The kettle boiled, the tea is made and the shout went up.
Phillip came into the kitchen in his usual way. The slapping of loose slippers on the solid wooden floor. The same slippers that he has worn for over twenty years. Soiled, frayed and leather soles better than ice skate blades. He walks with his toes curled up. A habit engineered over the years that prevented a landing on his backside. He is at least fifty. Maybe at least sixty. Difficult to tell really. No glasses but the squinty slightly watering eyes of a book keeper. No sign of his past good looks. Working with figures in a badly lit room, hunched over reams of paper had put paid to them long ago. Just the thought of fresh air affected his metabolism. A cold sweat. Today he is wearing the same brown trousers and white creased shirt but with a bright yellow short sleeved pullover. The only concession to his drab existence. A sleeveless pullover. Seven colours, seven pullovers. Starting at red ending in blue. All bright. Like poster paints. Young children’s paints designed to visually stimulate. That is not the intention though. Merely an aid to remembering the day of the week. Today is Tuesday.
“Thank you dear.” The same reply for over thirty years and at exactly eleven o’clock. “Is there a biscuit?”
“Yes dear on the plate.” He knew they were there it is just a habit from that first time thirty two years ago when there was no biscuit and he had to ask.
“Going shopping soon. Leaving in about fifteen minutes and will be back in time to make lunch at one o’clock.” To be late would only lead to distress. No argument. No recrimination. Just an inability to accept any change in his daily life.
Jane Evans. Married to Phillip for thirty two years. Maybe a mistake. No, definitely a mistake. At first there had been some sort of spark. He had a sports car. Was reasonably well off with a thriving book keeping business. Cooking the books for local firms. Massaging figures to save some tax. He was good at it. However unlikely it may seem now, she was seduced. She had been lonely. Her long engagement had broken down and most of her friends were missing. If there was a breath, only momentarily had it been fresh. And then the rot. Only took two years. Just one result. An uphill slog. A long trudge of dreariness. As a result she feels drab, dresses drab, is unexcited. But her long dark hair is well combed. She did care. Had an underlying good looking face and for her age a very trim figure. Probably the result of no children that would have brightened her up. The long green cardigan is from Granny’s era. Dated. She grabbed her shopping bags and headed out the door. Took the car. A black basic model Volvo.
The shopping centre is large and has a big department store. Five floors served by stairs and a set of three lifts. All sorts are sold. Fashions, smellies, jewellery the list is endless. Today it is quite quiet. There are a few shoppers but they are spread thin around all the departments. On the top floor where soft furnishings are located two men, thirtyish, are waiting for a lift. The button on the centre lift showed red. The arrow pointing up. Third floor and rising. The lift arrives. The doors open. Standing astride in the entrance is a lady in a dark brown, very soft fur coat. Her arms are raised with a hand holding each lapel. In the centre. Right lapel right hand. Left lapel left hand. Her face is smiling, her blond hair loose and tussled. Suddenly her hands are spread apart and thrown wide. The coat opening in a theatrical flourish. She is completely naked. From head to toe. Except for a long double string of white pearls around her neck. Toe nails bright red. She laughs. A loud cheerful expressively joyous laugh and extend the already beaming grin. Her hands drop. She presses the button. The doors close and she is gone. Leaving the two men stunned. A “what the hell” expression dissolving into hysterical laughter.
At twelve forty five Jane returns home. The same old returning shout.
“I am back. Lunch in fifteen minutes.”
She walks into the kitchen. Making lunch is such a bore.