There were many signs leading up to my parents splitting up when I was a kid. Most of them were contained to our household so I could go on pretending everything was fine when I was at school until a neighbour decided to stir things up.
I’ll name her Hortence because I don’t like that name and I am really sorry if you do or if it is your name. Hortence lived in an ugly mcmansion on our mostly heritage-listed street. We weren’t especially close but we were the same age and in the same class so at school we usually ended up playing in the same group. None of my neighbours really liked her family. They were mean and snobbish. The neighbourhood kids liked playing near their house because it was a flat part of the street but if a ball or anything landed in their yard, the father would confiscate it and Hortence would brag about it at school.
One day I was playing hopscotch, handball or something like that with my friends at school and Hortence decided to ask really loudly, “Why don’t I see your dad’s car around your house much these days?”
My father was busy having affairs, traveling and traveling to have affairs no doubt so he wasn’t around much but the last thing I wanted was to be different to everyone else. I went bright red and almost cried. I hated Hortence for bringing it up so I mumbled something about him being really busy with work.
Hortence continued hassling me up until my parents split up. Then she would say, “I never see your dad’s car anymore, did he sell it?” I knew she didn’t care about the car or about my father, she wanted me to admit that my family had fallen apart. I never told her the truth and ended up changing schools which meant I no longer had to deal with her and could openly tell my new friends that my parents were separated, as though they had always been.