Tag Archives: marriage

2007. What to do?

(Just before today’s story! – a quick note to say that my childhood “autobiography” – Bits of a Boyhood – has been wonderfully reviewed by Iseult Murphy – HERE! She is the most prolific reader online and she posts many reviews that are well worth it. Thank you, Iseult! And so to today’s story:)

 

Francine didn’t know what exactly she had in mind when she said “I would very much like to have some time alone.” She had said that to her husband. She needed space. It’s not that he did anything untoward; it’s just that she needed the occasional break from his sporadic odd behaviour. He wouldn’t go to the doctor; possibly he didn’t need to go to the doctor, but Francine was not capable of diagnosing “what was going on”. For example, he would open and close a door four or five times before going through it. He didn’t always do that. Things like that went in “bouts”.

And that is why Francine needed to take the occasional break. This time however, things were different. He had taken his pet canary out of its cage and thrown it to freedom out the window. He had set the dishwasher going three times when there weren’t any dishes to wash. And now he was standing at the door between the sitting room and the dining room and opening and closing it and saying over and over “Come in! Come in!”

Francine consoled herself by joking that perhaps he was trying to welcome back his escaped canary.

Eventually she said, as she had said before, that he needed to go and see a doctor. But he answered (and he seemed quite normal and lovely in his answer) that he didn’t need to do that. There was nothing wrong with him. The stress was all in Francine’s head.

And that is when Francine said, “I would very much like to have some time alone”. Arnold said, “Alright then, why don’t you go for a walk?” So Francine put on her walking shoes and went for a long walk, and thought about things without coming to any conclusion.

When she got home Arnold was in the kitchen cooking some bananas in the oven. She asked him what he was doing and he said the television had said not to feed the dog raw meat.

“But bananas are not meat,” said Francine, “and we don’t have a dog.”

Anyway, by evening Arnold was back to normal. They watched a TV program together and had a normal conversation, and then Arnold went to bed.

Francine sat in the armchair wondering what to do. She honestly didn’t know what she should do next. If Arnold had dropped dead it would be sad of course but definite. Instead, everything was so “up in the air”.

2004. Innocent of murder

Well, Officer, I didn’t mean to kill him. He was my husband, after all. I dare say some married couples reach a stage where one or the other want to kill the spouse off. That certainly wasn’t the case with my husband and me.

I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean to say I wanted to kill him. Murder couldn’t have been further from my mind. As you must be able to tell from my personality, I hardly know one end of a gun from another. So it’s quite silly to accuse me of murdering my husband. His death was an accident.

Yes I know he was having a torrid affair with that cheap and tasteless woman who volunteers in the Opportunity Shop. You know the one? She wears artificial fur, and tights with leopard markings. And her shoes, when she’s wearing them – goodness me! She certainly undresses for the part. I wish she had been standing next to my husband when he was shot. I just might have fortuitously missed my husband and shot her instead. By accident of course.

No! No! I certainly didn’t mean to kill George. I wanted to fire bullets into his knees and into that area below the belt and above the knees. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to suffer like you wouldn’t believe. Dying was not meant to be an option. Murder never! I wanted the agony to be slow, painful, and permanent.

1888. I can’t think of everything at once

“I can’t think of everything at once” was Bella’s way of not only trying to find a reason for what happened, but her way of coping with the situation.

Dale had left Bella quite unexpectedly. One minute they were happily married, or so Bella thought, and the next minute he’d upped and left and was cohabitating with that floosy from the confectionary shop down on the corner of Shelley Street. Bella had no idea what he saw in her. And now Bella was on her own. The dividing of the matrimonial goods hadn’t as yet happened, but Bella was ensconced in the joint house and she wasn’t budging for the time being. Besides, it was winter and the house had a log fire and lots of firewood stack in the shed. She would cope.

On a rather chilly winter’s evening Bella discovered she had let the log fire go out. Dale had always set and lit the fire but she wasn’t entirely impractical. She screwed up some pages of newspaper and wigwammed some kindling over the top of it. That was when she discovered that she couldn’t think of everything at once. Dale had always lit the fire with his cigarette lighter. There were no matches in the house. Matches had not been on her grocery list.

Of course it was a silly idea, but Bella had heard since early childhood that primitive humans started a fire by rubbing two sticks together. She didn’t have a clue how to do it, and suspected very much that it wouldn’t work anyway. For a time she thought she would stay warm by wrapping herself up in blankets. She would buy some matches tomorrow. But then Bella thought of a solution.

She rolled up a sheet of newspaper tightly. She went to the kitchen, turned on the toaster, and from the element of the toaster she lit the rolled up newspaper. On the way to the wood burner with her burning torch she brushed past the lacy curtains in the dining room.

It’s always a shame when nothing is insured.

(Note: Today’s story number of 1888 is out of sync. That’s because a month or so back Story 1888 was missed – so this is a catch-up!)

