything had changed.

His wife, openly sobbing in the middle of a restaurant, wouldn’t really grieve for him. No, she would grieve for his income. Life insurance didn’t pay out for people who hadn’t been paying in. How would she support the children now? She had been a homemaker. Collecting unemployment benefits would only do so much for their property tax alone, much less feeding two children and a widow.

The man had been a terrible husband, but she didn’t let him know she minded. It was a symptom of being dedicated to his constituents, after all. She could have loved him… if he had been around more. She could have grieved him… if he had been around more. If he had been around more, she could have convinced him to pay more attention to their children.

He hadn’t, so she hadn’t either. That was the way things were.

They had been out together on a date, the first they’d ever had that they specifically designated as such. In the middle of the meal, he collapsed into his plate. His pulse stopped. Her life had to go on.

Their children, what would they do? How would they react to their absent father suddenly becoming more so? She would find out soon enough. Her son, her daughter. Only hers now. Only ever hers to begin with.

Katy and Ben saw her go into her house, later on. After the ambulance ride with a corpse not yet begun to rot. There was no chance to try to save him, the paramedics had said so. Katy and Ben were watching her through the blinds. She saw them while they watched her. Let them see. She had things to take care of.

It hadn’t been a murder. She knew that. If anyone had wanted to kill him, it wouldn’t have been worth the money. What was one measly councilman? Paying him off to sign the proper policies would have been cheaper.

She ran for council. She was turned down. She turned her back on the town, took her children, and became a full time hostess at three different diners to make ends meet. Her kids learned to have two absent parents. Time went by. They lived.

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