When Natalie came home from school she overheard her mother say to her little brother, “You’re not to do that again. It was very naughty.”
“But the cat was hungry.”
“I told you not to feed the cat between meals. It will get fat. So feed the cat only in the mornings and in the evenings. I’ve enough to do without having to run around covering up for your naughtiness.”
Later Natalie asked her mother what was wrong with feeding the cat, and her mother said that it was wrong to overfeed pets. “You should know that because of your goldfish. You can feed them too much and they overeat and die.”
For the rest of the day Natalie noticed that her little brother was pouting. He never liked being told off, and Natalie made it worse by reinforcing what their mother had said, and told him that “he shouldn’t overfeed his cat. You are a very naughty boy” – which made her little brother pout even more.
Later, when Natalie went to feed her goldfish it almost looked the same but she was pretty sure it was a different fish.
It had gone on for twenty-seven years. Clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?
Dora was knitting. Twenty-seven years ago Dora’s husband, Sven, had rather casually said during the evening meal, that her pickled turnips were nice but not exactly his favourite dish. Dora had taken offence, got out the knitting needles and entered into a knitting-pout. In fact, these days there was no conversation at all. Just clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?
Initially Sven had relished the lack of conversation. He could read the evening newspaper undistracted. But for these last seven years the clack clack clack of the needles imposing itself upon the silence was driving him nuts. The volume was growing by the day. It was loud and demanding. It was thunderous.
Only the other day Dora had fallen asleep in the armchair while halfway through knitting a complex row. Her jawbone almost hit her chest. Her mouth was agape. Sven thought he need only grab a knitting needle and plunge it into her heart and all would be over. As easy as that! He half rose.
Dora awoke. She began counting the stitches. Where was she up to in the pattern? And then…
Clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?