Some little drama

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She sat with her back to the window on the sofa in the living room. Rain was slowly sifting down outside. She had not noticed it. When she came home the sky was cloudy, but it was not raining. It had been raining hard for the past few days and she did not notice when it started again. She turned the newspaper over and read the front page. “I smell onions,” she said. She heard plates and cutlery in the kitchen, but no reply. Then she looked up from her paper. “Honey?”

“Yes dear?” He looked around the corner of the kitchen at her. He wiped his hands on the apron tied around his waist.

“I smell onions,” she said. “It smells good.”

“It’s almost done,” he said and stepped back inside. She heard him stir something. Then she heard him pour something. She turned a page of her newspaper. She mouthed the words as she read an article silently. Then she looked up again from her newspaper.

“It is a pity that the Gordons couldn’t come tonight. But I suppose after what happened we won’t be seeing them for a while.”

She heard him move inside the kitchen, setting up the plates, stirring something inside a pot again.

“Then again, Tracy is one who had never been deterred by anything before. I swear that woman has not a single shameful bone in her body.”

She heard the kettle boiling.

“It has been brewing for a while, this thing between them,” she said, the newspaper folded open on her lap, her hands resting on it. “Some people are like that, they allow things to grow between them and to become something awful like that. Poor Andrew,” she said. “That man had to sit there in the restaurant and endure the whole thing, his wife going on and on and he couldn’t say a single word. I really felt sorry for him. We won’t see him for some time. But Tracy is not like that. She has not a single shameful bone inside her. Some people are like that. They don’t allow anything to touch them.”

She heard chairs being moved in the kitchen. Then he peeked around at her, wiped his hands on his apron and said, “Dinner’s ready.”

“Let’s not become like the Gordons,” she said. He had served her some soup and a cup of tea: milk and no sugar, the way she always had it. She sipped the soup from her spoon and smacked her lips lightly. Then she scooped another spoonful and took another sip. “Needs salt,” she said. He stood up and fetched the saltshaker and handed it to her.

“What’s the matter with the Gordons?”

“Everything,” she said and handed the shaker back to him. He put it back in place and sat down again.

“They are a married couple,” he said.

“Are all married couples like that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Are we going to be like that?”

“No,” he said and looked up at her. She was looking at him. “We won’t be like them,” he said. “We’ll be different.”

He was washing the dishes while she took a shower. “I could be forgiven,” he said, “for thinking these days are all the same.”

His hands hung limply in the warm water. He could feel the skin on his fingers and the palms of his hands slowly shrivelling against the soap. He looked up and saw his face in the window in front of him. He could not see the backyard, only his face and the soft rain behind it. He heard the shower running in the bathroom. “To change things I would have to be a man,” he said, speaking to his reflection. “To change things, to change things, it would take some courage to change things.” The face in the window looked at him a few moments before blinking its eyes. The rain drew a soft lacy curtain behind it in the dark. Then the face turned away.

He heard the shower running and then he heard the taps creak and the water stop. He dried the last dish and pulled the plug and watched the soap spiral into the hole. He heard the bathroom door open and he heard her footsteps moving into the bedroom. Then he heard her call to him, “Honey, are you coming to bed?”

“I’m coming,” he replied and dried his hands on the dishcloth and hung the cloth on the railing against the wall and removed his apron, folded it and put it in the drawer.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” she said. She was sitting on the bed, wearing her white night-dress, her knees folded in, her feet underneath her, her hands in her lap. “I can’t stop thinking about the fight that the Gordons had.”

He was undressing in front of her. She watched him slip out of his pants and shirt.

“I was thinking about how it would be if something like that had happened to us,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anything like that to happen to us,” she said.

“Me neither,” he said and sat down beside her on the bed, and kicked his socks to one side.

“But the Gordons would not have wanted it either,” she said. “Things like that do happen, whether you want them to or not.”

“I guess so,” he said and climbed into bed.

“Don’t get in yet,” she said.

“Why?”

“Just don’t, I have an idea. I need you to be out of bed.”

He swept the sheet aside and swung his legs over the side and sat up again. “An idea,” he said.

