What is the summary of "It's Beginning to Hurt" by James Lasdun?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"It's Beginning to Hurt" is the title short story of a collection of short stories by the same name: It's Beginning to Hurt. Interestingly, Lasdun symbolically associates the "hurt" that is beginning in each story with the profusely blooming cherry tree on the cover of the book and featured in a significant way in "A Bourgeois Story."

"It's Beginning to Hurt" is a two-and-a-half page story that begins with the protagonist's wife asking him to pick up wild salmon at "Dalgliesh's." During the course of his time, his mistress has a few words with him. He had always counted himself lucky and part of his luck, it seemed to him, was that his mistress had never asked him to leave his family for her. On the day that his wife asks him to pick up wild salmon, his mistress says, "it's beginning to hurt," and ends their affair.

"Marie never asked him to leave his family, and he had regarded this too as part of his luck. And then, abruptly, she had ended it. 'I'm in love with you,' she'd told him matter-of-factly, 'and it's beginning to hurt.'"

When he returns home, his wife, waiting for his arrival at the train station, asks where the salmon is when she sees he carries no shopping. He stammers because he'd left the wild salmon behind; his wild love affair and his wild salmon both lost at a stroke. His wife's reaction indicates he may lose more yet.

His wife was waiting for him outside the station.
"Where's the salmon?" she asked.
A sudden horror spread through him.
"I--I left it behind."
She turned abruptly away, then stared back at him a moment.
"You're a fool," she said. "You're a complete bloody fool."