“Maybe we should take a trip this weekend?”
I offer it up but with no real enthusiasm. Put it out there. Knowing full well it’ll be shot down.
“Where do you want to go Ray?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a cheese place or something?”
I feel like there’s an opening so I keep talking. Warm to my theme like some riffing comedian we used to watch at the studio years back.
“Yeah, cheese. Bread. Olives. One of those fancy artisan markets.”
Lena shakes her head. “You know we can’t afford it Ray.”
“Yeah ok, times are tough I know that. But we can make a plan. Would be nice to do something…nice. For once.” My voice has a pleading edge to it that I barely recognise but know all too well. “There’ll be stuff for the kids. They’ll have a blast.”
“No, they won’t.” Lena puts down her phone and stares at me.
“Look. I’m sorry, get back to whoever you were texting I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“You’re not disturbing me.” The words spill out a little too quickly for truth.
“It’s fine. It was just an idea.”
“We can’t afford it. And the kids will just scream and whine like always. You’ll get fed up in five minutes.”
“Wow. So now it’s my fault that a day we haven’t even had has been ruined?”
“You know how you get.”
I choke down a few responses but I’m getting angry fast. Say nothing. Let it go.
“Have you ever thought that maybe I’m trying to get better at this? That maybe if you didn’t smash me down before we even try something that I might surprise you?”
“I’m just saying you know how it goes.” Lena goes back to her phone. “Why are we even fussing about this, you know we can’t afford it.”
If I had a hammer
The lyric and snatch of melody drops into my brain and I laugh.
“What’s so funny.” It’s delivered as a statement and without a glance. Like the effort of interacting with something other than a smartphone is too much to muster even a question.
“Nothing. Just something in my head.” The something in my head that wishes it had a hammer right now so it could smash both your thumbs against the screen.
It’s impossible to rage against the wall. My anger needs the fuel of engagement and the disconnect is like trying to burn in a vacuum. I can taste the metallic edge of the flat black pit.
“There’s a mountain rising between us Lena. We’re like two plates of the earth moving silently past each other, failing to connect but rubbing up enough friction to mound the earth. And as it drives us further to our poles the rising ground gets covered in the ashes of the shredded commonalities that once bonded us in place. Time creeps on and we drift like unwitting continents, you on yours and I on mine. I wonder when we stop if we’ll still be able to hear each other over the divide.”
“Sorry. What did you say? I was just replying to Chris. She’s been fighting with her boss again and she just needs to vent. She’s going to the Courtyard food market on Sunday, I said we should try to catch up.”
“We can’t afford it.”
“Yeah but it would be nice to do something…nice. For once.”
I’d hammer in the morning…
Header image: By Mauret – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7426591