The Right Candidate

1:29 am

‘Darling, on your way out, would you mind telling John to clean the stables today?’ asked Sarah.

Richard looked up from his copy of the Financial Times, at his wife of twenty-five years. She was sitting at the other end of the dining table, dressed in her best dress. He knew she reserved this style of dress for meetings in which she was close to signing a deal with a client.

They had got married when they were both thirty, just as he had made his first big bonus at the bank, and she had got her first big pay rise after her involvement in an important merger. 

They had met at a friend’s barbeque. They were both at the start of long, high powered, career paths. He was six foot tall with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was a few inches shorter, with dark brown curly hair and hazel eyes. They made a good looking couple and they fit together well. They had both decided not to have children from the start. There had been some differences, but so far, the marriage had been a successful one.

At present, they were separated by breakfast – toast, butter, eggs, ham, and tea.

‘Certainly,’ he replied.

They sat in silence for the next quarter of an hour, focusing on their cutlery.

He put his newspaper aside, dabbed his lips with a napkin, walked to her and kissed her on the cheek.  

‘See you later, darling’ he said.

‘Yes. Have a nice day,’ she said.

Although Richard’s bank was only some distance away from Sarah’s law firm, they travelled separately to work.

He walked out and went past the garden, the gravel path, the old oak tree, to the stables. John was cleaning the stables already. Richard wished him good morning and stood by Tilly’s stall as she nestled up to him.

‘In fine spirits today, isn’t she?’

‘Yes sir, she is in a good mood today.’

‘And how’s your baby, John?’

 ‘Oh, she’s a delight, sir. The missus and I were up until dawn trying to get her to sleep but when she did, she fell asleep in our arms and then we just lay awake watching her. Isn’t that funny?’

‘Indeed, indeed. Well, can’t stand chatting; I don't want to be late for work. Pip pip, John.’

‘Good day, sir.’

Richard walked back in the direction of the garage. As he walked past the house and the main door, he hesitated for a moment, but then he walked to the car, got in, and drove away.

***

It was a quiet day at the bank. Richard had finished some tasks in the morning and now he took out his tablet to check his mails. Sylvie, the candidate he had found interesting and contacted earlier in the week, had replied to his message and said she would be happy to meet with him at Sauterelle for a spot of lunch. He hastened to reserve a table.

At midday, he locked his work computer and walked out, into the city, to Sauterelle. The other bankers hadn’t come out for lunch yet.

Sylvie arrived just as he did. They were both on time.

They shook hands. Soon they were ushered in by a waiter to a table for two, next to a big window facing the Thames.

‘Why don’t you order, Richard? You must be a regular here,’ said Sylvie, putting away the menu.

‘Sure,’ he replied and busied himself with the menu. When he had ordered their meals, he turned to her and said. ‘So Sylvie, how have things been since the conference?’

‘Oh, not bad. Going on,’ she replied.

‘Good, good. Your family, your husband... all fine?’

‘Yes, they are all very well.’

‘And what about work?’

‘Well…actually, my company went bust. They made the whole team redundant.’

‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. You are currently unemployed?’

‘Yes. I am. In fact, I am looking for other opportunities.’

‘I see.’

The food arrived. The waiter poured the wine out after Richard had given his approval.

‘You know, Sylvie, you made an impression on me when we first met. You gave a great speech at the conference. It was quite succinct, yes, and logical. You were also more confident than the other speakers. I could tell you were a genuine person. I was really quite impressed.’

Sylvie seemed a bit surprised but accepted Richard's compliments with grace.

‘Thank you, you are too kind.’

Richard was quiet for a few moments. Then, he put this cutlery down, and said,

‘This morning, my stable boy was talking about his ten month old daughter...do you have any children yourself?’

‘Not yet, no. What about you?’

‘No. Sarah and I decided not to have children when we were married, over twenty-five years ago now! How long have you been married?’

‘Ten years this September.’

‘Don’t you want children?’

‘Yes of course. But it will happen when it has to. I am not too fussed. We have time.’

They had finished their food. Richard took a big sip from his wine glass.

‘Sylvie. How would you like to bear my child?’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Do you want to have a child with me?’

‘Richard, I don’t understand what you are asking me. First of all, this is just the second time we met. In fact, it is the first time we are speaking properly. Are you asking if I want to have an affair with you? If you are asking me to have an affair with you, the answer is no. We just spoke about my husband!’

‘No, no, no. You misunderstand. The thing is... Sarah has refused to have a child with me. I turn fifty five this year. I really want to have a child. I am a good judge of character and when I met you, I thought to myself, this is a nice, honest, trustworthy person, the right candidate for being a good mother.  This is why I am asking you if you want to bear me a child. You don’t have to worry; we will still be married to our spouses. I love Sarah.’

‘So…’ Sylvie seemed to be struggling to understand, ‘You want a child, but you want one in secret?’

‘Yes.’

‘You want me to have this child and then you want me to bring him/her up?’

‘Yes, exactly!’ Richard was getting excited. His face broke into a big smile, ‘You know, money is no problem, no problem at all! This child will have the best education, the best inheritance. You know, you are pretty good looking and I am pretty good looking. This child will have the best of everything, really.’

His eyes were sparkling.

‘Right. And…what… what will I tell my husband?’

‘Oh, you can explain the situation. Surely he must understand?’

Sylvie stared at him. Then after a moment, she burst into laughter. ‘This is…ridiculous. To think I came here expecting an interview,’ she mumbled and then said, ‘I’m sorry, Richard. It sounds like a fascinating prospect, it really does, but I must refuse your offer. I have to say, I felt pretty miserable without a job but I actually feel much better now. Thanks!’

‘Oh. So it's a no?’

‘Yes.’

‘You are sure?’

‘Yes, absolutely, 100%.’

‘Nothing I can say or offer can convince you? Not even a big salary?’

‘No.’

‘Oh, alright.’

‘Have you told your wife any of this?’

‘Oh no, don’t be silly, that would be the end of our marriage.’

‘So what are you going to do now?’

‘Oh it’s alright. I just have to keep trying to find the right candidate, that’s all.’





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