1984. Honey, I never made it

Granville had made his wife, Doreen, the most beautiful rocking chair. It had taken him months of secret working in the shed out the back. Doreen never knew what he was up to. She supposed he was simply messing about, and then one day he produced the rocking chair and said “I made this for you, Honey.”

What a beautiful chair! Carved legs! A perfect, perfect rocking motion! Even the sweetest cushion on the seat!

“What a clever husband I have!” declared Doreen. “Who would have believed?”

But the truth was, Granville had started to make a rocking chair and things didn’t work out. It was a mess, so he had a rocking chair made. It certainly was a magnificent rocking chair, but he had merely pretended to have made it himself.

“What a clever husband I have!” repeated Doreen. “Who would have believed?” She was over the moon.

Sometime later, Granville was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He grew weaker by the day. He knew, as he reviewed his life, that entrance to eternity perhaps demanded sorrow for sins. He simply had to tell Doreen about the rocking chair.

It was clear that the end was near. Granville still hadn’t confessed to Doreen. And then, with one gigantic effort he declared “Honey, I never made it”. Within seconds he was dead.

Doreen always thought, as she rocked her way through widowhood, that Granville’s final “Honey, I never made it” was some premonition that he had been refused entrance through the Pearly Gates.

1965. Just down the corridor

(This is the fourth of seven days of Science Faction).

Bevan lived in a single bedroom apartment block. It’s not the living arrangement he would have preferred, but it would do for the time being. He was saving to buy a proper home, with a small garden and lawn, and proper neighbours over the fence – not neighbours who could be described as “a couple of doors down the corridor”.

It wasn’t long before he noticed Magdalene. Her apartment was on the same floor. She was always very pleasant when they passed. In fact, she was straight-out lovely. They seemed to be roughly the same age. Her clothes and makeup were always done to perfection. Her personality was bubbly. Her speech was music. In fact, Bevan used to keep his door slightly ajar so he wouldn’t miss her when she came home. He didn’t want to not accidentally have the pleasure of bumping into her.

There was only one thing for it: he would have to ask her out on a date. It should be nothing too formal like a meal at a fancy restaurant. Maybe a movie followed by a coffee in a café. Twice he walked passed her door but was too afraid to knock.

“Blow it!” he thought one late Sunday afternoon. “It’s now or never.” He strode along the corridor before he had time to chicken out. He knocked. The door opened.

Oh my God! Great Scot! It was disgusting! She had forgotten to put on her artificial face. Her head was a squirming ball of worms and maggots. This intergalactic alien wasn’t one person; she was a thousand.

“Hold it! I’ll just put on my face.” She disappeared for no more than thirty seconds. When she reappeared it was the lovely Magdalene once again. “Just don’t tell anyone,” she said.

And that is how Bevan was silenced into owning his own home with a small garden and lawn, and proper neighbours over the fence. His delightful spouse wears her artificial face all the time these days.

Except when she takes a shower.

1959. A finger in every pie

Wendy and Ronald didn’t eat out that often. Now and again they might go to a fast-food chain and get something. Not to take home, but to simply have there and then on one of the outside, bird-crapped tables. But still, an outing is an outing. It’s a change of scene if not exactly dining at the Ritz.

They normally liked to eat healthy. They were not fuss-pots about food but I suppose they could be called “careful eaters”. Healthy eating meant that going to get an unhealthy meat pie or an unhealthy hamburger and French fries once in a while was an absolute treat!

It was while Ronald was tucking onto his kangaroo and double egg burger that he came across a finger; a human finger. Although he wasn’t sure because he had already bitten into it and therefore pulled the finger out of his mouth, he was ninety percent sure that the finger had been stuck in the kangaroo meat rissole.

“Look what I found in my hamburger!” exclaimed Ronald to Wendy. “Someone’s index finger!”

“It’s not an index finger,” said Wendy. “I think it’s a middle finger.”

“How would you know that?” said Ronald. “They’re both very much the same.”

A wee argument ensued, with both Wendy and Robert sticking to their guns; although Wendy reckoned it was from a right hand and Ronald from a left. In the end they were able to laugh about it.

“It’s an unresolved mystery,” said Ronald as he scrapped his leftover meal with the uneaten finger into the waste bin. “I guess it’s something we will never solve.”

Which just goes to show, if a moral is to be taken from this episode, that wee matrimonial disagreements can sometimes be solved with a little laughter.

1945. The case of the mysterious proposal

When Anita got to the last sip of her tea at the rather sophisticated afternoon tea-party there was an engagement ring at the bottom of her cup. Her first thought was “I was lucky not to have swallowed all those diamonds”. Then she wondered whose ring may have slipped off as they drank tea and she had picked up the wrong cup. And then she wondered, “I wonder if this ring was meant for me? I have dated two of the men here but I doubt that either was serious enough.”

