“Is he asleep?”
“Fuck knows.” Richard sighed and sat down on the arm of the sofa. “Shame. It isn’t his fault. I know he’s been sick but I’m running out of patience.”
“Did you read him some more of his book?”
“Yes. Another chapter of the Faraway Tree in which our plucky heroes once again failed to end up in the land of free and plentiful booze. I’m still convinced Moon-Face turns into Shit-Faced the minute he sends the little fuckers packing down the slippery-slip.”
Sam laughed and looked up from her phone. “He loves you reading to him you know Rich.”
Richard rubbed his neck and yawned. “Yeah I know. I enjoy it too. I just wish…”
“Yes. Saturday’s are not quite what they used to be are they?”
“No. They most certainly aren’t. But like all things it can be fixed with alcohol. Can I pour you some wine?”
“Sure. Why not. Going to be a while until we have supper.”
“I’ve got some cheap and nasty Chenin Blanc or some equally cheap and nasty Chardonnay. Any preference?”
“You truly did miss your calling as a salesman. Let’s go with the Chenin.”
“You can go with it by yourself. I’ve got three more bottles of that Bolivian Shiraz they were selling off to get through. It isn’t going to drink itself.” Richard groaned at the cracking sound his joints made as he pushed himself up off the sofa. “Fucking hell. You know the wine is bad when your body tries to stop you from moving to the kitchen. I’m sure we used to drink decent wine once.”
“Only when we had boring stuff like spare cash. Stop moaning and get on with it.”
I wish I could see you
It’ll happen one day
Got to go. Talk later x
When Richard returned with full glasses and the bottle of red the TV was on. “Anything worth a look?” he asked.
“We’ve got a couple of series recorded. There’s a new Grand Designs just started. We can watch a movie if you want?” Sam rattled this list off without her eyes ever leaving her phone. “What do you feel like?”
Richard took a large swig. “Good job I brought the bottle with all this excitement. Probably not worth starting a movie if he’s going to wake up every half an hour. Maybe something short before we have food. What are we having by the way?”
“There’s some soup in the fridge. I’ve got some leftover pizza dough as well so we can make some calzones to go with it.”
“Ahh. Cheap wine and leftovers. Is there any TV show that can compete with such wonders? Maybe there’s a re-run of the X-Files on some obscure channel somewhere…”
“We don’t have to have the soup. I can make something if you like?” Sam put her phone down. “Is there anything you fancy?”
“Haha. Good luck with that. Seriously, I can make something else if you…”
Richard grunted through a large mouthful of wine. Shook his head. “No. I’m just winding you up. Soup and calzone is perfect. I wouldn’t want to sully anything else with this wine.”
“It’s better now my face is going numb. I’m no expert but these Bolivian fuckers should stick to their traditional exports like coca and fucking marching powder. Bollocks. Is that him again?”
Sam got up from the sofa. “It’s fine. Let me go.”
“Watch out for Dame Washalot’s water. If you ask me they should evict her from the tree. Fucking selfish bitch.”
So are you up to anything much?
No. Watching some shit TV show about cows.
Still deciding on dinner. Restless boy.
Tx. Need them.
Chat later x
“How’s he doing?”
“He’s fine. Was asleep the whole time. Probably just having a bad dream. So did you decide?”
Sam rolled her eyes. “Dinner? TV?”
“I thought we agreed on soup and calzone?”
“Fine. If it’s what you want. Shall I get on with it or do you want to watch something first?”
“How about we just stick some music on. Sit and talk for a while?”
“We are talking.”
“You know what I mean Sam. A proper talk. About grown up things.” Richard finished his glass and poured another. “If you can tear yourself away from your phone for five minutes of course.”
“You can be such an arsehole sometimes.” Sam put her phone in her pocket and sipped her wine. “Fine. There. The demon phone is gone. Let’s talk like grown ups.”
Richard shook his head. “There’s no point if you’re going to be like that about it.”
“Like what? I’m saying let’s talk. There’s clearly a whole bunch of things you want to talk about so let’s get on with it.”
“Why is it so weird to you that I want to talk to my wife?”
