(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”.