by Robin Wrigley
a large glass of red wine
‘Did you wash your hands John?’
‘For Christ sake Marjorie, how many bloody times are you going to ask me that? Of course, I did knowing that the Uber Fuhrer from the Stasi is watching my every move.’
‘You’ve no need to be quite so rude. You’ve said yourself that you often forget.’
‘There are times my dear woman I forget a lot of things. I only wish I was able to forget I was stuck in this house with you. Besides which no sooner I wash them you think of something else for me to do which then requires me to wash them again. So, I duly do and the moment I get the tap running hot enough I have an urge to have a pee and must start all over yet again! This is ten times worse than being back at boarding school.’
‘Darling do try to keep your anger under control. Remember what the doctor said about your heart. The last thing we want is for you to require any form of emergency. This whole situation is terribly trying for both of us. It’s just as bad for me you know.’
‘How could I know that? I’m not a woman. Come to that you didn’t go to boarding school. Did you?’
‘Oh, how can you ask me a question like that. You know I didn’t?’
‘Well there you are, I told you I forget things.
‘But not things like that. I know we’ve been married a long time but basic facts and likes and dislikes between married couples are sacred. These should remain in your head all your life unless you develop Alzheimer’s, or have you?’
‘Of course not. Why are you making such a big deal about it?’
‘Why? I’ll tell you why , John Reynolds, because they are the sort of things one simply knows about one’s partner after forty-odd years together. Now you suddenly say you simply don’t remember.
‘You mean fifty-odd years, don’t you?’
‘Is it really? Yes, I suppose it is.’
‘Now who’s memory is slipping.’
‘Alright how about another basic fact. What’s my favourite colour?’
‘C’mon dear that is below the belt. How on earth would I remember that?’
‘You see you neither know nor care. I’ve often thought in recent times that you regretted marrying me.’
‘Oh, not that one again? I should have known this was leading there. We’re only into the second week of this wretched lock-down and I have to say I love you or some such tosh. I would have thought the mere fact that I’m here having this conversation with you should be adequate confirmation that I don’t regret marrying you. Isn’t it?’
‘The trouble is John we don’t really talk with one another, anymore do we?’
‘What are we doing now pray tell me.’
Marjorie, close to tears gets up and heads out of the room. ‘I’m going to make a cup of tea. I can’t bear anymore of your triteness and silly remarks.’
John sighs out loud and puts his head in his hands. Raising his head again he gets up and walks to the French windows and looks out into the garden.
In the kitchen Marjorie busies herself filling the water jug and switching it on. She bends down and pulls out a biscuit tin and puts it on the countertop. Tears by now were running down her cheeks and she stifles a sob. Wiping her eyes and blowing her nose with a piece of kitchen-towel she searches for a plate to put the biscuits on. I really hate him when he gets like this she thinks, almost out loud. If only we’d had children, it might have been so different.
John is still looking out of the French window as she enters carrying a tray with two cups, a pot of tea, milk and sugar and a plate of chocolate digestive biscuits, his favourite. She couldn’t rightly define what her favourite was. She had spent so many years trying her utmost to please her husband she seldom considered herself. He turns on hearing her placing the tray on the coffee table and sits down in his armchair. She keeps her head down attempting to hide her face and concentrates pouring his tea.
‘Have you been crying Margorie?’
‘No, yes, it’s all your fault. You just don’t understand. When you went into for your bypass last month I was worried out of my mind. It wasn’t simply a case of being worried for you, when I got home, I started thinking about what would happen to me if you didn’t survive.’
‘That is nice to know that you were more concerned about yourself than me.’
‘I knew you would take it the wrong way. What I mean is that you are such a private man. John. You keep everything almost clothed in secrecy. I know nothing about our finances or anything like that.’
‘But you’ve never shown any interest in it before. Why didn’t you ask?’
‘Because I shouldn’t have to ask. There is so much I really don’t know about that and many other things about you. Personal things that after all these years together I simply surmise rather than actually know.’
‘I see, or rather I think I do. Perhaps I should first apologise for not ever considering any of this. Perhaps we should use this period of our incarceration in getting to know one another properly. I must say I’m just as ignorant of really knowing what you think about either. Apart from that one conversation we had about you not getting pregnant I suppose we never have discussed much about each other ever.’
John takes a bite into a biscuit and smiles at his wife and reaches across and takes her hand squeezing it gently. She in turn returns his smile albeit somewhat shyly.
‘Yes, thank dear, that would be very nice.’
About the author
Robin is a regular contributor to CafeLit both on line and in the annual published anthologies. He is a member of the Wimborne Writers’ Group