“Pretend that you are Andrew,” she said, “and I’ll pretend to be your wife.”

“Why?”

“So I can see how it will be if we ever fight like that. Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“I guess.”

“Pretend that you are Andrew,” she said. “We are going to pretend to fight.”

“What about?”

“Anything. Think about something, say something to me, anything.”

“I don’t like this,” he said.

“You don’t have to like this,” she said. “Do this for me.”

“Okay,” he said, sitting beside her on the bed. “Okay, I’ll try.”

“Good,” she said, looking at him. “All I need you to do is try.”

He spoke after a few moments of silence. “Sometimes,” he said, “sometimes, I think you lie to me.”

“What about?”

“Where you go and what you do. Sometimes I think you lie to me about where you go and what you do. Sometimes, I think, you lie to me about whom you’re with.”

“Why would I lie? What gives you that idea?”

“I can’t help thinking about it,” he said. “A man phoned here one evening, when you went away for that weekend.”

“What man?”

“I don’t know. It was shortly after you left on that weekend you said was for work, and then I couldn’t help thinking about it. I thought about it all weekend and it still won’t go away.”

“I love you,” she said. “Maybe this was not a good idea.”

“Some words are empty and will always remain that way, no matter what you do,” he said, “no matter what you may think they weigh.”

“Please stop,” she said. “Let’s rather not do this anymore.”

“No, I think we should,” he said, standing up from the bed. “I think there is a lot more that needs to be said.”

“Please stop,” she said.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Of course I do,” she replied. “Please stop. I don’t feel good anymore. I feel vulnerable about this.”

“Vulnerable is not such a bad thing to be,” he said. “It implies trust, doesn’t it? One has to be vulnerable and trust another? It’s not such a bad thing to be, it seems to me.”

She stood up from the bed and moved opposite him, facing him. “I don’t like this anymore,” she said.

“Let’s continue, for a little while longer, there’s something I’m getting at,” he said.

“There’s no need for this,” she said. “I don’t like what you’re getting at. This feels too much like something old, like something we’ve talked about before. This is no good.”

“It will be good,” he said.

“It won’t be any good,” she said. “You get worked up over things.”

“I won’t get worked up if you are honest,” he said.

“It’s a game,” she said. “We were playing a game and now you are getting worked up over it.” She stood nearer and stretched out a hand and touched his arm. He jerked away.

“Leave me alone, why don’t you just leave me alone for once.”

“Don’t be like that,” she said. “You’re getting worked up again.”

“I don’t know what else to be,” he said. “This is who I am.”

“Don’t be so fucking dramatic,” she said.

Then she turned away. “I’m feeling different about this now,” she said. “Maybe we should stop.”

He watched her back. A few moments of silence followed before he spoke again.
“Our love is sweet,” he said, coming up from behind her, putting his arms around her. “Our love is sweet,” he said, putting his chin on her shoulder and speaking into her ear. “Our love is sweet and sweet it will always be.”

She turned inside his hug and kissed him. “Good,” she said. “That’s the way I want it to be.”

Afterward he brought some coffee to bed. She read the newspaper. They said very little to each other. She sat up reading for a while and finished the coffee and turned over and switched off the lamp on her side of the bed. Soon she was snoring softly, sleeping on her side, with her back to him. He looked at the soft curls of brown hair against her bare shoulder, her elbows pinching her hands into her sides, and her arms folded. This is the way she always slept beside him. He always accepted that this was the way she felt safe in her sleep, lying beside him, sharing a bed with him.

He looked away and felt uneasy about something. It came creeping, softly, from the corner of the bedroom where it must have been waiting for a while, waiting there for the opportunity, and coming from over there and now it was here. He looked away and saw the shadow of rain against the curtain. He thought of maybe trying to remember to ask her something the next morning. He thought maybe he should write it down in order not to forget. He thought about it and watched the shadows of rain against the curtain. He thought about the next day, he thought about tomorrow. Then he switched off the light and turned on his side, facing the curtain. He watched the rain against the curtain and soon he, too, was asleep. He did not write the question down.

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