She glanced around. No one seemed to be watching her. No one seemed to be waiting for a “Yes!” No one seemed to be anticipating a surreptitious shriek of excitement to escape her cherry red lips.

If the proposal was real it would be so banal to simply say, “Hey! Look what I found!” She would spend an entire marriage living with the dullness of having not looked pleased at the marriage proposal.

George came over to her. He was undoubtedly the handsomest man there – or so Anita thought – although he wasn’t one of the two that Anita had been out on dates with.

“How’s it going?” said George.

“Good,” said Anita. “And how are you?”

“Good,” said George. “Would you like another cup of tea?”

“I’d love one,” said Anita.

George took Anita’s cup and saucer and headed for the table with the teapot. He returned.

“Thank you so much,” said Anita. George moved further around the room.

Needless to say, Anita was rather keen to get to the bottom of her cup. Was the ring still there? She was halfway through sips of her too, too hot tea when Berwyn began squealing in the far corner of the room.

“Oh George! Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Oh Georgie darling! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

1944. I didn’t know

Apparently I can’t do much right. I mean, how is a guy to know these things? I gave her a bunch of yellow roses and she said yellow meant “goodbye” – at least in her vocabulary of flowers. I wrapped some white gladiolas in some black tissue paper. I thought it looked stunning and she said that to wrap things in black paper meant everything was over.

It just went on and on. I didn’t know she was allergic to peanuts when I cooked up some Chinese using peanut oil. I didn’t know that years ago her grandfather had drowned and it was insensitive of me to say “Let’s go to the municipal swimming baths on this hot day.” When I asked “Would you like a wine?” I didn’t know her mother was an alcoholic. I didn’t know she had run over her cat when she backed out of her garage. I didn’t know she detested football. I didn’t know that there wasn’t a thing in the world that didn’t upset her. Everything under the sun brought on shocking memories and reactions. I didn’t know she was a Pandora ’s Box of carping whinges.

On and on and on and on and on. I didn’t know at the time that my brother was right when he told me I was a fool to marry her. Good luck to the guy she’s eloped with.

1931. A story with an illuminating moral

Milton was a perfectionist. It was basically why he never finished anything; unfinished poems, unfinished paintings, unfinished model aeroplanes, unfinished garden… He even had a cake gone mouldy in a cake tin awaiting the final layer of frosting.

It’s not that he wasn’t talented. In fact, most things he touched turned to gold. “You have the Midas Touch,” said his Carla who lived down the road. “Everything you touch turns to gold. If only you would declare something finished.”

Of course, most of the things Milton began he did in fact finish. It’s just that he was never completely satisfied with the finished product. A pruned hedge would always have a leaf out of place; a landscape scene could always be signed on the left-hand side instead of the right; a finger for four seconds longer on the pottery lathe could transform a pot; two minutes more in the oven could turn his oatmeal cookies into culinary masterpieces. He was forever fiddling.

He knew he had a problem. That is when Carla from down the road stepped prominently into his life. Carla finished everything, but she finished everything in the sloppiest manner and then would quickly move on to another interest. Her artistic standards were as appalling as Milton’s were finicky.

It was most unfortunate that they fell in love. They moved in together. Their house was an utter mess; an unbelievable chaos. Both blamed the other. They each planned a murder with guns. Carla pointed the gun at Milton and pulled the trigger. Her manner was sloppy. The bullet missed and made a hole in the print of John Constable’s Flatford Mill hanging crooked on the wall. Milton was more precise. He pointed the gun but simply could not finish the job.

They both agreed – what the heck! They compromised. These days they manage to help each other out.

1929. One never knows

When Elaine and Charlie announced their marriage engagement everyone knew instinctively that it was a relationship concocted in heaven. They were perfect for each other. Both were mean. Both were snarky. Both could be malicious. In no time they’d knock the rough corners off one another. It wasn’t so much cruelty of action; it was cruelty of tongue. Both could make ground meat out of a tough steak simply by verbal lashing.

The engagement period seemed to go well. There were no volcanic eruptions – much to everyone’s disappointment. Then the wedding day arrived and they had chosen a simple wedding in a little country church, with just a few friends and family members. They returned from an extensive honeymoon even more convivial than when they left. The pundits’ disappointment continued.

Next came a baby, and another, and a third. This was getting ridiculous. The relationship wasn’t meant to last. Pre-nuptial common sense demanded a marriage breakdown.

And then one day Elaine lost her job as a school secretary. Apparently she had expressed an opinion that favoured the wrong political party. That was when the waspish habits of bygone years leaped back into gear. Both Charlie and Elaine stood in front of the principal’s desk.

They hadn’t lost the touch. No indeed!

That was years ago. They’re grandparents now. Many of their acquaintance’s marriages have disintegrated. One never knows.