Sam sipped more wine. “It’s not weird Rich, it’s just that once you start we never stop. It’s the same shit over and over again. Wallowing about the state of everything. Comparing our lives to the past. There’s never anything positive.”
“That’s really unfair. Sure, I get wound up about things but it’s only because I give a shit.”
“And I don’t, is that it?”
“No. For fuck’s sake I’m not saying that at all. I just…oh look forget it. Let’s just have dinner, watch TV and get it over with. I can go and try to write for a while get hammered and depressed and you can go to bed with your phone. It’s the perfect Saturday night.”
“Why are you such a prick about my phone?” Sam can feel tears forming and it pushes her anger up another level. “It’s not like you ever stop using yours so why is it such a problem for you when I use mine? Do you want to check it, is that it?” Sam pulls the phone from her pocket and hurls it across to the opposite sofa. “There. Be my fucking guest.”
Richard picks up the phone and lobs it back. “I don’t want to check your phone. And can you please stop yelling or he’s going to be awake again.”
Sam looks up at the ceiling trying to keep the tears from spilling on to her cheeks. “I don’t know what to say Rich. If I keep calm I have no passion. If I shout then I’m waking our child. What do you want from me?”
Richard stares at his wine and sighs. “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I just want things to be like they were.”
Sam picks up her wine glass and twirls the stem. “Rich. Look at me.” She finishes her drink and sets the glass down again. “There’s something you need to know and understand.”
“Other than you need more wine?”
“Other than that.”
Richard looks at his wife’s eyes. “Ok.”
“Things are never going to be the same. Never. They are different and they will always be different. We are not the same people. Shit, we’re not even the same amount of people. We are not the same age. We are not in the same country. We do not earn the same amount of money. We have totally different priorities and goals, most of which revolve around the small person at the end of the corridor who is probably going to ruin our Saturday night.”
“I don’t think he ruins anything Sam. That’s not what I…”
“Just hear me out. I know you don’t blame him for anything but he does ruin Saturday nights. You need to remember that he also makes them amazing and challenging and fun. You’re a great dad and he loves you to bits. You just need to stop being so obsessed about a life that is long gone and was never as exciting as your memory tells you it was. Saturday nights meant booze, good food, music, TV and playstation most weeks. It’s not like any of that has gone away. In fact the only things we’ve lost are some friends and a spiraling weed bill. There is no time like the past. There’s only now and what we make of it. If you spend the rest of your life judging every hour on what it isn’t rather than on what it is you’re going to be very miserable. And your misery bleeds over into everyone around you however hard you try to stop it.”
Richard poured more wine into his glass. “A misery bleeder. You married well. I’m sorry, sometimes I just…” Unable to find the right words Richard smiled without much humour. “I’ll try harder to focus on the good stuff. I promise.”
“I did marry well Rich. Almost as well as you did. Now why don’t you go and do some writing for a bit or go crazy and fire up the playstation?”
“Shall I sort your wine out first?”
“It’s ok. I’m going to the kitchen to sort out our peasant supper so I’m sure I can find the fridge.”
“Fine. I’ll go and write about the redundant nature of a modern husband.” Richard got to his feet to the audible soundtrack of protesting joints. “I’ll add in a reader’s poll at the end to determine at what age humans start to let out involuntary sighs every time they stand up.” He kissed his wife’s hair and held her to his chest. “Love you.”
I’m so glad I’ve got you to talk to
I’m always here for you.
Day or night.
He just doesn’t understand me like you do
You’re a complicated woman with complicated needs.
Have I mentioned that I love you?
And I love you too Sis.
Wish you were closer
Author’s note: This was my contribution to a project called 7 Drunken Nights. Seven days, seven writers (Dave Louden, Tobias Haglund, Hugh Cron, Jim Crawford, Steve Wright, Catfish McDaris and some Welsh bloke), seven stories.
I landed up with Saturday as you may have guessed.
The plan is to turn it into a chapbook and to put any proceeds from sales towards items on the Amazon wishlist for the Assisi Animal Sanctuary – but if you enjoyed this and want to check them out and make a contribution right away then don’t let me stop you…